You could make a very good argument that the Old Military Road near Glenshee in Scotland is the best stretch of driving road in the UK, and at over 80 miles long, it’s certainly the most sustained. We made the trip in early 2013 with an Aston Martin V12 Zagato. To get there you need to head towards Perth and then pick up the A93 towards Blairgowrie, where the road starts to get interesting. At first it’s a lovely relaxed cruise on a lightly trafficked, fast-flowing A-road, but as you reach the Bridge of Cally the scenery starts to rise up around you and, depending on the time of year, snow will begin to appear. In fact, winter tyres might be wise if you’re visiting in the colder months.
The next section is a real rollercoaster of a road, with lots of yumps to catch out the unwary as you head to Glenshee ski station. Once there, you’re faced with the most spectacular stretch, which follows the path of the river down through a long valley towards Braemar. Fill up with fuel here if you’re running low, because you’re back out into the wilderness thereafter as you head for Balmoral. Here you can either take the narrow B976 up over the moor, which is lovely in good weather, or continue a little further towards Ballater and then turn left onto the A93. Both options take you to the same place.
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After these narrower sections, the road reverts to comfortable two-lane fare and you keep following the A939 and signs to Grantown-on-Spey. There are some steep hairpins to be enjoyed up towards the second ski station at Lecht, followed by a wonderful plunge down the other side. Just when you think it must be all over as you crawl through the predominantly grey town of Tomintoul, there is a final stretch of (slightly) less scenic but wonderfully engaging driving that spits you out in Grantown-on-Spey.
Start point: 56.59957, -3.33915 (Balmoral Road, Blairgowrie)The route: A93 and A939 via BallaterDistance: 83 milesTime: 2 hours 15 minutesGreat for: a Ferrari F12 (as long as it’s dry)
Where to stay
The Angus in Blairgowrie does a good plate of food and reasonable rooms. If you’re on a budget, then try The Royal, also in Blairgowrie. Meanwhile, if you fancy driving the route in a Caterham, give Boyd at Highland Caterham Hire a call on 01343 842657 or visit www.highlandcaterhamhire.co.uk
Watch out for
There is wildlife aplenty up here to watch out for (deer, snow rabbits, grouse). There are also a few distilleries, so if you like whisky, allow time and budget to visit them. Royal Lochnagar is just off the route at Balmoral, while you’ll see signs to the Glenlivet and Glenfiddich distilleries around Tomintoul. If you want to visit the Balmoral estate, it’s open to the public between late March and the end of July.
Michelin tyre recommendations
For summer driving, Michelin recommends Pilot Super Sport tyres. Born from endurance racing, the PSS tyres incorporate Dual-Compound technology with an outer tread for excellent cornering and an inner compound for wet grip. The Variable Contact Patch 2.0 ensures the maximum area of rubber remains in contact with the road for consistent handling on Scotland’s challenging roads. In winter, when average temperatures drop below 7 degrees C, Michelin recommends swapping to PA4 Alpin winter tyres. The Helio Compound using sunflower oil ensures the tyres remain supple, providing excellent levels of grip at low temperatures.
For more information, size and fitments visit www.michelin.co.uk