Good times and insane roads are basically everything you should expect from a road trip to the Highlands. Last month WeaselWerkz took a trip to the Scottish Highlands. What started out as an impromptu snowboard trip quickly turned into a smooth cruising Highland roads exploration. For this 1500 mile endeavour we chose the BMW E46 touring and the aptly named Volvo 940 Highlander.
The outward leg of 500 miles was the journey that we were anticipating the most due to the e46 having only recently had the engine swapped into it and the 940 having distributor issues a few days before the trip. However, our mechanical worries were unwarranted as both made the journey without any struggles, other than a front right blowout on the e46 at about 80 mph. A 'quick' seaside detour of about 150 miles to find somewhere that stocked some cheap Chinese rubber in the right size then all was back on track. The route to the highlands is rather dull for the majority as it is mainly motorways but once an hour past Glasgow you find yourself entering a drivers treasure chest. It had been raining heavily all day so the roads were essentially rivers but it was still impossible to not enjoy driving them - even when you couldn't see much due to the lack of daylight.
We finally arrived in the e46 at around 10pm which made it around a 15 hour journey due to the detour. Day breaks on the sleepy mountains and we found ourselves nestled in the heart of the West Highlands - conveniently located right next to what has been dubbed one of the best driving roads in the UK. After shovelling down some breakfast we hopped in the motors to take a cruise on the A82 and gain our bearings on the area. The road winds up and down, past lochs and through undulating mountains, with a fairly smooth road surface to complement it minus the occasional butthole destroying pothole.
We spent the day just driving around the local area soaking everything up and stopping at views every 50m. To put the scenery into perspective, it is the area used to shoot remote location scenes in big budget cinema. We were 10 minutes drive from the road in Skyfall where Bond says he grew up, and 30 minutes or so from the train bridge in Harry Potter. The Potter bridge we only briefly stopped by to admire some pretty crazy historic engineering but the Bond road was another story. On day 2 we made an early start and headed straight to the start of the Bond road, which is on the Glen Etive estate to catch the sunrise. We weren’t quite in an Aston but that didn’t take away from the driving experience. You aren’t really flying down it due to the unkept nature of the road surface but even at 40mph it’s still a sensual joyride as you follow a stream that carves through the rugged terrain with intimidating mountains towering over you. The colours and textures of the Highlands really are epic. We were in our element and we took ample time to film and shoot some content of the cars.
The next day we attempted to try and act on the snowboard trip that we had hoped for, but snow conditions in the local area had been abysmal with no snow and very high winds. We decided to head for Glenshee which was about 2 and a half hours away - about an hour in it started snowing and we thought we were going to be blessed. After a slow and slippery journey there along some windy backroads we arrived at Glenshee, low and behold there was a staggering one slope open... To top it off the majority was man-made snow, at this point we had come to the conclusion that snowboarding in Scotland was pretty much a no-go. We rode the snow for an hour or two before the Highlands turned on us, it started dumping it with snow and the crazy winds turned everything into a tundra.
It was at this point we questioned our escape in the cars. We realised that we had entered via a super steep hill and rushed to throw all our snowboard stuff into the cars. About 30 seconds into the drive we came into a queue of cars that were already stuck. This stopped our momentum and the E46 struggled to get going on the steep incline covered in fresh snow due to the stretched summer tyres. After the passengers hopped out into the blizzard to stop the 46 fishtailing and burn through the snow, we got it moving and creeped slowly up to the top of the hill. The snow was short lived and in about 10 minutes we were out of the thick of it. Scottish weather is wild. Thankfully there was a field of big ginger hairy cows to stop at on the way back.
For snowboard attempt number two we stayed local at Glencoe resort, this proved to be much more fruitful. More runs were open and conditions were tolerable. We had a day of stupid crashes, fun side hits and attempts to spray each other. Once we were done we took our last cruise of the local roads and soaked it all up in preparation for the drive home the next day.
Up early and all bags packed, we played a real life game of tetris in the cars and set off. The journey is super enjoyable before you hit the motorway and then the mind-numbing miles begin.
The 2 cars made the entire trip without pretty much any fatalities - the e46’s tyre being the sole problem. This paired with the never ending driving experiences, insane views, snowboarding and no broken bones, we count our trip to the Highlands a pretty successful one. If you ever get the chance, we would definitely recommend it as it has to be up there as one of the best places to drive in the world. Oh and also haggis is banging. We’ve put together a cinematic piece to document our trip, so head over to the Youtube channel for your viewing pleasure!
Catch you on the next one!