CLOSURE of an 18th century road bridge is draining the life blood from Tomintoul, it has been claimed.
Aberdeenshire Council’s decision to begin eight weeks of maintenance at the Gairnshiel Bridge, on the A939, is cutting a vital tourist route to the Cairngorms National Park and Moray.
The span, which is situated about 16 miles from Tomintoul, is expected to stay closed until well after the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has ended, which encompasses the May bank holiday weekend.
It provides a link between the village and Ballater and Braemar.
Mike Drury, owner of the Whisky Castle, said Tomintoul was being "cut off at the neck like a turkey at Christmas".
"The diversion puts on an extra 30 to 40 miles on to the journey," he said.
"They even advertised it on the A9 at Inverness, literally killing the main route through the Cairngorms National Park from Easter, through the whisky festival and beyond."
Mr Drury added that Sundays were when people came up through the village on their motorbikes or cars on round-circuit trips from Aberdeen.
"The Sunday after the bridge closed Tomintoul was dead," he added
Mr Drury claimed there had been hardly any coaches stopping in the village, with some local businesses seeing a 50% fall in turnover.
"Folk are 100% behind the Gairnshiel Bridge being repaired but we know that this eight week period will not be the end of it," he continued.
"This is a recurring problem and every year or so it will come to haunt the people who visit and live in the Cairngorms National Park."