All the pieces it’s good to know when planning a winter highway journey to Scotland
With the uncertainty surrounding international travel this year, you may be wondering how to replace your annual winter vacation with sunnier areas – but there are plenty of scenic destinations in the UK that are more than worth your time, and some are just one short drive away.
With lockdown restrictions expected to be lifted in the coming weeks, now is the perfect time to start planning a winter road trip. Our top choice for your travel destination? The Scottish Highlands.
Scotland is an often overlooked but breathtakingly beautiful part of Great Britain that is easy to get to by car. So you don’t have to worry about Covid tests, travel restrictions or other stressful issues that are currently hindering air travel to countries abroad.
And while it may not have the same hours of daily sunshine and five-star waiter service that your favorite Caribbean travel destination has, it offers many other things instead, from snow-capped mountains and cozy log cabins to epic lakes and forests, some of which are outdoor – Guys can’t get enough.
The average winter temperatures in Scotland are between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius – although the mercury can drop to minus 5 degrees on particularly cold days. So it pays to be prepared to get the most out of your road trip. The weather here is unpredictable, so it’s important to pack for all eventualities, from cool, clear, and sunny days to rain, snowfall, and ice.
You have the perfect opportunity to star gazing in the Scottish highlands
Tips for before you go
Check your vehicle for safety
Scotland can often be covered in snow, but this is mostly limited to the peaks in the highlands. Roads are usually paved and kept in safe conditions for drivers, meaning road closures and detours are minimal. Even so, it is advisable to expect the unexpected. If you make sure your vehicle is road safe and well prepared for adverse conditions, you can be sure that you will be able to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
It is important to ensure that your oil and water are topped up appropriately for the ride and that your tire tread is up to date before you set off. If you are going to travel a long distance, make sure you know where your nearest garage or tire center is so you know where to go if you have a problem like a slow flat tire on the way. You can also save the contact details for garages in Stirling or nearby areas such as Fife Autocentre to provide reliable tires.
Have your car serviced
Before you go on a trip with your family. You need to make sure that there are no breakdowns or vehicle mechanics issues during your trip so that your car can be serviced in a reliable garage near you. For many drivers, it may seem like a tedious job. However, it is better to keep your car ready to go by making sure that important parts of your vehicle are ready to go and won’t cause problems later. Vehicle components such as brakes, oil checks, and fuel and emissions are checked to ensure they are working efficiently and are being refilled.
It is always advisable to keep your auto services up to date
Keep your daily trips short
One of the biggest challenges on a winter road trip to Scotland is darkness. The shortest day of the year begins with sunrise at 8:45 a.m. and ends with sunset at 3:30 p.m. However, the average number of daily daylight hours at this time of year is 8.5.
Driving in the dark in the Scottish Highlands is best avoided. The roads can be narrow and winding, and the weather can be treacherous. It is best to get up early and take advantage of the daylight hours before settling into a luxurious hotel or cozy lodge and leaving again the next day.
Things to do
If you’ve ever imagined a romantic night of champagne under the stars, Scotland is the place to be – although you might want to swap the bubbles for a bottle of local whiskey for a traditional Scottish experience that is sure to turn out to be warms the cockles.
There are a number of dark discovery points in the highlands where you can take in the stunning night skies. Far from the light pollution of cities, “Orion” locations offer the opportunity to see at least the seven stars of the Orion constellation. If you go to the “Milky Way” locations instead, you can actually see the Milky Way with the naked eye!
Snowshoeing is hard work, but you can get to places that are otherwise inaccessible
Scotland is the perfect place to try snowshoeing – a type of hiking that involves walking in special footwear that shifts weight over a larger area. If it doesn’t sound so funny, then listen to us – because this sport dates back almost 6,000 years and gives you access to regions of the wild that you would otherwise not be able to reach.
Make sure there is a log fire and hot drink waiting for you at your accommodation because after a day near the peaks you will need them.
When it comes to snowy weather, pack your skis and treat yourself to some action on the slopes in one of the five Scottish ski areas. Granted, it’s not quite Val D’Isère or Chamonix, but Glencoe Mountain Resort and Nevis Range Mountain Resort are excellent alternatives, offering challenging terrain, dramatic scenery, and opulent accommodation with five-star service.
Visit a whiskey distillery or museum
When all that outdoor action gets a little too much and you’re ready for a day indoors in the warmth, visit one of the many whiskey distilleries or museums in the area. Having the chance to learn about the history of this quintessentially Scottish tip, see how it’s made and of course try the goods for yourself, is a great way to have a relaxing few hours and an even better one Opportunity to round off a memorable trip.