The glitter of frost on the grass, that crisp smell of cold morning air, the warmth of a cosy home banishing the biting cold from your cheeks as you retreat inside – this really is the perfect time of year to get closer to nature. True summer’s sunshine and autumn’s golden hues are real winners, but nothing compares with the cosy wintertime vibes.
Then again, winter isn’t always the easiest season to contend with, particularly if you’re making the most of the season by hiring a motorhome in Scotland. Even if you can make your peace with the red nose, the bracing wind, the ‘cold bed dance’ and the numb fingers and toes, just getting about – from point A to point B – can sometimes be a real chore.
On average, Scotland sees more than 14.5 inches of snow per year – and, as any driver knows, navigating the roads when the world is slowly turning white is not only tricky, but dangerous.
So, before you start exploring Scotland’s Christmassy side, here’s what you need to remember about driving in the snow, before you get behind the wheel.
1. Erring on the Side of Caution is Always Better than Taking Chances
Snow can be light, brief, and leave nothing but a light dusting on the world below that doesn’t pose any real issues to drives. At times, the snow can fall much heavier and never even settle. Others, however, it can come out of nowhere and coat the landscape in a thick blanket that turns all but the most necessary journeys into fools’ errands.
There’s no way of measuring whether your journey is a good idea or a bad one. It all comes down to common-sense, and whether or not you think getting behind the wheel is a risk or not.
Look at the road surface – consider whether you’ll be going down any narrower, quieter lanes that won’t have been cleared quite as quickly as the main roads. Is it still snowing? Do you feel confident driving not just with things the way they are, but if they get worse?
Unless it’s an emergency, erring on the side of caution is the best tactic. Get the motorhome heated, get some cocoa going, and enjoy experiencing one of the most beautiful phases this landscape goes through each year.
2. If Snow is on the Forecast, Don’t Go Anywhere Without a Plan
While the roads don’t grind to a halt at the first sign of snow, it’s still important that we take note of the risks of being caught out by a sudden turn. If you’re due to head from one campsite to the next, think carefully about the journey – how long it is, how far it will take you from civilisation – because you don’t want to have to pull over for hours (or overnight) in the middle of nowhere.
Use a winter checklist, like this one from Confused, to make sure everything’s as it should be before you fire up the engine. Also, check the Satnav, work out whether or not your route suits the conditions. This brings us right back around to being cautious, and working out whether the journey warrants the risk.
3. Drive with Dipped Headlights, Even if it’s Daytime
Snowfall, like rainfall, can make it trickier to discern other cars on the road. Full beams will, of course, dazzle other drivers, and make things more dangerous for the both of you. Don’t drive off until you’ve got the headlights on – that way, you can be sure other drivers will spot you from a distance, and slow down accordingly.
4. Pack More Than Enough Supplies
Even with plenty of caution, there’s always a risk that you will be stranded at the roadside as a result of a particularly drastic change in the weather. It can happen to people caught-out on their routine drive to work or the supermarket – and that means it could definitely happen during a driving holiday in an unfamiliar area.
You don’t need to scare yourself, but you do need to be prepared. Just make sure you’ve got more food and water on board than you necessarily need for the journey in a best-case-scenario. Our motorhomes come with at least one bottle of gas, so you’ll be able to keep it warm and cook up some food.
They also have 24/7 on-road support. So, while it always pays to be cautious and to do some prior planning, you don’t need to let a little change in the weather derail your adventure through Scotland’s most beautiful spots.