Scotland has more scenery than you can imagine. As one person put it, a postcard out every window. Imagine a place the size of South Carolina that includes palm trees, reindeer, hundreds of islands, the largest neolithic henge in Europe, the best preserved neolithic village in Europe, northern lights, the Willow Tea Rooms, hairy coos, TABLET, nearly 200 whisky distilleries, castle and kilts (of course!)… and top notch public transportation.
Here’s the catch, though. Scotland also has the Highlands, which remain some of the least populous terrain in any developed country. The English got around to building a few roads through the Highlands in the 18th century to facilitate troop movements, and that was pretty much the last major infrastructure initiative in the northwestern half of Scotland.
The top notch public transportation is the sunny side of a situation that can require driving forty miles around a loch that’s
one mile across; and that road, she is QUITE scenic and might be one lane in places.
This is why I count among my major accomplishments in 2015, DRIVING IN SCOTLAND–all by myself. I started off as a co-pilot to a travelin’ buddy who knew what she doing behind a Scottish wheel. When we reached the MacBoondocks, she let me have a turn. Eventually, I solo’d, rented my own vehicle, and even tooled around in Perth, a city of 50,000.
“So you drove in Scotland. What’s the big deal?”
The big deal is that for an American, you are sitting on the passenger side of the vehicle, and you are piloting that car down the wrong side of the highway. When you pull out of the parking lot at major attractions, you will see signs in six languages admonishing all and sundry to “KEEP LEFT.”
Drivers in Scotland apparently come in more than six languages. Wheee! Add to this the fact that in much of the country, the road signs are in two languages, and your American brain takes a while to figure out which one is English.
And guardrails? Guardrails are for countries in need of tort law reform and single payer health care systems. In Scotland, you will see the occasional guard rail, but you’re morel likely to see sheep on the highway.Then there are the roundabouts…
Yes, I count driving in Scotland as an accomplishment, in part because I want to live there someday, and to see all there is to see, driving is a necessary skill. In a small way, it’s like learning the language so I can talk to the locals.
I tackled this challenge in what I think were planned, manageable, safe steps, but maybe you’ve set some challenges in the past year that required more of a leap of faith. I’d like to hear about both approaches to challenges met and bested in 2015, and to one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Daniel’s True Desire.
And if you’d like to join me for 2016’s adventure in Scotland, click here for more information on Scotland with Grace (and hairy coos, kilts, and castles)!