Stuck in the Scottish Highlands!

A few weeks ago I was in Wales climbing mountains in the heart of Snowdonia. This week I am in Scotland climbing mountains in the heart of Cairngorms!

I got to the village of Braemar last night and it has been a struggle travelling by car for nearly 11 hours, though we did have a stop at the English-Scottish border for shopping and another stop at Falkirk for groceries. Within the last hour of reaching Braemar, I entered the narrow and windy roads as I started to ascend the snowy tracks leading to the destination. Problems started to occur from then as the predicted blizzard approaches, blurring the visibility from the windscreen.  A car passing us from the other side, coming down the hill, flashed us with their headlights but we were unsure as to why.

Moments later, as we are heading to the top of the hill the snow has started to build up and it was more difficult to drive up as the wheels started spinning. Luckily we were not alone as another car zoomed past us and guided us through the treacherous road. Both cars put on their hazard warning lights as we continued the journey of no return, as going back will be a 2-hour detour via Aberdeen and be backtracking through Perth.

Slowly, slowly we continued until we ground to a halt as we approached another car with their hazard lights on. We did not want to overtake as the snowy and icy road will only be steeper and more difficult to get by on our own. There were a few options by this point:

  • Unpack our never-unpacked tyre grips, push uphill through the blizzardy road and risk breaking down on our own
  • Turn back and take the 2-hour detour although we were only 15 minutes away from the destination (according to the SatNav)
  • Remain with the other two cars and seek help to climb to the top of the hill and down to our destination.

We chose the latter and remained together, with our car at the back. As the front car called mountain rescue for help, we thought in the meantime it will be a good idea to try out and fit our never-used tyre grips probably bought from Amazon. It was dark, extremely windy, and the only source of light was from the headlights and interior light. I could’ve brought out the torch that I packed but that would mean unloading the roof box which was something we could not justify doing. My Dad went out one side, my Mum in the other, as I felt the chill from the open door to the back seat where I sat. These tyre grips are fitted to the front two tyres and once fitted, we started the engine and slowly went forward. We ground to another halt as a screeching noise was heard from the front right tyre. The tyre grips ripped apart and this attempt at option 1 as we waited for help has definitely failed. There were no other options other than to sit and wait until help arrived.

An hour or so later, a large vehicle zoomed past us on our right-hand side to the car in front. Help finally arrived. I couldn’t see from the back seat what the person was doing to help the car in front but within the next 10 minutes the rescue vehicle towed the vehicle to the top of the hill and came back down and did the same to the second vehicle. Once the second vehicle got towed, we were on our own again, stuck in a blizzard in the heart of the Cairngorm Mountains.

The rescue vehicle came back eventually and asked for a tow bar that is fitted to the car. My Dad was unaware if he had one as he never used one before. So, the mountain rescue man got out his phone, entered the model of the car to see where the tow bracket can be found. Both my Dad and the mountain rescue man went to the boot where my dog was sat and they had to access the compartment underneath the boot floor to get to the tow bracket. That meant moving the dog to the side of the boot and upon doing so, the bag full of groceries we bought in Falkirk split and all of the food went everywhere which included scotch eggs and squashed tarts. This was left for my dog to eat up in the process of getting the car moving so this was a pretty funny moment. Once the mountain rescue man obtained the tow bracket, he drilled it to the front of the car and we were now ready to be towed to the top of the hill.

My Dad went back into the car, turned on the ignition and off we went as we were being towed by the rescue vehicle. When we got the top, the mountain rescue man unattached the tow bracket and advised my Dad to put it in the glove box so that he knows where it is next time. We then had to get down of the hill and on towards Braemar and this was an easier task as the roads were now clear and well-gritted. It was very weird only having that section of the A93 being fully snowed in but we finally go to the cottage without any further delays.

The rest of my trip to Scotland went pretty well from there. We spent 2 days skiing (yes, you can ski in Scotland!) and 4 days hill walking around the Braemar area. We were planning to ski more but unfortunately, the ski centre ran out of snow. We did not mind though as it was predicted to become warmer and the hill walking was rather nice anyway.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

-RGS

Note: I’m still not used to posting on WordPress and when using my phone to create this post, I don’t think it published successfully as its published date was 6 days ago when I created the post. So I have reposted this and I apologise if you get another notification on it.

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