Plan, prepare, think safety first
With the winter season in full swing, expect the early morning chill and the shorter days.
We all try to prepare for it, but it always feels like a surprise when you’re out scrapping your windscreen in the morning. If you’re planning a visit to the Scottish Highlands during winter, here are a few tips to consider before you set off.
The Scottish Highlands are notorious for wet and cold conditions in the winter. But what people don’t always realise is that the temperature reported on all our devices isn’t necessarily all you need to look for. In the Highlands there are a lot of valleys which cold wind will whistle through and cause wind chill. Make sure you pack well, bring appropriate water and wind chill resistant clothing and footwear. In your car always keep a set of waterproof clothing. Keep a spare set of warm clothing just in case you do get wet, and layers, lots of layers. Bring a torch and a map, we always rely on our mobile devises now, have a backup plan just in case. A good torch won’t run out of battery quickly and a map doesn’t need a good signal.
Plan your routes
In the Highlands you will come across many mini climates, therefore you’ll find the weather in one location different to another even if it’s only 2 miles down the road. As you travel across the Highlands you will notice the change in weather quite frequently. We always recommend you check the forecast for the route you’re taking, the whole route! Because of the mini climates the weather can be difficult to predict. Therefore, we recommend checking the forecast on the day of travel, on the day the forecast will be quite accurate, there is no point looking a week before you’re meant to take the journey.... It will change!
Due to the cold weather and the sharp winds you may come across ice or snow on the roads, this is not an uncommon thing in the Highlands. You will probably find that snow will mainly keep to the highs of the mountain peaks and not the roads, but this does depend on where you are traveling to, and how busy the roads are that you plan to travel. There are a lot of single-track roads in the Highlands that are not as busy as the main roads. This is where you may find snow on your path. Ice on the roads is the main thing to be aware of due to the cold and wet weather. Thankfully, the Scottish Highland council have a large team of gritters who work across Scotland. But the best thing is they have a website you can visit and track the gritters so you can plan your route accordingly. You can find the details on the Traffic Scotland website. They also name their gritters, names such as ‘Sir Grits-a-lot’ which adds a comical value. Which gritter are you planning to follow?
Before you leave
In the morning, before you leave, double check the opening times of where you plan to visit on that day. In the Highlands it’s rare to find that everything you want to see on your holiday is just around the corner, a lot of things will need travelling to and in the winter the daylight hours are a lot shorter. It can be quite disappointing travelling for a few hours just to find that the place you wanted to visit is closed due to the hours being different in the winter season. Or even the weather causing an unexpected closure.
When visiting the Scottish Highlands, plan, prepare, and think safety first.