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Streets ahead: Our guide to the most notable Scottish roads

(Chris Austin / DC Thomson)
(Chris Austin / DC Thomson)

Radar technology, driverless cars and even wi-fi will be installed on the main routes that keep us all connected.

It’s a far cry from the days when a single-lane road connected Scotland’s major cities and it took more than four hours to drive between Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Our roads may be changing but they’re still incredibly varied.

The Sunday Post looks at some of Scotland’s most notable routes.

Steepest ascent – Bealach na Bà

The steepest road climb in the UK is the Bealach na Bà, which means Pass of the Cattle.

It rises to 2,100ft above sea level at Applecross in Wester Ross in only six miles and is filled with twisting hairpin bends.

It looks more like an Alpine mountain pass than a Scottish country road – so don’t try to drive this road in your old Reliant Robin.

Weirdest road – Electric Brae

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It was thought there were mysterious forces at work on the A719, between Dunure and Croy Bay in Ayrshire.

Leave a vehicle with the brakes off on the so-called Electric Brae and something appears to draw it UP the hill.

The theory was that an unexplained electric or magnetic field was powering vehicles – but in reality it’s an optical
illusion of the landscape making the road look uphill when it’s actually downhill.

Highest Road – The Cairnwell Pass

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The highest paved main road anywhere in the UK is between Glen Shee in Perthshire and Braemar in Aberdeenshire.

Until the late 1960s, the route to the summit included two notorious hairpin bends with a 33% gradient, known as the Devil’s Elbow.

The AA used to maintain a lay-by for vehicles whose engines had overheated trying to traverse the treacherous mountain pass, which reaches a height of 2,199 feet.

Shortest road – Ebenezer Place

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Tiny Ebenezer Place in Wick, Caithness, lives up to its name — it’s a miserly 6ft 9in long.

In 2006 the minuscule road was officially recognised as the shortest street in the world by Guinness World Records.

It has only one address, the front door of No.1 Bistro, which is attached to a hotel sitting between the town’s Union Street and River Street.

Best drive – NC500

Ben Hope on the NC500 road around Scotland
Ben Hope on the NC500 road around Scotland

IT was only opened a year ago but already the North Coast 500 has been named as one of the top five coastal routes in the entire world.

The road takes at least a long weekend to drive and was designed to lure tourists to the Highlands.

It’s Scotland’s answer to the famous Route 66 in America.

Over its 500-mile length it takes in Dunrobin Castle, the beautiful Dornoch Beach and the stunning mountain range of Ben Hope.


View the location of the roads on our map below (NC500 marked in Blue):


 

Longest cul de Sac – road to Kinloch Hourn

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Accidentally driving up a dead end and having to do a U-turn isn’t unusual. Having to go back 22 miles is.

The single track road from Loch Garry to Kinloch Hourn is 22 miles long, making it the longest dead end road in the UK.

There’s not much for tourists to do at Kinloch Hourn, but the stunning scenery through Glen Garry make it a favourite with cyclists.

Most haunted – Dumfries A75

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The Kinmount Straight, on a 15-mile stretch of the A75 between Dumfries and Gretna, is reputedly the most haunted stretch of highway in the country.

Terrified motorists have been confronted by screeching crones dressed in Victorian clothes who disappear into thin air, as well as menageries of ghostly animals – including a terrifying phantom chicken. Best to visit this road at Hallowe’en – although try to avoid breaking down…

Most dangerous – not the A9…

7macsp_A809road
(Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)

The A9 is often named as Scotland’s most dangerous highway but the dubious honour in fact goes to the A809 through Milngavie and Bearsden.

There were 24 fatal or serious accidents inside four years on the road, which is
frequented by tourists travelling to Loch Lomond as well as commuters to and from Glasgow.

In 2012 the route was named the third most dangerous road in the UK following a 41% rise in accidents.

Most confusing — M8 through Glasgow

(Danny Lawson / PA Wire)
(Danny Lawson / PA Wire)

Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction gets a bad reputation – but the M8 motorway through Glasgow isn’t far behind.

Its junctions were voted the second scariest in all of Great Britain.

This comes as no surprise to those visiting Glasgow who have had to cross the 10-lane Kingston Bridge with no prior warning.

The M8 through Glasgow is especially unusual as drivers often have to join it directly into the fast lane.

Most beautiful – A817 from Loch Lomond

(Chris Austin / DC Thomson)
(Chris Austin / DC Thomson)

The A817, snaking between lochs and mountains as it runs from Loch Lomond to Garelochhead, has been voted the most beautiful in the UK, according to the Civil Service Motoring Association.

The relaxing route takes drivers high over Glen Fruin and regularly rises and falls hundreds of feet – leading to it being given the name The Rollercoaster.

And it’s only 10 miles long – talk about short and sweet.


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