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Single Tracked

   Single Tracked

You can fly into Glasgow Airport, pick up a hire car then set off to explore Scotland. If, on your travels, you reach Broadford you may pass by the Co-Op and then on a whim you may  turn left at the Broadford Hotel. That’s where it can all goes wrong.

There is a strong chance that you are about to encounter your first Single Track Road of the journey. Maybe the first one of your life…

You have found yourself on a narrow strip of tarmac with mysterious indentations called “passing place” that stretches from Broadford to Elgol. 17 miles of potential fear, panic, trauma and probably deep seated permanent mental scarring. You may have spent your life in London, New York, Paris, Tokyo or one of the world’s many urban conurbations never having had the opportunity or indeed the inclination to do much driving. Your roads are congested, the chance of a parking space slim and the public transport plentiful and efficient. But when you arrive in Scotland where the roads are empty(ish) parking aplenty and public transport kind of haphazard and fleeting you are handed the keys of a Fiat 500, and with a cheery smile waved off  into the unknown. An adventure that can end up as a Deliverance style nightmare on the Elgol road.

I have seen many things on the Elgol road. I have witnessed buses stopping on the middle of it to disgorge a torrent of passengers onto the road to photograph highland cows while we wait patiently behind them. I have seen young drivers getting so worked up and confused that they burst into tears instead of getting out of the way of the oncoming traffic while we wait patiently behind them. I have witnessed two drivers refusing to back down demanding the other reverse back to a passing place while we wait patiently behind them.  I have held my breath as drivers pulled into a passing place that wasn’t there and risked plummeting down a rocky slope to their doom. I have waved frantically, flashed lights, hooted horn and sworn loudly at foreign drivers accustomed to driving on the other side of the road pulled into the passing place on the wrong side. The same passing place that I am heading into. I have then waited patiently as they reversed erratically back onto the road.

I have laughed manically as cars zoomed straight off down the Kilbride road instead of following the curve of the Elgol road. They brake violently when they realise their mistake but I am already happily ahead of them. I have trundled along behind cars with a driver and passenger gesticulating furiously at a sat-nav while on a single track, single destination with no variations, alternative routes  dead end road as if getting angry with a screen will make them any less lost or change the outcome of their mystery tour.

The journey to Elgol should take about half an hour but in Summer it can take a morning or afternoon. It can be a soul destroying trip, so here are some top tips on driving it.

Stay calm

Don’t panic.

Keep out of my way.

Don’t drive at ten miles an hour.

If you do then a car will appear inches behind you with flashing lights, a loud horn and swear words.

Don’t stop to photograph the eagle, it’s a buzzard.

It’s the left. always the left.

A passing place isn’t a lay-by

A passing place isn’t a car-park

A passing place isn’t an overnight stop for campervans.

If you don’t heed the last three then you are a dick and will end up with a sheep’s head hidden near a part of your car that gets very hot.

Sheep have right of way.

Passing places with a diamond shaped sign are cooler than ones with a square sign.

The Elgol bus has priority over everybody.

No matter how fancy/sporty/powerful your car is it will never outpace the shagged out white fish van that is filling your mirrors.

The other vehicle that has priority is Love Skye Photography’s car. She has a wedding she can’t be late for.  If you impede her she will kill you.

She will not lose sleep over your death.

Enjoy Elgol when/if you make it there. It is very pretty.


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