Road Trip around Scotland – Part 3: Into The Cairngorms

Road Trip around Scotland: The final leg

Welcome to the final part of my Road Trip around Scotland!  Erica had arrived safely back at home and I now had a week to explore further before I needed to return too. Find out where I went in the beautiful Cairngorms.

If you haven’t already done so, please make sure you read  Road Trip around Scotland – Part 1. and Road Trip around Scotland – Part 2. Considering building a motorhome of your own? Well you are in the right place – find out how in my motorhome section.

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 21

I had a good nights sleep in Ardersier, however I woke to a rainy day.  Consequently I decided to spend the day working and so stayed put in the van.  Towards the evening, I drove along the coast to Nairn primarily to charge the batteries!  However, by the time I arrived it was dark and so saved exploring for the morning.

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 22

Nairn

Did you know that Nairn is know as Brighton of the North? I didn’t!  As I completed my morning walk, it was however clear to see why.  The first thing I noticed was the beautiful long beach accessed by grand hotels.  Even in February, it was a pleasant walk as I made my way along the beach towards the impressive Golf Club.

My route took my back in land through the towns high street with several impressive churches. Finally I made my way along the river to the pretty harbour and to the van.

Nairn Beach, Nairn, Highlands
The view along Nairn Beach
View across Nairn, Scotland
View across Nairn
Nairn Harbour, Scotland
Nairn has a lovely Harbour!

The Cairngorms!

Once back at the van, I made my way along the A939 towards Grantown-on-Spey.  The drive was beautiful and so spent the afternoon stopping regularly and going on a number of short walks.  Eventually I arrived in Grantown-on-Spey at dusk and so parked up for the night. Finally I had arrived in the Cairngorms!

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 23

I woke to snow in Grantown-on-Spey!  Keen to explore, I began my day walking around the town and then through a beautiful woodland to the River Spey.  Grantown-on-Spey has a number of local shops, churches and some grand looking hotels.  As a result, it is a popular base for people looking to explore the Cairngorms as well as being a thoroughly nice town to wander around.

Grantown-on-Spey church. Cairngorms. Scotland
The snow covered Chruch
Hotel at Grantown-on-Spey, Cairngorms, Scotland
A grand hotel in Grantown-on-Spey.

Road to Tomintoul

After a couple of hours wondering around, I decided to venture deeper into the Caringorms.  I had read of Tomintoul being the (disputed) highest village in the Scottish Highlands and so figured this would be a nice place to aim for.  My route took me along the A939 Old Military Road which offered some pretty spectacular scenery!

A939 towards Tomintoul, Cairngorms, Scotland.
Driving towards Tomintoul along the A939 Old Military Road

 

Luckily, there were lots of places to stop along the road including a large lay by just before the junction with the B9136.  From here I was able to walk down to the River Avon and up into the large Glenlivet Estate. There were many miles of routes available from here, including into Tomintoul, however I only covered a few miles of these!

Bridge Across the River Avon, near Tomintoul. Cairngorms.
Bridge across the River Avon
B9136 Roadside, Cairngorms, Scotland
This made for a nice photo!

Tomintoul

Eventually, I made it into Tomintoul where I found a small  car park on the edge of the village.  From here I completed another loop into the Glenlivet Estate including visiting a very peaceful bird hide.  Interestingly, the area is also home to the Cairngorms Dark Sky Park making in very popular with stargazers.  

My route took me back into the village and into the central square where someone had been busy constructing a snowman!

Tomintoul Snowman
Somebody had been busy!

I really enjoyed wandering around Tomintoul, especially in the snow!  Luckily, I spotted a sign for a campsite with electricity and water behind the bowling club.  Since it was getting late in the day and the snow was getting much heavier, I decided to park up for the night and make use of the electricity to fully charge the batteries overnight!

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 24

More snow fell overnight. Luckily, the roads including the entrance to the campsite had been gritted and so I was able to get the van out late morning. After a quick look on the map, I decided to aim for the town of Ballater, some 25 miles away. 

Lecht-2090

My first stop en-route was the ski resort or Lecht-2090. Being a keen skier, I was extremely disappointing that I hadn’t packed my skis into the van! And to make it worse, there was lots of fresh snow. I remained here for sometime watching the skiers and investigating the area including the visitor centre where I bought coffee.

Lecht 2090, Cairngorms, Scotland
Lecht 2090 Ski Resort

 

After my coffee, I headed back to the van and continued along the rather spectacular A939, Lecht Road towards Ballater.  About 4 miles away from the ski resort I stopped at a viewpoint with some very impressive views and including the sculpture shown in the photograph.  Sadly the parking area wasn’t gritted and so it was fun getting back onto the road!

A939 Lecht Road Viewpoint
Viewpoint on the A939
A939, Lecht Road, Cairngorms. Scotland
I also managed to get the drone flying!

Corgarff

I continued along the A939 which started to descend quite quickly. As a result, the snow cover began to reduce considerably. Eventually I arrived in the small village of Corgarff where I found a lovely secluded car park.  Consequently, I decided this was the perfect spot to cook lunch which I then ate sitting on a little bench near the car park.  After lunch, I walked through the near by fields and flew the drone again.

