The Cairnwell Pass (Scottish Gaelic: Càrn a' Bhailg) is a mountain pass on the A93 road between Glen Shee, Perthshire, and Braemar, Aberdeenshire, in the Scottish Highlands. The border between the two counties crosses the summit of the pass. With a summit altitude of 670 m (2199 ft), the Cairnwell Pass is the highest main road in the United Kingdom, and at the summit is the Glenshee Ski Centre, Scotland's largest and oldest ski centre. Historically, the pass was a drover's route from the Lowlands to the Highlands. The road is often blocked by snow in the winter, with snow gates at Braemar, at the summit (south of the Ski Centre), and at the Spittal of Glenshee.
A mile south of the summit is the Devil's Elbow, a notorious double-hairpin bend. The often-quoted gradient of 33 percent (1 in 3) is a myth: in reality it is no more than 1 in 6 (17%). The double bend can be seen clearly on Taylor & Skinner's map of 1776, with the 1749 military road already bypassed. The modern road bypasses the hairpin bends, but the old road still exists and its route can be walked, or carefully cycled.
- Glenshee Ski Centre website
- Taylor and Skinner, "Survey and Maps of the Roads of North Britain or Scotland", 1776, Pl. 26
- A. Graham, "The Military Road from Braemar to the Spital of Glen Shee", Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Volume 97, 1963-4
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