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Roads

I am renting a car and driving around for almost 10 days. Aberdeen to Inverness to Skye to Glencoe to Edinburgh.
Do I need to worry about anything as far as the roads?

I was told to expect curvy, narrow roads which does not sound too bad. What about the rain though, how does that affect driving? Most roads I will take are A roads. I should be fine, no?

Posted by
552 posts

The places you are going are not small towns for the most part, except for Skye. You will encounter some small narrow roads on Skye where two cars may not be able to pass so one will have to make use of a pull out. This will make the going slower, but it allows for more time to enjoy the scenery. You will be fine!

Posted by
3206 posts

To clarify what Anita said, on Skye it’s a one lane road with pull-offs so vehicles going the opposite direction can pass. It wasn’t a problem when I drove it. Closest one to the pull-off pulls over. Everywhere else the roads were fine. We were given a Plymouth voyager sized mini-van on that trip and had no issues.

Posted by
5559 posts

Full disclosure, I love driving in Scotland. The roads are beautiful, there is not that much traffic, and people are generally polite. I like the advice from Undiscovered Scotland. Here is some general good advice. And here is some good advice on single track roads.

Posted by
10 posts

Wait, what? Pull outs? On which side of the road are these pull outs?
That's it? That's all I have to worry about? Hahaha...I expected more.

I mean, it's already hard to get used to change gears with left hand and drive on other side but I thought there would be more obstacles 😃
I guess am worrying about nothing.

What about weather? And petro stations?

Posted by
940 posts

Hi, Neruda,

No one mentioned roundabouts. They're easy to negotiate. Slow down as you approach a roundabout, and yield to any cars already in the roundabout. If you're going straight out of the roundabout, keep to the left in the roundabout. If you're going to be turning right out of the roundabout, get in to the right lane of the roundabout (if there are two lanes), and keep an eye out for anyone encroaching on your left.

Some of the larger roundabouts have directional markings on the pavement, if there two lanes approaching the roundabout. The A90 roundabout approaching Dundee is one such roundabout. And as you're going to be in Aberdeen, you may encounter the notorious Haudagain Roundabout, which has been voted the worst roundabout in Britain. It's at the bottom of Anderson Drive, where the A90 and A96 meet. Make sure that you're in the correct lane well before you reach it.

On the single track roads with passing places, the "pull out" or passing places can be on either side of the road. It mainly depends on where the road builders could find a spot with no subsidence. Oddly enough, the highway code dictates that a car coming uphill has the right of way. Nothing beats the thrill of having to back uphill to the nearest passing place!

You won't have any trouble finding petrol stations. Petrol is sold by the litre, so what you may think is a low price isn't. Petrol is currently running about $8.00 per U.S. gallon, but most hire cars get really good m.p.g. Skye is the only place you'll be where filling stations are few and far between, so I'd recommend filling up at the filling station in Broadford, next to the Co-op supermarket. It's about the best price you'll pay on Skye, and it's the easiest in and out. On the mainland, the cheapest petrol is usually at the filling stations connected with supermarkets, i.e.: Tesco, Asda, Morrisons. They often have price wars.

As in the U.S., rain doesn't affect driving. The Scottish roads are well maintained, but common sense would tell you to drive slower, especially as you're approaching curves.

As they used to say in the ESSO commercials, "Happy Motoring!"

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
25727 posts

If you come from a country which has little rain you should know that rain will increase your stopping distances and if there is a bit more water on the road and you brake hard or steer hard you may aquaplane, sometimes off the road. If you are not used to driving in rain you should read up on it.

My niece when young had learned to drive in Texas and had never driven in rain. She was caught out by the stopping distance which she had made no allowance for.

She's a good driver now, several years later....

Posted by
3206 posts

On Skye, the pull-outs are on both sides of the road. Essentially, they are places where the road is actually 2 lanes wide. Nothing to worry about. There are petrol stations and finding one wasn’t an issue. If you’re headed to an area where there are fewer (like Skye), fill up beforehand. If you don’t want to shift, rent an automatic. They may be slightly more to rent, but not much. I still am uncomfortable attempting to shift on the left, so I always rent an automatic.

Posted by
10 posts

Renting an automatic in Scotland?? Blasphemy! plus it was an extra $300. Not worried about it unless I have to go back uphill ...hahahaha....

Thank you much for all your info, greatly appreciated!

Posted by
5559 posts

In regards to passing places you ALWAYS stay on your side of the road. So, if you are driving along and see a passing place that is on your right, but you reach it first. You stop on the left. The oncoming car passes you by using the room in the passing place on your right. The thing to remember is to never go over to the right! Stay in your lane/on your side even when you theoretically don't seem to have one. :)

Posted by
52 posts

My sister and I will be in Scotland in a couple of weeks...renting a car also and are concerned. I actually found you tube videos! Just google, similar to drive from inverness to glencoe. Awesome! Have a great vacation!!!

Posted by
1280 posts

On all roads keep to the left. If on single tracks (one lane only) as Pamela says keep on the left at the marked passing places even if the passing place is on the other side.

One thing to remember, the national speed limit applies, and on some people do drive up to it on them. Don't feel you have to.

Posted by
1766 posts

Most important issue seems no one mentioned is the drop off on the road....there are no shoulders...and the pavement just ends in some place into a fairly large ditch or hole. The rental company we used checked every single tire and wheel well when we returned the car, looking for damage from dropping into these spots.

You will be surprised by how deep the sides of the road can be...so be careful when you have to pull aside to allow another car to pass, try to stay on the pavement.

We drove from Inverness to Skye, to Oban to Stiring and Edinburgh...enjoyed every moment. Used a GPS to get us around and it worked great... had a printed map as back up, but really only used it to see what else was around us.

Posted by
122 posts

We recently returned from Scotland (May 18) and drove quite a bit while there - 901 miles in all (from outside Edinburgh, through St. Andrews, up to near Inverness and all around that area, over to Skye and down past Glencoe and that whole area, plus around Stirling.) For the most part, we were fine. (although I will never quite get used to roundabouts!)

A word of caution, though: be very careful of the many potholes, especially on single-track roads! Since these roads are one single lane, and there are potholes on both sides, it is very hard to avoid these altogether. We really noticed them on Skye and going down to Glen Etive. Although our rental car's electronic dashboard said the speed on these roads was 60 mph, we rarely got above 20-25, truly! And, as others have mentioned, when it rains these potholes fill with water, making them that much harder to see.

We got the $0 excess, and while we never had to use it, it provided peace of mind. You will see how easy it can be to scratch the left side of the car by getting too close to a bush on the side of the road, or rubbing your left side tires. We had requested a small automatic car (think Toyota Yaris) and ended up with a Peugeot 3008 SUV. While it was larger than we had expected, we adjusted quickly. (And my husband was drooling over the electronics. He said the car was smarter than him! It did have an awesome gps, too!)

Posted by
5559 posts

Don't call or think of them as pullouts. Rather, call then passing places which is the local name. Read through the link that I provided. Stay on the left ALWAYS. You will be fine. Stop stressing!

Here's why I like the local term. Passing place implies that you are stopping somewhere along the road so that someone can pass you by--however that may be. Pullout implies that you move off the road which is not necessarily the case. You need to just stay on the left. If you reach the spot in the road where there is room to pass (ergo a passing place) you stop on your side of the road so that the oncoming traffic can have room to pass you. If you think of them as pullouts, you will try to "pullout" into them which may not be correct if the pullout looks like it is on the right. Stay on left. You will be fine. :)