Corgarff, Cairngorms. Scotland
Corgarff from above!

Ballater

Eventually, I left Corgarff and drove the last part of my journey to Ballater.  Once again, the scenery was spectacular with lots of opportunities to park up and walk in some moorland!

Old Military Road, A939. Cairngorms. Scotland
Sign on The Moor

 

On arriving in Ballater, I headed to the towns’s car park where I parked up.  From here, I walked to the rather impressive tourist information centre housed in an old train station where I picked up a few leaflets.  The town of Ballater was rather nice, with a large church in centre. Consequently, I spent some time exploring its many streets before heading back to the van for dinner and an early night!

Buildings in Ballater, Cairngorms, Scotland
There were lots of impressive buildings in the town centre

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 25

I woke to several inches of snow!  This was beautiful, however I was aware that I was parked at the bottom of a relatively steep slope!  Whilst the van is generally great, it has limited traction in snow due to being front wheel drive.  After a quick check of the forecast, it was clear that there was going to be much more snow during the course of the day.  Consequently, I decided to move the van nearer to the town centre where I would remain for the day.  As expected, it took a lot of effort to get out from my parking spot, however with a little perseverance, I succeeded!

Snow in Ballater
I woke to lots of snow!

 

Once safely parked up in the town centre, I went on a long walk including along a disused railway line through the snow.  There is definitely something magical about the snow as the following photographs show.

Ballater Snowy Streets
Heavy snow!
Central car park, Ballater. Cairngorms. Scotland
The town was very quiet!
Ballater Church, Cairngorms. Road Trip around Scotland
Snow falling on the church.

 

As forecast, the snow continued falling late into the afternoon. By the time I returned to the van, it was surrounded by snow after snowploughs had been moving it to the side of the road!  Clearly I was going nowhere and so decided to spend some time writing up my blog before dinner.

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 26

The snow continued through the night, and by morning it was almost a foot deep!  Importantly however it had now stopped and the roads had been cleared.  I therefore took the decision to dig the van out of the snow and to continue on my journey. 

The scenery was once again spectacular as I drove along the A93 Old Military Road towards Braemar.  I spent the day driving short distances and simply enjoying stunning views along the way.

Snowy Bridge along A93 Cairngorms. Scotland
My first stop of the day!
View along River Dee, A93. Cairngorms. Roadtrip around Scotland
View along the River Dee alongside A93

 

I arrived in the lovely town of Braemer just before lunchtime, however sadly the local roads and car parks were extremely icy.  Consequently, I was unable to stop and so carried along the A93 until i reached the Glenshee Ski Centre. After wandering around the ski resort, I continued along the A93 for another few miles until I reached a lay by.

My original plan was to stop for a short while before continuing along the A93.  However I was taken aback by the beauty of my location and decided to spend the afternoon using the camera and drone.  As I am sure you will agree, the view from above is rather stunning!

View North along A93, Cairngorms. Road Trip around Scotland

A93 South. Cairngorms. Road Trip around Scotland

A93 view from above! Cairngorms. Road Trip around Scotland

As darkness fell, I was tired and so decided to rest overnight in the lay by as I felt safe, despite being very remote.  Of course, I used the opportunity to get some night shots too!

Cairngorms Night Sky. Road trip around Scotland.

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 27

I woke to a beautiful and peaceful morning.  It was however extremely cold outside with a temperature of -6 degrees.  Luckily, the heater is quite effective and I was lovely and warm overnight in the van.  My first task was to clear the considerable amount of snow that had fallen on my solar panels the night before.  So much so, that even in the strong sunlight, I was recording 0 volts!

Clearning Snow from solar panels. Cairngorms, Scotland
Clearing the snow from the roof

Kirkcaldy

Sadly, it was finally time to leave the Cairngorms. After a final few photographs,  I made my way along the A93 Military Road and finally out of the Cairngorms National Park.  My destination was Kirkcaldy, a small town on the coast just north of Edinburgh.  Unusually, I drove all the way without stopping!

When I arrived, I spent the afternoon completing a long coastal walk in both directions from Kirkcaldy harbour which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Kirkcaldy. Road Trip around Scotland
View from the Harbour Car Park
Kirkcaldy Harbour
View across Kirkcaldy Harbour

 

After a few hours exploring, I made my way to the small town of Burntisland.  This was a lovely coastal town with lots of shops and leisure facilities.  Here I cooked dinner and spent the night ready for the drive back the following day.

Burntisland. Road Trip around Scotland
View across Burntisland

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 28

Well, what an adventure I have had.  Over the past four weeks I had experienced torrential rain, gale force winds, sunshine, ice and snow.  However it was now time to make my way back south in time to meet my brother in London over the coming weekend.

My route took me across the Kingsferry Bridge and cross country before joining the A66 and finally the A1M towards London.  Luckily, I was however able to make a detour to visit a stunning secluded lake before my final exit from Scotland….

Further Reading.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading about my Road Trip around Scotland. If so, why not read about my Road Trip around North Wales as well as other adventures in the van and boat.

If you are planning your own Road Trip, read this handy guide!

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