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Driving in North Wales as compared to Scottish Highlands (for an American)

My husband and I are planning a trip to North Wales for fall 2020. We were in the Scottish Highlands a few years ago & rented a car, thinking we would be able to see much more of the remote areas. While we did get to see things we couldn't have if we'd relied on public transportation, the roads (narrow & not always well maintained) were frankly scary. How do roads in N. Wales compare away from the cities?

Posted by
1213 posts

We drove all over Wales and over Horse Shoe Pass in Snowdonia and the only traffic problem was Sheep in the road. I would say that most of Wales is not as remote as the far north of Scotland and most of the public access roads are paved. We visited quite a few Castles and drove right up to them. Be sure to look at admission Passes available to save.

Posted by
3551 posts

We drove everywhere without any problems. Of course a small car is a must as the roads are narrow and twisty. I would not be concerned. Enjoy the welsh countryside is beautiful.

Posted by
5022 posts

We have been to North and South Wales. Loved both parts of the country within a country.

South Wales is great, once I went there, I understood why there is a province in Australia named after South Wales.

We loved Tenby and St. David's as well as several castles that we visited. In North Wales, we enjoyed Conway and Snowdonia.

Driving on the left is not so bad as long as you are careful and have a passenger reminding you (especially when turning) to "stay on the left."

Posted by
4 posts

I am actually quite comfortable driving on the left. My main concern is road conditions.

Posted by
279 posts

My wife and I have driven in both The Highlands and North Wales. Scotland was much easier. Even if a road was narrow, the was usually some sort of shoulder. There was relatively little traffic. My wife was fine taking off and exploring on her own while I fished.

In North Wales many of the roads were narrow without a shoulder, rather a brick wall lurking not very deep in the vegetation. There was a lot more traffic than in the highlands. Lots of big trucks and buses. We found that really took both of us to drive in Wales.

Posted by
3484 posts

The road conditions were fine. Some of the very rural roads getting to the off the beaten path places are very, very narrow. I refer to them as one lane, two lane roads, since there’s only room for one car, but it’s a two way road. We drove on some, mostly in the south going between castles or road detours, getting to Pentre Ifan burial chamber, and also on Anglesey.

Posted by
646 posts

We only had three days driving in North Wales, but I concur, the rural roads can be very narrow with a slate wall on one side, yet the speed limit will be 60 mph. We found this stressful and drove closer to 40 mph which necessitated pulling over to let more fearless/competent drivers by. The narrowness of the roads was much harder to master than driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Dual carriage ways and traffic circles were a piece of cake.

Posted by
36 posts

HI there - I drove solo for a week in Wales last year, coming from the US and never having driven internationally before. Most of the trip was typical driving conditions - I agree w/other posters that at times the road is narrow and the speed limit a bit higher than I would have anticipated. There was the rare occasion I encountered a single lane road - and a handful of times I ended up on single lane dirt roads framed by 6-8 ft hedge rows not knowing if a car or tractor would be coming in the other direction. Other than some occasional dirt roads - the conditions themselves were fine, just a bit stressful on the rare occasion :) What proved helpful was googling the directions between locations, and if it wasn't an A-road, using google street view to scope out the conditions. A few places weren't available to view but most were.

Posted by
54 posts

Of course a small car is a must as the roads are narrow and twisty.

To be honest on our roads the size of the car is irrelevant. Knowing what to do with it, if I may, is the important thing.