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10 roundabouts in just over 2 miles! Is Elgin Scotland’s roundabout capital?

The Moray town has drivers going round in circles roughly every 300 yards.

Cars on A96 roundabout in Elgin with Dr Gray's Hospital behind.
All of Elgin's A96 roundabouts can become congested. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

With 10 roundabouts within just over two miles on the A96 in Elgin, there can be few places in the country with more in such a short distance.

What is supposed to be the express road from Aberdeen to Inverness can often become a crawl through the town.

Throw in five, soon to be seven, sets of traffic lights and it can make the drive through Elgin even more of a slog.

But instead of being so negative about them, let’s celebrate all of Elgin’s A96 roundabouts that make the town arguably Scotland’s roundabout capital.

Rushing lights through A96 roundabout in Elgin.
The A96 roundabouts in Elgin are critical to the region’s economy. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Is Elgin Scotland’s roundabout capital?

There’s a lot of competition, but there is undoubtedly a case for Elgin being Scotland’s roundabout capital.

Dundee’s Kingsway, which is famed for its roundabouts, or circles, has just seven roundabouts spread over a massive six miles.

And Anderson Drive in Aberdeen has eight roundabouts over four miles, even including the recently bypassed Haudagain.

Inverness gives it a pretty good go with six in just a mile and a half on the A82 between the A9 Longman roundabout and Aldi at Telford Road.

The Haudagain roundabout in Aberdeen has been bypassed recently. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

East Kilbride can reportedly claim to have more than 160 spread throughout the entire town.

However, none of them can come close to the 10 roundabouts packed so closely together on the A96 in Elgin.

With one just every 300 yards, there can be few places in the country to find so many examples of roundabouts.

Driving Elgin’s roundabouts: Dr Gray’s to Elgin Town Hall

Let’s assume you’re on a long drive taking in every mile of the stunning A96 from Inverness to Aberdeen.

By the time you get into Elgin, the traffic lights of Nairn are becoming a distant memory and you’re beginning to think you’re making good progress.

A96 roundabout in Elgin with Ladyhill behind.
Internal Elgin traffic and Aberdeen to Inverness motorists rely on all the A96 roundabouts. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Any thought of getting to Aberdeen in an hour though is quickly gone as soon as you get to Dr Gray’s.

The first one you can get through easily, but then it’s the triple-header of the High Street and Tesco together followed by traffic lights.

During busy times the traffic can back up from the lights, past the supermarket, up the hill past the Wolf of Badenoch, round the roundabout and to the Ladyhill cottages.

From Anderson’s to Harry Gow

You’ve made it past Elgin Town Hall and done the slow drive up the hill past Cooper Park and Grant Lodge.

Now it’s time for the traffic lights and roundabouts to team up again.

As roundabouts go, the east end of the High Street is fairly unobjectionable. However, stationary traffic is a common sight.

Tailbacks on A96 in Elgin.
Long tailbacks are common through the A96 roundabouts in the east of Elgin at peak times. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Once you creep past the traffic lights, it’s time for the Pansport roundabout, which is potentially the worst of Elgin’s many A96 roundabouts.

It’s just too small for the volume of traffic it’s now dealing with. It’s east to west for A96 drivers and a main north to south thoroughfare for internal Elgin motorists.

Whatever way you arrive at it from, you’re pretty much guaranteed a queue.

After that it’s (usually) an easy drive past the Tyock and Harry Gow roundabouts before you get to KFC.

Now, this is where it gets controversial.

Changes at KFC roundabout

When the KFC roundabout was changed in September last year, it caused no end of confusion.

That was principally due to the signs initially not being changed to represent the new layout.

Depending on who you talk to, it’s either still confusing, leads to more tailbacks or has been made clearer.

Cars on A96 at KFC roundabout with arrows on the road, left in left lane, straight ahead in right lane.
New road markings at the KFC roundabout initially caused confusion for drivers. Image: David Mackay/DC Thomson

Picking which lane to be in is now the same regardless of what direction you’re driving on the A96.

However, needing to be in the right-hand lane to go straight ahead can still cause some minor course corrections mid-junction.

There are also due to be some new traffic lights added here and at the Harry Gow roundabouts.

KFC roundabout in Elgin
The KFC roundabout in Elgin is one of the busiest. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

While much needed this side of town, it will be interesting to see how it affects the flow of traffic.

Once you get to Elgin Business Park, you’re done with Elgin roundabouts on the A96. Just the ones at Lhanbryde, Mosstodloch and Fochabers to get round now.

More Elgin roundabouts to come with A96 dualling

Before the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness dualling was paused, a preferred option for Hardmuir, west of Brodie, to Fochabers was published.

Crucially, drivers bypassing Elgin will not have to endure any more roundabouts while on the proposed bypass route to the south of the town.

Removing the bottlenecks will undoubtedly smooth journeys for drivers heading between Inverness and Aberdeen.

Proposed roundabouts to the west of Elgin as part of A96 dualling. Image: Transport Scotland
Where roundabouts could be to the south of Elgin with A96 dualling. Image: Transport Scotland

However, for those in Elgin, there will be an incredible six new roundabouts built to service the new road.

Two will be at each of the three new junctions. One west of Elgin, near Miltonduff, south of Elgin in what is currently Birkenhill Wood and east of Elgin just south of Lhanbryde.

There’s also going to be another two new roundabouts at Mosstodloch, if the preferred option is ever progressed.

Read more about roundabouts on the A96