Hairpin Turns and Suicide Sheep: On Driving in Scotland!

      I went driving yesterday and today on the isle of Mull and then down to Kilmartin Glen. . . and the good news is I survived! I have to say that it’s interesting driving here in Scotland — and driving on the wrong/left-hand side of the road is the least of it….

    First — there’s the distance thing. Everytime I asked how long it would take for me to get from one place to another, I was told 30 minutes. Craignure to Tobermory? 30 minutes. Tobermory to Dervaig? 30 minutes. Oban to Kilmartin? 30 minutes. Obviously, we must use different measurements of time and distance in the US than here in the UK….30 minutes my arse!  

    The only way that can happen is if you’re not driving, but are flying your car overhead – as the crow flies because these roads are like your intestines — a short distance if you measure on the outside, but 30 feet if you stretch them out and measure from end to end. (sorry — it seemed the perfect explanation!)  

FYI – Oban to Kilmartin? closer to an hour of break-neck turns and hills and wind and rain!

And these mean what....???!

And these mean what....???!

When you see signs like these — it’s your first warning that: a)the road is narrowing, and b) it’s curving, too! But it’s still all good because at this point, there will still be two lanes – one for each direction of traffic. They may be small and curve wildly up or down the mountainside, but there are TWO of them.



And take a look at the two photos below — the one on the left (I hope) shows the width of my car and the width of the road – a single track road. Not a whole-lot-a extra road space there, huh? The second one shows a little place calling a PASSING Place – can you imagine two cars or a bus or truck edging over to their side and and easing past each other — uh, yeah. It’s how it all works and the very reason why I will need more help from my colorist when I get home to cover all my new gray hairs from the experience!


Look at the width of my car -- then the road? Which is bigger?

Look at the width of my car -- then the road? Which is bigger?


                                   A Passing Place!


Next driving challenge :

Red AND Yellow? Huh?So, if GREEN means go, and YELLOW means slow down and RED mean stop, what the heck do red AND yellow mean at the same time? This light (sorry for the wiper blade in the middle of the photo) is at a construction site on a single-track road on the way to Kilmartin. Apparently, in the UK, they use this signal to alert drivers that light will be changing to green next… Do you know what would happen in the US if they told us the green light was coming soon? LOL – I know, but here it seems to work.

The Back End of a Suicide Sheep!

The Back End of a Suicide Sheep!


Yes, this sheep decided not to die today and instead, wisely, meandered back off the road before I hit it with my cute little blue rental car! Out on Mull (and in many other places where they have single-track roads), sheep are free to range and graze, walking out on the road by themselves or in groups.  They then stand and wait for a foreign driver to come over a hill and remain still – forcing said foreign driver to come to a screeching halt. I suspect that these suicide sheep know many curse words in many different languages. I also suspected them to be like cats, but cats would continue to stare you down and never move first. Sheep finally look at you and then walk away. Fun….

Well, I think I’m getting accustomed to these Scottish driving practices, but I have many miles ahead yet to drive. I’m sure there are still some surprises out there for me!

Check back in tomorrow — I’ll be attending a MacRae Clan Gathering at Eilean Donan Castle! Surely I’ll spot my first Scottish-man-in-a-kilt there? If not, there’s the MacLeod Clan Gathering at Dunvegan Castle on Skye Saturday night.


3 thoughts on “Hairpin Turns and Suicide Sheep: On Driving in Scotland!”

  1. Mo Boylan says:

    Ahhhh yes…I remember those yellow lights LOL Whereas in the States they tell you to get ready to stop…in Scotland they mean get ready to GO! hee hee

    And those passing thingys? I never quite understood who knew to give who the right of way. I keep imagining both cars pulled over and a fight breaking out over who should go first LOL You go….no YOU go…no really YOU go! hee hee

    Have you seen any bald sheep yet? They look so weird without their fur LOL

  2. Mo —

    The funniest thing about the sheep is that they paint them to tell whose is whose — so there are sheep with swatches of red or blue or green, and today on Lewis I saw the most gorgeous shades of pink and turquoise and jade green!!

    Right now they haven’t been shorn yet, so they’re big and shaggy. The sun came out today on Harris and Lewis and they all laid themselves on the edges of the roads, enjoying the warmth of the blacktop in the sun!! Couldn’t believe it — and was driving too fast to take photos of them…


  3. Paula Gill says:

    Ah, sweetie. You’re bringing back memories. 🙂
    Try those one-lane roads with high shrubberies brushing each side of your car. I could’ve walked faster than I drove some of those.

    As for the sheep… You won’t be seeing “nekkid” sheep this time of year. They’re shorn in the spring and allowed to grow their warm wooly coats through the winter.

    I snorted at your “30 minutes”. In New Zealand it was 10.

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