FOR some daft reason I can’t quite fathom now, I found myself up in Scotland over the weekend. My chariot for the trip was a Citroen C5 Exclusive with about 20 hours of MP3s loaded into the hard disc drive ICE system as my only company. Thankfully, the drive up was blessedly free of traffic, and the car took the journey in one huge gulp and completely in its stride – something, I guess we all expect from a full-sized modern car.
However, the blog isn’t so much about the Citroen – as good as it was. It’s more about Scotland and why, for the life of me, I haven’t been up there more often since moving to the East Midlands from Blackpool more than a decade ago. Back then, I’d think nothing of hopping in whatever hopeless heap I owned at the time, gunning up the M6 and A74 for three hours or so, and arriving in the Borders itching for a driving adventure.
The scenery bewitched, and the roads spoiled me completely. Honing your driving skills on sinuous switch-backs like these sets you in good stead for the rest of your life. Well, so I think.
I’d think nothing of hopping in whatever hopeless heap I owned at the time, gunning up the M6 and A74 for three hours or so, and arriving in the Borders itching for a driving adventure
Anyway, those old emotions returned with a vengeance over the weekend. Heading for the Western Highlands and then for Caithness, it struck me that, relatively speaking, we have some of the best driving roads in Europe on our own doorsteps. The roads themselves sweep and plunge through majestic scenery (yes, sorry for the cliche, but it is), and the traffic volume is utterly light. Or it was this weekend. Why anyone would choose to fly there is completely beyond me, if time’s not of the essence.
With the EU money pouring in North of the border, Scotland’s roads are incredibly well surfaced and marked too. Even the lardy Citroen was a real joy to drive in this playground – something that I’d never have expected.
The other thing that delighted me – and it’s something I’d forgotten – was just how well they drive up there in the Highlands. I guess the single-track mentality (these roads are common in the North and North West of Scotland) breeds courtesy and consideration for others and, as the signs by the side of the roads say, ‘Frustration causes accidents – move over for faster traffic’. In my time there, people did just that. No histrionics, no ego, no road rage. Drivers just seemed to get on and drive. It’s a lesson us Sassenachs could do with taking on board.
I will be back, sooner rather than later.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.