second thoughts on driving in Scotland and Scottish community

After 3 days on the left hand side of the road and the right hand side of the car, I am driving like a modern day Enzo Ferrari: slingshoting around tight corners, drafting behind fast-moving locals and passing two cars in a single burst of light speed.  This is fun and I want to do more of it!  Unfortunately Rick is in a near coma from anti-anxiety medication.  Hey, I can’t solve for everything!

The key to getting comfortable driving here is simple but revolutionary:  drivers in Scotland look out for one another.  Example: the roads are impossibly narrow, so drivers expect that someone turning onto the street may nudge into the oncoming lane a bit.  They slow down and accommodate other cars.  What a concept!  Scottish drivers have evolved without the sense of entitlement that every American driver is born with.  You know what I’m talking about:  “This is my road, I was here first, how dare you do anything that requires me to lift a toe from the accelerator or alter my trajectory by an inch!”  I am just as guilty as the average American driver, taking a sick sense of justice from riding the rear bumper of anyone foolish enough to turn into “my” lane.

I probably don’t need to tell you driving this way is SO MUCH nicer!  Instead of feeling like a jerk (albeit “justified”), you feel like a caring member of a community.  All that pay it forward crap.  When I make it back to the States, I am going to try very hard to implement this driving philosophy.  After all, a 30 second driving delay is not worth elevating my blood pressure, which equates to shortening my lifespan by 5 minutes.

Here are a few new funnies about driving in Scotland that we’ve discovered since I last posted:

In Scotland they have what are called “single track” roads.  This is where a road is only wide enough for a single car going in a single direction, but the road is open to two-way traffic.  Red that again – there is no typo.  Every 25-50 yards there is a tiny pregnant bump on the edge of the road where one car is expected to pull over so the oncoming car can pass.  I always realized I was headed toward a head-on collision exactly half-way from the last “passing area.  This meant one of us had to reverse (on a tiny, narrow single lane road) for 50 yards.

Single track Isle of Skye
Single track road with “passing area” to the right and just in front of the third car

This was thrilling for a couple of reasons:

  1. It is a legally sanctioned game of chicken!
  2. I get to reverse at relatively rapid speeds without looking like an idiot!
  3. It is totally fun to drive really fast on tiny, twisty roads!
  4. The scenery was INCREDIBLE.

View from "Castle" Ord Road

I will admit, I did not have the cojones to take many pictures on these roads, but I did just google single track roads.  Every image was in Scotland.  They must be the only folks crazy enough to institutionalize this!

I do think driving in Scotland is the only way to see the incredible scenery.  So, if you don’t have an ex-Special Ops friend, get yourself a pair of driving gloves, and buckle up.  Trust me, after a couple of days it will be old hat!




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