We take to the wettest place in the United Kingdom, discovering some of the best roads in Europe.
Dalness is so remote, even the man from the mountain search and rescue squad hasn’t heard of it. “Dalness? Where’s that?” Note to self: don’t get lost in Dalness. It’s not listed on our sat nav system either. So, earlier this morning we entered the exact GPS co-ordinates for Dalness, before doing the only sane thing any self-respecting petrolhead should do with a car and a handful of days: tighten scarf and drive to the glorious Scottish Highlands.
Driving the Deluge
According to the UK’s Met Office, Dalness is the wettest location in the UK. It ‘enjoys’ an average annual rainfall of 3.3 metres. Fortunately, it also sits in the middle of some of the most spectacular Highland scenery you’ll find.
The roads aren’t too shabby either - great swathes of asphalt that sweep majestically along valley floors and slice into the sides of humbling mountain ranges. The roads and eco-system of the Scottish Highlands are one of the best locations open to Europe’s driving public 24/7, 365 days a year.
When we eventually do find it, the first question is who measures the rainfall in Dalness? Bar a herd of inquisitive deer, we don’t see a soul. A map of the surrounding area shows Dalness as falling within the southwestern boundary of the National Trust for Scotland’s 5,800-hectare Glencoe and Dalness Range.
Dalness lies only a few miles west of the A82, between Fort William and Crianlarich. It’s signposted toward Glen Etive and the unmarked road that winds its way there races the River Etive, which traces the valley floor. The burnt orange heather that gives the surrounding scenery its distinctive hue is getting a good watering. Water pours continuously from the skies and cascades off the hillsides. Rivers rage and lochs lap high against the shore while rain is being driven horizontally by vicious winds.
Road to Nowhere
Even the bad weather can’t bring us down; the empty roads are ours. The A82 is exactly the sort of road a car needs to stretch its legs. Fast, well sighted and blessed with a great variety in altitude changes, it gives you a safe environment in which to enjoy your driving.
There’s no shopping or traffic here, though. It’s hard to believe how sparsely populated the Highlands are. Having these roads and the surrounding scenery to yourself makes the region one of Europe’s hidden gems for driving enthusiasts.
Gauging Shell V-Power Nitro+
A word of warning, though. Keep a watchful eye on the fuel gauge. Glasgow or Fort William are the nearest pitstop locations, so if you’re visiting, be sure to fill up with our best performance fuel, Shell V-Power Nitro+ in Glasgow before venturing further north.
By the time we require more fuel, the woman behind the counter of the petrol station asks where we’re headed. “Dalness?” she asks. “Never heard of it.” When I tell her it’s the wettest place in the UK, Scottish pride gets the better of her. “That’s not right! Fort William is. They measure the rain in millimetres elsewhere; here, we measure it in feet!”
We stop at the Kingshouse, an old fort with smouldering coal fires and walls that could tell stories to send shivers down your spine. The scones could feed an army, but we’re the only visitors. It’s a reminder of how good timing – late autumn or early spring – allows you to indulge your passion for driving on some of Europe’s most thrilling roads.
Time for one more blast. Who cares if there’s a storm brewing on the horizon?
Fill-up with Shell V-Power Nitro+ for your next drive off the beaten track which is designed to defend against gunk and corrosion.*
*Actual benefits may vary according to vehicle, age of vehicle, driving conditions and driving style.