The Snow Roads Scenic Route is one of the most beautiful routes in the UK, starting at Blairgowrie in the lowlands of Perthshire and winding its way into the Cairngorms National Park, leading into the Cairngorm Mountains over the highest public road in Britain.
Image – Uath Lochans – © VisitScotland/Damian Shields
The roads have always been there, of course, but a new and innovative project aims to turn the route into a leading tourist destination, capitalising on the huge success of similar routes such as the North Coast 500.
The project, delivered by the Cairngorms Business Partnership in partnership with the Cairngorms National Park Authority, will develop tools to allow businesses to highlight the route and attract international visitors and travel trade. The project will research and collate the legends, stories and history of the area, and will develop inspiring Virtual and Augmented Reality content to showcase the route and the surrounding areas.
Jennifer Green, who has recently been appointed as Project Manager for the initiative, says: “The Snow Roads scenic route project is an exciting blend of art and technology. I’m looking forward to meeting and engaging with partners and communities along the route to help bring the project to life.”
Mark Tate, Chief Executive of Cairngorms Business Partnership, adds, “I am really lucky as I get to drive this stunning route through the Cairngorms National Park frequently for both work and pleasure. This is a beautiful route: the classic car driver, families on a Highland adventure or somebody who wants to take their time and cycle the route will be able to immerse themselves in the stunning landscapes and local culture.”
Where does the route take you?
The Snow Roads Scenic Route will take you north from Blairgowrie into the Cairngorm Mountains, through the Devil’s Elbow, into the mountains around the Glenshee Ski Centre and up into Royal Deeside taking in Braemar, Balmoral & Ballater before heading over the stunning mountain roads to Corgarff, up to the Lecht Ski Centre and on to Tomintoul and Grantown-on-Spey.
It’s a great alternative to the A9 if you want to head north. The roads are winding and should be driven with care and respect for fellow travellers, but that means you can go at a more relaxed pace, enjoy the drive and stop every so often to take in the fresh air and stunning scenery.
What can I see and do on the Snow Roads Scenic Route?
There are some fantastic stop-offs on the route. Heading north from Blairgowrie you’ll make the long climb up to Glenshee Ski Centre. Whether you’re travelling by car or bike, it’s worth it for the stunning view at the top. Further on you’ll come to the Queen’s summer residence, Balmoral Castle, and neighbouring villages Ballater and Braemar. Head over towards The Lecht Ski Centre via the infamous A939 Cock Bridge to Tomintoul road and you won’t be stuck for things to do with distilleries, golf courses, mountain biking, and more. Find out more about things to do at the Visit Cairngorms website.
Enjoy the viewing installations – Pete Crane, Head of Visitor Services with Cairngorms National Park Authority, says, “With funding from the Scottish Government Scenic Routes initiative and support from local landowners and communities we have already commissioned three installations, by competition-winning architects, along the route near the Devil’s Elbow in Glenshee, Corgarff and Tomintoul.”
© James Donlan
© James Donlan
Image – Corgarff installation – © CNPA
Of course, there are so many more places than that to pull over (safely) and enjoy the views – we’ll leave that up to you!
Image – © James Donlan
Image – Looking over Braemar – © VisitScotland/Jakub Iwanicki
Stop at the Photo Posts – Keen photographers will love bagging the designated Photo Posts to take pictures along the way. You can then share your photos from the posts with the Cairngorms Scenic Photo Posts project, a pioneering citizen science initiative to gather information about our landscapes as they change from day to day and year to year.
Image – Photo Post – © CNPA
Get back to nature – The Cairngorms Nature BIG Weekend, from 12th to 14th May 2017, is a celebration of the fantastic natural heritage of the Cairngorms National Park. With over 50 activities taking place across the Park there will be something for everyone, from families to the more seasoned nature lover. In Blair Atholl, TV naturalist Nick Baker is a special guest and you can join him on a ‘Minibeast Safari’ or hear him talk about his life as a wildlife presenter.
Not just for winter
Of course it doesn’t have to be snowy or cold to enjoy this spectacular route. In spring and summer, you can enjoy walking through the heather-rich moors, dipping your feet into rocky burns and rivers, or spotting wildlife such as the red deer, red squirrel, osprey, golden eagle – maybe even the elusive wildcat.
Image – Gairnshiel Bridge – © VisitScotland/Damian Shields
Image – The Watchers – © VisitScotland/Damian Shields
Explore from Perth
As Perth is the gateway to the Highlands of Scotland, where better to base yourself to start your exploration?
You can have a great short break in our lovely city before you discover (or rediscover) this fantastic route. There’s so much to enjoy, including shops, restaurants, outdoor spaces and accommodation. Here’s a selection of what the city has to offer.
Shops in Perth
Stock up on goodies to take with you on the Snow Roads Scenic Route:
Craigdon Mountain Sports, Mountain Leisure or Tiso – for outdoor clothing, shoes and equipment. You can even have a tasty lunch and a quick ascent of the climbing wall at Tiso, to put you in the mood!
Banks of Perth – If you’re going skiing further north on the route, make this your first stop for ski-hire or -purchase, warm clothing and equipment.
JRS Photo Hardware Ltd – If you want to record some stunning images, you can visit this independent photography shop to stock up on memory cards and batteries, or even to invest in a new camera or equipment.
Here’s a fine selection of restaurants where you can enjoy a meal, coffee or cocktails during your visit to Perth:
- 63 Tay Street
- Blend Coffee Lounge
- The Bothy
- Breizh Restaurant
- Brown and Blacks Perth
- Cafe Tabou
- Deans@Let’s Eat
- Everest Inn
- Grayson’s Wine Cafe
- Howie’s Bistro Perth
- Kisa’s Perth
- Monterey Jack’s
- North Port Restaurant
- Willows Coffee Shop and Restaurant
Outdoor and indoor spaces
To get you in the mood for the great outdoors, why not visit some of Perth’s fantastic parks, hills, green spaces and indoor venues?
Dewars Centre – for icy adventurous fun with the family
Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park – for stunning views and a gradient to get the heart pumping
Moncrieffe Hill – follow the sculpture trail and enjoy views over Perth, the Ochil Hills and Fife
North Inch Park – for biking, walking, running, rollerblading taking the kids to the playpark
Perth Leisure Pool – enjoy three pools and two water-slides, plus leisure facilities
South Inch Park – stroll along the pathways, take the kids to the playpark, meet the swans and enjoy ice creams at the pavilion
Accommodation in Perth
We’ve put together a list of comfortable and welcoming accommodation in the heart of Perth city where you can stay, before and/or after you explore the Snow Roads Scenic Route:
- Atholl Place Self-Catering Townhouse
- Achnacarry Guest House
- Alexander Residence
- Almond Villa Guesthouse
- Auld Manse Guest House
- Auld Manse Self Catering Apartment
- Balvaird Apartment at Scone Palace
- Best Western Queens Hotel
- The Fitzroy Bed & Breakfast
- Grampian Hotel
- Hazeldene Guest House
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel
- Mercure Hotel
- Murrayshall Hotel & Golf Courses
- No 9 The Guest House Perth
- The Parklands Hotel
- Premier Inn Hotel
- The Royal George Hotel
- Salutation Hotel
- Sunbank House Hotel
- The Townhouse
- Woodlea Guest House
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