I don’t often drive; I don’t even own a car. But on certain trips renting a car is the right call even if it is driving on the left side of the road. Scotland was one of those trips.
I decided to drive and hire a car in Glasgow since my time was short in the country and the first days were about attending a wedding (in a kilt). I knew the entire trip would be an adventure and it was.
In my Ford Focus I navigated the gorgeous green countryside, boarded a ferry to an island, and cruised the capital city streets of Glasgow. Yes, driving in Scotland was indeed an adventure.
The left side of the road
It may not be the wrong side to everyone, but it certainly isn’t the right side. Driving on the left side changes everything. Add a stick shift and not only do you need to judge your special relationships with a bit more caution, but you also need to coordinate the feet differently. It’s a change, one that requires focus. Game on.
The Scottish Countryside
After receiving helpful and accurate directions (no GPS for me) my next stop was the Island of Arran. Yes, an island. I needed to take a ferry across the sea. But first I needed to find ferry terminal through single lane roads of the Scottish countryside.
Thankfully the countless roundabouts en route were well marked and rather large. Not nearly as impossible as I first thought. The challenge became passing an oncoming car and passing it when the road curved. Yikes. But after each pass, I started to enjoy the road.
No surprise much of my drive occurred with a grey sky and various forms of rain that tested my ability to find the proper windshield wiper speed, but when the sun did shine, the views delighted. The rolling green hills, sheep, cattle and eventually a wind farm did delight.
Passage to the Island of Arran
Upon approaching the ferry terminal, it was debatable if the ferry would cross. That afternoon the weather and winds were at caution yellow. There was a chance I’d be spending the night in Ardrossan (the mainland).
But when the ship came to port, I enthusiastically asked the ticket collector if the weather improved and if we’d make passage. He simply replied, “No, it hasn’t, but she’ll still go.” Not the confidence I hoped, but I knew I wasn’t driving this part of the journey; I just needed to park it tightly on the ship. I did.
And then actually having a car on the island was the best call. The one main circular road provides opportunities to visit the Arran Brewery, Arran Aromatics, Arran Adventures and more. Countless cute towns and seaside views are worth a stop too. I even attempted to capture a sunset one evening. The island and Scotland are so beautiful when Mother Nature allows you to see a glimpse of her.
After a few days exploring the Isle of Arran, I returned and traveled to Glasgow. Back across the ferry and then off to the city. After a return through the countryside next up was entrance to the highway to the city and traffic. Highway traffic and multiple lanes were a change and a new experience from the left side, but it was the hills of Glasgow I’d remember most. In a standard shift you should fear them. But it is good in life to conquer your fears. I am glad Glasgow turned out to be a walkable city from my centre city hotel.
Adventure Travel Mindset Tip
People might not consider it as adventurous as renting a car in Mexico, but after my recent adventure I beg to differ. It truly was an adventure in itself. I am not advocating renting a car just to drive on the “other-side” of the road. No. I am advocating trying something that requires concentration and focus. And to try something new.
Sure, driving might be part of a boring routine for many, but when you travel new roads, see a new gorgeous countryside, take a ferry, and set out to explore – that’s adventure.
stay adventurous, Craig
I’d like to thank ArgusCarHire for assisting me with my rental from Alamo. I enjoyed my time in the Ford Focus. But as always, the opinions and adventures were my own.