Need tips on driving Wales and Scotland


Mar 31st, 2011, 09:41 AM
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Need tips on driving Wales and Scotland

I very much want to visit Wales and Scotland on a self-driving tour but 10 years ago when we drove in Ireland for a week it was extremely stressful (as the passenger) sitting with a map in my lap and looking at the signs at each round a bout. The narrow roads without shoulders, just rock walls also made me stressed. At first I had read that Scottish roads were better, but then I have been reading trip reports of Wales and Scotland and I am having doubts. DH is the driver and he did a great job in Ireland but it was stressful for him too.
My question: Are there routes that would be fewer narrow roads with rock walls?
deladeb is offline  
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Mar 31st, 2011, 09:50 AM
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Scotland, Wales and Ireland (and much of England too) are all very similar once you get off the motorways and dual carriageways.

Yes, there are narrow roads (in some places especially in Scotland, single-track roads with passing places where you might have to back up a fair way to let another car pass). And there are roundabouts absolutely everywhere.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 09:55 AM
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hi deladeb,

it really depends which roads you are taking as mjdh has said. more and more dual carriageways are being built which will partially solve your problem so long as they go where you want to get to, but once you're off the main roads, who knows? the further you get from "civilisation" the worse it gets.

be grateful you're not headed to Cornwall - we specialise in what are called "cornish hedges" - they look green like a hedge, but underneath, pure granite! they can make a nasty mess of your car as well as fraying your nerves!
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Mar 31st, 2011, 11:07 AM
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Most roads in Scotland have one lane in each direction adn as long as you drive at a same speed you should have no problem. The main long distance routes are usually wider but have the disadvantage of being much busier, often with people driving at terrifying speeds.
In the more remote areas, especially in the north and north west, roads are often single track with regular pasing places that you pull into if someone comes the other way. You very quickly adjust to a lower speed, and after that I find it less stressful than driving on busier roads.
On road atlases the single track roads are usually shown in broken colour (most often red & white or brown & white) and roads with at least one lane in each direction have solid colour.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 01:19 PM
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Haven't been to Wales, but I found road conditions in the Scottish Highlands to be fine. Although single track roads were a little tricky, if you'll look around on the net, you'll find lots of information about how these work, complete with pictures. I drove almost a thousand miles in Scotland and don't recall any close calls with walls (or parked cars, for that matter).

Now, I can see where navigation can be a bit of an issue, but there are ways to make that easier. If you combine a decent map with a GPS, it's actually quite easy. If you want to go one step better, and are traveling with a laptop or notebook, you can buy Microsoft Autoroute 2010, with a GPS attachment (USB that plugs into your computer) and use your laptop as your GPS. This option allows you to create a file for each leg of your trip at home, at your convenience, and allows you to examine the route that the GPS will use in advance. Oftentimes, a GPS program will send you on a route that you would never take if you were planning the trip with a map, and the beauty of the Autoroute option is that you can see those selections and override them, opting for scenic routes and points of interest with ease.

Having said that, even if you just opt for a map, you can still do fine, but it would probably be worth your time to look at your routes online, using any of the various mapping programs, and maybe even "flying" your routes on Google Earth. Doing this will alert you to some of the hairier intersections that you will encounter.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 02:48 PM
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There are plenty of narrow and tiny roads in Scotland, but I think it's better than Ireland. Much depends upon where you're driving. Between major cities (Glasgow-Edinburgh, Edinburgh/Glasgow-Inverness, Edinburgh-Aberdeen, Glasgow-Ft. William, etc.) you should have decent roads, but may have a bunch of roundabouts. We had one heading into Aberdeen where two major roads met (the A90 and A93, IIRC) and it took about 30 minutes to get through it because the traffic flowed so slowly. Here's the rundown:

M roads are "Motorways." In Scotland an M road is a divided highway ("dual carriageway") with two lanes in each direction. To them, this is a major thoroughfare (here in Texas, it could be a side street). There are VERY few in Scotland, most are near Glasgow with some close to Edinburgh.

A roads are major roads. Some of these are, in whole or part, dual carriageway roads (like the A9 and A90). At minimum, they have well-defined single lanes traveling in each direction.

B roads are minor roads. They will have either single lanes in each direction separated by a painted line or they will be the Irish nightmare roads with no dividing line and no lane markings.

Finally, unnamed roads are the back roads between farms and villages that have no lane markings and they're all two-way. They can suck. They can also, if you map it out correctly, save you time as short-cuts.
BigRuss is offline  
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Apr 1st, 2011, 09:46 AM
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Thank-you for the tips...I appreciate it.
deladeb is offline  
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Apr 1st, 2011, 03:07 PM
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We used the AA website to map our routes, then printed directions, which we kept in a binder. I read them to Mr. Pickle as he drove, and marked off each one as we finished that bit.

This worked well overall, except for the day we traveled from Oxford to Stratford-upon-Avon. I'd forgotten to print the bit that told us how to get to our hostel, which was a couple of miles outside town. We couldn't get anyone to give us directions, and we drove this one stretch of road quite a few times before we finally got it figured out.

Lee Ann
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