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Driving from Stonehaven to Nairn

We're taking our first trip to Scotland in September and I'm working on figuring out our driving routes. We plan to drive from Stonehaven to Nairn one day and it looks like we have two main options- the A96 or A93/939 through the northern part of the Cairngorms. We aren't necessarily looking for the shortest route, but the best combination of a scenic drive, safe roads, and interesting stopping points.

Does anyone have experience taking either of these routes? Thanks!

Posted by
906 posts

Hi, awall92,

Definitely the A93/A939. Not only will you be traveling along Royal Deeside, and through the charming towns of Banchory, Ballater, and Aboyne, but if you have the time, you could visit Crathes Castle, and backtracking a bit, Castle Drum. You can take the Slug Road (A957) from Stonehaven to Crathes, thereby bypassing Aberdeen traffic.

Once you get on the A939, you'll pass through Corgarff (castle worth looking at from the outside), Tomintoul, and Grantown on Spey. It's a lovely drive, particularly the section from Corgarff to Grantown. That's the Old Lecht Road, which takes you past the Lecht ski area, which lost a lot of its popularity once Aviemore and Cairngorm became more widely known (and easier to get to!).

the A96 isn't bad - it passes through or by Inverurie, Huntly, Keith, Elgin, and Forres on the way to Nairn. All of those are attractive towns, but for a scenic drive, you can't go wrong with the A93/A939. However, if you do decide on the A96, Bennachie (near Inverurie) is a rite of passage for Aberdonians. It's about two hours up and back. Also Huntly Castle and/or Elgin Cathedral are well worth a visit, as is the small Falconer Museum in Forres.

Best wishes for a great drive!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
2566 posts

Just a positive comment about Nairn -- I hope you'll enjoy the town as much as we did. It's a fairly quiet place but we had a lovely evening watching the sun setting over the beach and marina. Dinner at The Classroom restaurant was excellent. Our B&B (Tali Ayer) was so nice, if we'd realized how great it would be we would have booked a longer stay.