Lotus Elan

Driving in Scotland in December

PostPost by: dgym » Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:06 pm

Hi all,
Finally having a well earned holiday with my lady and we're visiting Europe in mid Dec. We will be in Scotland from around the 15th to the 22nd and were thinking of hiring a car do drive from Edinburgh to Inverness which looks like an amazing road.
It then dawned on me that winter in Scotland might not be the nicest place to drive (especially if I get my way and we hire a classic car)
So my question is, is this a stupid idea?
1967 S3 Coupe (left the factory in 66)
original rego PPC 8E
original owner B.M. Wetherill ..are you out there?
User avatar
Third Gear
Third Gear
Posts: 353
Joined: 05 Apr 2014
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPost by: elanfan1 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:17 pm

Think it just depends on the weather at the time. It is quite likely to be very cold, potentially snowy, certainly icy with temperatures as low as -12 or -15C. Certainly wouldn't want to be in a classic with possibly a poor heater and higher risk of a breakdown or even an off road excursion on roads where you might not be found for many hours.

That said it might be unseasonably warm I guess you won't know until just before you go. Might be an idea to plan something as a back up. South of Spain could still be nice and warm at that time.

Silence is Guildern; Duct Tape is Silver
User avatar
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
Posts: 2102
Joined: 13 Jan 2004
Location: Cardiff in Welsh Wales

PostPost by: MarkDa » Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:29 am

Edinburgh to Inverness is 3 or 4 hours steady driving on a dual carriageway basically.
As a very main road it's likely to be passable in almost any weather unless you set off in a snow storm.
It's certainly going to be colder than Melbourne at Xmas - or any other time of year!
But it could be dry in which case touring through the wonderful scenery would be very pleasant.
There's plenty to do/see in Edinburgh area if weather is inclement.
If very snowy go a bit further north for skiing!
As the Scots say there's no such thing as bad weather only poor clothes!
For those of us living closer, we probably wouldn't chose late December for a classic car holiday in Scotland.
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
Posts: 1149
Joined: 15 Apr 2017
Location: Stroud

PostPost by: draenog » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:31 am

I presume you're intending to take the A9 from Edinburgh to Inverness. This road has its own Wikipedia page:


I last did this route in October 2010 (I was travelling north east of Inverness to Macduff, a small town on the north coast). The route between Perth and Inverness is mostly single carriageway with sections of dual carriageway. This section has a reputation for accidents (killer A9 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-26389280), although I can't remember any issues along the entire route. Also, according to Wikipedia the 5 mile section from Kincraig to Dalraddy has been converted to dual carriageway since I was last on it.

As far as winter weather is concerned, as others has said, as a major road great attempts will be made to keep the route safe (snow ploughs to keep it open, and snow gates to close it in bad weather before you get stuck). Snow closing roads is quite common, when I lived in Aberdeen heavy snow would often block the A90 main road into the city (I'm going back 27 years). In Aberdeen, the temperature went down to -12C and that was on the coast.

The route through the Cairngorms is extremely picturesque so it would be a pity to decide not to do it. Just keep an eye on the weather forecasts...


P.S. I used to regularly travel to Scotland. My worst breakdown was in the borders region miles from anywhere. I ended up getting the car repaired in a truck depot, with me travelling to Dumfries to pick up the parts.
User avatar
Third Gear
Third Gear
Posts: 229
Joined: 26 Dec 2013
Location: Wales

PostPost by: Bombay Racing Green » Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:18 am

Hi Jim,

Having grown up in Aberdeen I can certainly agree about the cold temperatures. Going to junior school in shorts (yes, shorts) in the middle of winter during the ?80s was an experience best forgotten! However, the last four winters have been exceptionally mild. Not even enough snow to make a decent snowball. You might be lucky. Another problem you will encounter is the lack of daylight. The days are quite short at that time of the year. I don?t mean to come across all dour about Scotland. It still is a great place to visit and the people are great (I am biased!).

An alternate route/destination is a good idea. Glasgow, despite its reputation, is great. The Transport museum is an interesting place to visit. If you?re staying around Edinburgh then a visit to Museum of Flight at East Fortune (to the East of Edinburgh) is also a good place. They managed to bag one of the BA Concordes. If the A9 is out due to snow, then you could try the East coast route. The coastal route around Fife is lovely and St. Andrews is a great town with plenty of great places to eat and drink. There?s more to it than just golf. If you?re there on a Sunday, you can walk on the Old Course as it?s closed on a Sunday and it?s a public space still owned by the Council I seem to recall. Then Dundee has the Discovery, Scott?s Antarctic ship. The Coast road Aberdeen is pretty quiet these days so is a pleasant drive if you?re not in a hurry. Aberdeen still has its charms but the change in oil fortunes has left it as a bit of a ghost town. The Grampian transport museum is small but very interesting. I went as a schoolchild on a trip many years ago but I revisited it earlier this year with my kids and it has been revamped considerably and is very good. The North Deeside Road to Balmoral is also good and should be kept clear as it?s the main route into Aberdeen from the West. The road to Inverness from Aberdeen isn?t that inspiring but you will have to pass several distilleries on Speyside to get to Inverness!

I hope you and your wife have a good visit Jim.

1970 S4 DHC
1971 S2 Europa
1968 +2
Bombay Racing Green
Third Gear
Third Gear
Posts: 249
Joined: 05 Sep 2012
Location: Wicklow, Ireland

PostPost by: rcraven » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:57 am

If the weather isn't suitable for driving you could always make the same interesting journey by train: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_Main_Line
Third Gear
Third Gear
Posts: 254
Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Location: UK

PostPost by: 661 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:14 pm

At'll be a wee bit chilly-whally.
Peterson JPS Exige
User avatar
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
Posts: 841
Joined: 29 Mar 2012
Location: East Sussex

PostPost by: jimj » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:29 pm

We`ve been to Scotland a few times, mostly on the Scottish Malts, see https://heroevents.eu/event-type/scottish-malts/ you could look up the archives for some routes. I can`t imagine why you would want to go to Inverness unless there`s some compelling reason. There`s no end of other stunning driving roads.
OK, the weather will be poor but I`m guessing that snow is unlikely to be that much of a problem if you choose your route with that in mind. In Dumfrieshire they grow palm trees, you could drive up the west coast and take in various Lochs, and, if the weather is mild, head up into the highlands anyway.
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
Posts: 1135
Joined: 25 Feb 2008

PostPost by: alan.barker » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:33 pm

It would have been better in summer but as you have decided i suggest you hire a 4x4 a Land Rover.
You could visit the Jim Clark Museum
Alan.b Brittany 1972 elan sprint fhc Lagoon Blue 0460E
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
Posts: 2357
Joined: 06 Dec 2008

PostPost by: dgym » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:26 am

thank you all for such detailed responses! so much to think about now.
Ideally we would've traveled in warmer times but it wasn't possible due to work. We're doing Sweden for xmas (we have friends there) so yeah it's going to be a cold holiday.
Being used to uncomfortably hot xmas down here, why not experience the uncomfortably cold for a change?
1967 S3 Coupe (left the factory in 66)
original rego PPC 8E
original owner B.M. Wetherill ..are you out there?
User avatar
Third Gear
Third Gear
Posts: 353
Joined: 05 Apr 2014
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total Online:

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests