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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Afternoon all, I'm starting to plan a road trip around the highlands of Scotland. Planned a rough route from the West Mids as far north as Ullapool and over to Skye, and various others in between.

Here's the odd bit. I was planning on doing this either sometime just before or just after Christmas. If anyone lives there or has done something similar do I need to be concerned about the types of roads that far north and the weather i.e. Ice / snow in a 400HP rear drive car, and also how frequent are the petrol stations is it nothing to worry about or would at some point it require some forward thinking?

The route is linked below and i was planning on doing it across a long weekend, more than likely Thursday evening shooting up to somewhere around Glasgow, finding a hotel then getting on first thing Friday morning through till Monday night.

Route

Inspiration for the trip is seeing some of the pictures on this site and wanting to get to know my car better

Inspiration

Any comments criticism tips?
 

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Can you choose a different time of year? I'm a local and chances are the weather will be awful. Awful in this instance can mean lashing, horizontal rain; snow; frost; or hurricane force winds. It's the Scottish Highlands and the weather can be epic (maybe even biblical?) during the winter. Sometimes you can get all those weather conditions within just a few days. Road closures due to snow are a common occurrence in the remote parts of the Highlands during the winter & getting stuck on the wrong side of a closed road can lead to stranding due to lack of detour options.

I notice from your 'inspiration' link that the sun is shining in all but 4 of the 22 photographs, I would say a reverse of that ratio is a better (and optimistic) reflection of reality. Of course, you may get lucky and have fine, settled weather but official weather records indicate otherwise.

If you do make the trip you'll find your Beast might be an uncontrollable handful on cold and snowy roads without proper winter tyres. I put my M5 away for the winter and use an E39 530d (manual) shod with relatively narrow section winter tyres since on regular summer rubber the 530d can often be undriveable on lightly frosted roads, or those with a just a thin layer of snow. Winter rubber makes a huge difference to mobility with my 530d at this time of year/season.

Your route looks fine with many interesting roads. I would add the B863 loop to Kinlochleven (the 'Scotsburgring') to your itinerary as it is a great and entertaining drive (....if the road is warm and dry). I also have a personal like for the road north out of Ullapool (A835 - A837 - A894 towards Kylesku and Laxford Bridge) through Assynt and the NW Highlands 'Geopark'. Stunning, wild mountain landscape, great roads and a brilliant, graceful bridge at Kylesku. You really feel you're on the raw outer edge of Europe...next stop north west is Iceland!

My advice is to watch the weather forecast closer to Christmas and be prepared cancel or postpone at short notice.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Can you choose a different time of year? I'm a local and chances are the weather will be awful. Awful in this instance can mean lashing, horizontal rain; snow; frost; or hurricane force winds. It's the Scottish Highlands and the weather can be epic (maybe even biblical?) during the winter. Sometimes you can get all those weather conditions within just a few days. Road closures due to snow are a common occurrence in the remote parts of the Highlands during the winter & getting stuck on the wrong side of a closed road can lead to stranding due to lack of detour options.

I notice from your 'inspiration' link that the sun is shining in all but 4 of the 22 photographs, I would say a reverse of that ratio is a better (and optimistic) reflection of reality. Of course, you may get lucky and have fine, settled weather but official weather records indicate otherwise.

If you do make the trip you'll find your Beast might be an uncontrollable handful on cold and snowy roads without proper winter tyres. I put my M5 away for the winter and use an E39 530d (manual) shod with relatively narrow section winter tyres since on regular summer rubber the 530d can often be undriveable on lightly frosted roads, or those with a just a thin layer of snow. Winter rubber makes a huge difference to mobility with my 530d at this time of year/season.

Your route looks fine with many interesting roads. I would add the B863 loop to Kinlochleven (the 'Scotsburgring') to your itinerary as it is a great and entertaining drive (....if the road is warm and dry). I also have a personal like for the road north out of Ullapool (A835 - A837 - A894 towards Kylesku and Laxford Bridge) through Assynt and the NW Highlands 'Geopark'. Stunning, wild mountain landscape, great roads and a brilliant, graceful bridge at Kylesku. You really feel you're on the raw outer edge of Europe...next stop north west is Iceland!

My advice is to watch the weather forecast closer to Christmas and be prepared cancel or postpone at short notice.
I can choose a different time yeah I've just got abit excited and want to go now :) was looking at mid November, but thanks for the tip I'll look back through old weather records.

Rain and drizzle doesn't bother me part and parcel of going to Scotland ;), but as you mentioned snow and ice and road closures that is something that would spoil the trip.

Thanks for the addition after posting this I did read about the "Scotsburgring", when do you reckon is the earliest in the year the journey is possible in the M5, I know your not a weather man but just from rough experience.

Thanks for your input
 

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Weather & interpreting weather forecasts is very much part of what I do for a living during the winter months.

When's best for driving up here? Let's put it this way, I put my M5 away at the end of October and it comes out on the road again at the beginning of May. That's not to say there aren't periods of OK weather for an enjoyable drive between Oct & May, just way fewer of them. Also, you're looking for road temperatures several degrees above 7 degrees C. if running summer tyres on an M5 in the Scottish Highlands. (Below 7 degrees C. you really ought to be on winter rubber for best grip and stopping power). Dry roads are uncommon during the winter months, too.

The weather in May & June can be great (very few biting midges at this time too) with loads of tourists in July and August. September and October can also be good (it hasn't rained for a month as I compose this!) with autumn colour & fewer tourists added bonuses.

Best to be able to depart for your trip at short notice when there's a weather window.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Just been looking through on the Met Office historical weather averages for the closest station which is further north than Ullapool (which is the most northern point I was planning)

And at least as far as average high / low temp. and average rainfall doesn't seem too bad, I appreciate this doesn't take into account heavy fog and any ice that can form over night

The coldest months from looking is Jan/Feb. November seems to hang somewhere between 13 degrees and 2 degrees
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That was an interesting read :)

I've already scoped out the petrol stations and there seems to be enough of them that it shouldnt really be a problem and I'm not exactly on a timer like they are.

What do you mean trashing the car? I'm not going to crash (famous last words) i'm not worried about it getting mucky from winter roads though
 

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Can you choose a different time of year? I'm a local and chances are the weather will be awful. Awful in this instance can mean lashing, horizontal rain; snow; frost; or hurricane force winds. It's the Scottish Highlands and the weather can be epic (maybe even biblical?) during the winter. Sometimes you can get all those weather conditions within just a few days. Road closures due to snow are a common occurrence in the remote parts of the Highlands during the winter & getting stuck on the wrong side of a closed road can lead to stranding due to lack of detour options.

I notice from your 'inspiration' link that the sun is shining in all but 4 of the 22 photographs, I would say a reverse of that ratio is a better (and optimistic) reflection of reality. Of course, you may get lucky and have fine, settled weather but official weather records indicate otherwise.

If you do make the trip you'll find your Beast might be an uncontrollable handful on cold and snowy roads without proper winter tyres. I put my M5 away for the winter and use an E39 530d (manual) shod with relatively narrow section winter tyres since on regular summer rubber the 530d can often be undriveable on lightly frosted roads, or those with a just a thin layer of snow. Winter rubber makes a huge difference to mobility with my 530d at this time of year/season.

Your route looks fine with many interesting roads. I would add the B863 loop to Kinlochleven (the 'Scotsburgring') to your itinerary as it is a great and entertaining drive (....if the road is warm and dry). I also have a personal like for the road north out of Ullapool (A835 - A837 - A894 towards Kylesku and Laxford Bridge) through Assynt and the NW Highlands 'Geopark'. Stunning, wild mountain landscape, great roads and a brilliant, graceful bridge at Kylesku. You really feel you're on the raw outer edge of Europe...next stop north west is Iceland!

My advice is to watch the weather forecast closer to Christmas and be prepared cancel or postpone at short notice.
Bit of a thread resurrection...but if you're out there Ramigojag, the bad weather has already started up here in the Scottish Highlands. Have a look at this, esp the bit about the 'Weather Bomb':

BBC News - 'Weather bomb' raises risk of severe gales for Scotland

Not saying it will necessarily be like this for your proposed road trip later in the month but the weather can be dramatically worse than in England. Quite often the new media don't pick up on how bad the weather really is north of the border. Choose you road trip dates carefully in order to take advantage of good weather 'windows'.

The roads further north & west of where I live are pretty deserted right now but only for bad reasons! Bon chance!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Bit of a thread resurrection...but if you're out there Ramigojag, the bad weather has already started up here in the Scottish Highlands. Have a look at this, esp the bit about the 'Weather Bomb':

BBC News - 'Weather bomb' raises risk of severe gales for Scotland

Not saying it will necessarily be like this for your proposed road trip later in the month but the weather can be dramatically worse than in England. Quite often the new media don't pick up on how bad the weather really is north of the border. Choose you road trip dates carefully in order to take advantage of good weather 'windows'.

The roads further north & west of where I live are pretty deserted right now but only for bad reasons! Bon chance!
Thanks for that, I heeded your advice and I'm delaying till spring time. I will enjoy the roads and scenery more I think if I leave it for a few months. Plus I don't particularly want to have to put a set of winter tyres on when the car rarely moves when it's cold wet or salty on the roads.
 
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