Discover Sutherland - Your Local Guide
  Driving in Sutherland


The one thing that may surprise you about driving in Sutherland, whether you are from elsewhere in the UK or from further afield, are the single track roads. These are roads that, as their name implies, are only wide enough for one vehicle. In order for approaching vehicles to pass one another there are frequent 'passing places'. These are marked by white diamond-shaped signs (although in some cases you may see white squares or very rarely a black and white striped pole).

You need to take extra care when driving on these roads, particularly when approaching corners and summits. You must consider your speed carefully and if you cannot see that the road ahead is clear then you must slow right down. Expect the unexpected and always be prepared to stop.

You should also take the time to understand the correct use of passing places. Ideally, vehicles approaching one another should try to adjust their speed so that they meet at the passing place at the same time but more often that not one driver will have to stop and wait for the other vehicle to pass.

It is important to remember that if the passing place is on your left then you should pull in to it to let the approaching vehicle pass. However, if the passing place is on your right then you should wait on the road alongside the passing place. Do not pull across the road to enter a passing place on the right hand side.

Remember too that if someone has stopped at a passing place to let you pass, you should acknowledge them and thank them with a wave.

Passing places are also used to allow vehicles to overtake and you will see frequent police notices reminding drivers of this. If a vehicle catches up to you from behind then you should consider pulling over at the next safe passing place (indicating clearly to make your intentions known) to let him pass. The vehicle following you may flash his headlights - this should not be regarded as an aggressive move as it might in other parts of the country, they are simply letting you know that they would like to pass.

Another important point to remember is that passing places are just that - they are not lay-bys, parking areas or picnic spots and you should not park in them, no matter how spectacular the view!

Finally, be aware that most single track roads are unfenced and in many places you will encounter sheep (and in more remote areas even cattle) grazing on the verges or wandering in the road itself. They often seem unconcerned by traffic, but animals are unpredicatable and you need to pay particular attention should you come across any on your journey.

With a bit of extra care and consideration, you can make good progress on these roads. Traffic levels are generally low and the times you do have to stop and wait for other traffic to pass should not be regarded as inconveniences but as part of the unique experience of driving in the Scottish Highlands!


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