Nothing prepares you for getting through the winter in a remote location better than previous experience. Surviving winter in remote Scotland frequently puts people off from considering a home in the wilderness. Going into it for the first time means you either adapt very quickly or leave. You become resourceful. Aware and appreciative of the simple things in life, like tucking your base layer in your knickers for draft-free warmth! Spending winter in a remote location certainly makes you more aware of the need to plan everything in advance. An acceptance that each journey may lead to an unexpected adventure is critical.
The winter snow started
The winter only really got going in the highlands during January so it was easy to think surviving winter in remote Scotland wasn’t going to be a challenge. However, the snow started to feature a little more regularly in the weather forecast. However, there was nothing more than a few inches at the most. In mid-January, the estate road was blocked rather unexpectedly. It happened when we’d left for an overnight stay at Meikleour. The opening of the salmon fishing season on the River Tay is not to be missed. Returning the following day, in the afternoon, totally unaware of the snowfall. The contents, including my birthday cake, were moved from the Toyota to the Land Rover. This is a typical move during the winter months. The Land Rover has a bigger road clearance than the Toyota. We set off to the house unaware of the heavy snowfall higher up on the road. It started snowing. The higher we climbed the more snow we saw but the road was passable so we carried on. We were two miles from the house when we came to an abrupt halt in a snow drift.
Surviving winter in remote Scotland became real
The snow had filled in a downhill part of the road. The Land Rover was sitting on top of the snow drift. We were stuck in the snow for 3 hours. However, after a mammoth digging effort by the deerstalker we were free. Three hours is plenty of time to think about surviving winter in remote Scotland. Thoughts explored the discomfort of spending a night in an old Land Rover in a blizzard. We had no phone or radio signal. On a more positive note, it was the eve of my 55th birthday. Another aspect on the plus side, we had cake which had slightly redesigned thanks to snow drift), champagne and pizza. To our great relief, the Land Rover tyres found purchase, and enabled us to turn around. The blizzard winds blew the snow horizontally. We headed back down to lower ground. Determined to seek out warmth, a hot shower, a stiff drink and a bed in the coach-house flat.
Adaptability is key to surviving winter
Getting through the winter months in remote Scotland can be tough but adaptability is key. It is possible to survive the winter months almost stress-free. Simply by accepting each intended journey may result in failure to reach not reaching an intended destination.
The All-Terrain wintery Vehicle
The Argo (All-Terrain Vehicle) is an invaluable mode of transport on a remote estate. It’s a sort of ‘go anywhere’ vehicle. When fitted with tracks, it travels over the deepest of snow with ease. However, it will not guarantee reaching a destination. Low cloud, or fog reduce the visibility to only a few yards. In deep snow the snow poles are buried so all recognition points are lost. This transforms the journey into an adventure. The road route is a mystery, and the location of deep gullies, and river channels become a dangerous guessing game.