Cairnwell Pass (A93)

[Heading north on the A93 at Spittal of Glenshee]

Running above wooded gorges and through huge glacial valleys, the A93 climbs ever more steeply until the magic 670 metres above sea level is reached in passing the county border from Perth and Kinross into Aberdeenshire. The Cairnwell Pass is the country's highest road, one of its most scenic, and one of the most enjoyable to drive; Top Gear made the trip here to road test the Jaguar F-TYPE in 2013, for example. The steepest climbs and descents are either side of Glenshee Ski Centre (the notorious Devil's Elbow hairpins fortunately now bypassed), but the magnificent Cairngorm scenery extends all the way from Blairgowrie in the south to Braemar in the north. It's also the bane of many a Scottish skier's life; in winter the road can be a different beast altogether, with the long southern approach in particular vulnerable to drifting snow.

[A snowy approach to the ski centre from the north in winter (January 2013)]

Name: Cairnwell Pass (A93) ★★☆
Location (summit): A93 between Spittal of Glenshee and Braemar, G.R.: NO 142775 ///fast.prelude.estimates
Start (south): Spittal of Glenshee turnoff, G.R.: NO 111702 ///mopped.swerving.elevates
Finish (north): Braemar, G.R.: NO 152915 ///labels.rivers.grasp

Distance: 24 km / 15 miles
Height gain: 330 metres
Type of road: Surfaced A-road, suitable for all vehicles
Open: Almost always: snow closes the pass a few times each winter, mainly overnight
Cost: Free

[Southern approach to the pass, seen from Ben Gulabin (November 2017)]

[Glenisla junction at Lair (northbound) (November 2017)]

[Slochnacraig (northbound) (November 2017)]

[Spittal of Glenshee (northbound) (November 2017)]

[Gleann Beag (northbound)]

[Gleann Beag (northbound) (November 2017)]

[Gleann Beag (northbound) (November 2017)]

[Gleann Beag (northbound) (November 2017)]

[Gleann Beag (northbound)]

[Gleann Beag (northbound)]

[Final ascent (northbound) (November 2017)]

[Summit of the pass at Glenshee Ski Centre (northbound)]

[Descent on the north side (northbound)]

[By the Clunie Water (northbound)]

[Clunie Water (northbound)]

[Beginning the descent on the south side (southbound) (November 2017)]

[Near the old Devil's Elbow hairpins (southbound) (November 2017)]

[Gleann Beag (southbound) (November 2017)]

[Gleann Beag (southbound) (November 2017)]

[Gleann Beag (southbound) (November 2017)]

[Spittal of Glenshee - not as big as the sign suggests (southbound) (November 2017)]

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