Surviving Scotland's single-track roads
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Single track roads are great. They take routes through some of the loveliest parts of Scotland, past abandoned ‘clearance’ villages, lofty hills, dark brooding forest and hill forts. They are stress-free apart from having to dodge the occasional badger deer or the more occasional otter.
You can breathe the keen air, smile and thank your God that you live in this beautiful land.
Then you round a bend adjoining the glittering loch and find the camper-van and/or caravan.
They are, of course, entitled to use this road as much as the next person. Unfortunately some drivers also believe they are entitled to drive as slow as they wish while they take in the glorious hitherto mentioned scenery (the more seasoned travellers, on the other hand, are brilliant - Thank you!).
For those who are not quite up to the driving abilities of the seasoned camper-van drivers, my preferred method of signalling that I have more important or pressing business to attend to is as described in an earlier post (No, not the pulling out and hoping one – the other one).
I try this method first because my last resort of forcing their bus into a ditch and calmly beating them to death with their own porta-potti is generally frowned upon and not in keeping with the traditional Scottish welcome travellers have come to know and expect.
Unfortunately, many people have never heard of the former method and appear to assume that the Scottish heathen riding their tale is an aggressive clansman. They will look into their mirror, laugh grimly at this diseased son of a goat behind them and carry on at 6.5 miles per hour, occasionally slowing down further to point out interesting birds, seals or trees to their companion.
Single track roads in Scotland have something called ‘passing places’. In Argyll they are marked with a wooden pole, helpfully painted black and white and to stand out so one can work out where to pull over.
The idea is really simple. If someone wishes to go a tad faster than you, you either pull over into a passing bay or stop opposite one to let the other vehicle pass. What you don’t do is keep driving for 20 odd miles - as slowly as you can without actually stopping.
This is a source of frustration to many who live in Scotland to the extent that some councils have replaced the traditional black and white wooden poles with metal signs that say ‘Passing place’ in big friendly letters.
I do believe that many people must think it is something cryptic in Gaelic that actually means ‘Car Park’ because that is what will quite often happen. It is not unusual to find cars and camper-vans taking up whole passing places with their vehicles whilst they have a wee barbecue or offload their kayaks into the loch. It is more than a little vexing because if one meets an oncoming vehicle, there is suddenly no-where for anyone to go short of reversing some considerable distance to the next passing place. And in some areas these can be few and far between, not least the fact that going backwards around a tight bend can result in severe loss of bumper.
And that is all I'm going to say.