A snowy drive in the SCOTTISH Borders

4y ago

I do not remember anything about the 8th of December 2014 until the point I turned off the A701 at Tweedsmuir and started ascending the well-sighted, single track road to Talla Reservoir. My girlfriend, now wife, was sitting to my left in what I can only imagine I pitched as a leisurely drive to a beautiful countryside location. Very romantic.

For whatever reason, the Scottish Borders is significantly wetter than the central belt and this Monday morning was no different. A mixture of sleet and snow was falling from the grey sky creating a gloomy but atmospheric view through the windscreen. 

The windscreen belonged to my R56 Mini Cooper S. I always enjoyed driving the Mini in the rain as its playful chassis was permanently willing to be provoked. Having said that, rain and slushy snow aren't quite the same thing so it was with some trepidation that we set off along the twisting lane.  The road climbs to Talla, twists and undulates its way to Megget Reservoir before dropping down to St Mary's Loch 12 miles later.

Never before had I been so busy behind the wheel at 20mph nor had so much fun travelling so slowly.

Ross Jamison

Though I set off gingerly the Mini communicated grip and slip so accurately that it felt quite natural to push on. My wife has always been a brilliant passenger and her initial concern soon turned into heavy giggling and laughter. Never before had I been so busy behind the wheel at 20mph nor had so much fun travelling so slowly. I've been back to Talla and Megget on better days in 'better' cars but as speeds rise to match the conditions, some of the magic disappears.

The road surface is rough, potholed and not shy of a cattle grid so anything over 20mph feels a little ragged. It’s also narrow and anything larger than a Mini leaves little wiggle room. The December trip was one of those moments where car, weather and location combine to create a fantastic experience that cannot be easily replicated. 

Though I didn't think of it at the time I now like to imagine our very low speed blast across the reservoirs was an appropriate tribute to Mini’s 1964 Mote Carlo Rally win, 50 years on from the feat.

The bright red #37 Cooper S driven by Paddy Hopkirk and co-driver Henry Liddon was a world away from my own ’07 reg grey-black version but I struggle to think we had any less fun than the British pairing.

Just as I don't remember anything before I hit Tweedsmuir that Monday, I remember absolutely nothing after popping out at St Mary's Loch with a massive smile on my face and a very dirty car!

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