Matt recalls the best bits from the 2018 Tartan Florio, our tour of the best roads and venues in Scotland.
Written by: Matt Parker
I had been looking forward to the 2018 Tartan Florio ever since the day I came back down to Earth and returned home after last year’s tour. The roads, scenery, driving, cars and people had made for an unforgettable week.
Could this year live up to my memories? With the list of cars we had signed up and the work the team had put in to somehow improve upon previous years, it’s no surprise that it surpassed them. I’m going to touch on my highlights of the trip and what made this year so special, but mostly I’ll let Riad’s stunning pictures do the talking.
On the first morning, there was that familiar atmosphere of anticipation in the air as the unreal array of cars sat there sparkling clean and their drivers were raring to go. The lineup contained no less than three McLaren 720S and a 12C, two Lamborghini Huracan Performantes and a box-fresh Aventador S Roadster which owner Ray had delivered directly to the start point, never having driven it before. Further down the line was a Ferrari 458, 488, Jaguar XKR-S, Porsche 991.2 C4S and GT3 in matching Lava Orange and the only manual car of the tour, a beautiful V12 Vantage S Roadster.
The award for the most committed is a tossup between Myles, who was pushing and pushing for his new GT2 RS to be delivered in time for the tour, finally collected it the day before and drove it up and Damian, who drove his 360 Challenge Stradale over 450 miles just to get to the start point – we couldn’t wait to hear the noise of the Strad echoing through the hills!
This year’s route took in more of the NC500 than before, and the experience of hustling the cars along with dramatic mountain ranges on your left and calm waters on your right is truly mesmerising. To quote Nigel in the C4S who kept getting on the radio, “I’ve never seen anything like it!”
Our first stop was the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis. Not ones to settle for looking up from the bottom, we took a cable car (or mountain gondola as they call them) 650 metres up the mountain for a lunch stop with views like you wouldn’t believe! After flying past all the scenery in the cars, the 15 minute ride up and down the mountain was a nice sedate opportunity to soak in our surroundings before picking up the pace and the noise on the road once again.
We were even blessed with the weather for almost the entirety of the tour, apart from the second morning when things turned decidedly Scottish. The ladies decided to take a break from holding on in the passenger seat and took themselves off to walk several miles in the surroundings of The Torridon, our exclusive base for the first two nights, while we went for a drive over Applecross, the highest road in the UK. Turns out the highest road in the UK is rather interesting when the weather turns Scottish, if your idea of interesting is barely being able to see the end of your bonnet! We all made it down the other side and, while we missed the breath-taking views masked by the fog, it was certainly memorable.
A new stop for us this year was the Kylesku bridge which curves its way across Loch a’ Chàirn Bhàin (thankfully I don’t have to pronounce that to write an article!). It’s an impressive scene on its own, but park fifteen supercars along it and suddenly you have the world’s most picturesque starting grid, ready to be heard for miles around.
One venue which has set itself in Tartan Florio stone over the last few years is Ackergill Tower, aka our very own exclusive castle for the night! Arriving here has a real sense of occasion and everyone’s spirits were high as the cars were left with Reep Group for a much needed spruce up while we spruced ourselves up for the grand dinner. The steak was so good that Adam, Riad and myself ordered a second one to put us on until dessert!
After dinner came the really memorable part, a walk down to the beach for a bonfire accompanied by background bagpipes, whisky-strengthened hot chocolate and marshmallows, which I don’t think anyone was brave enough to toast on the fierce fire. SCD member Nigel happens to run Galactic Fireworks and was kind enough to put on a fantastic firework show to complement the fire so a big thank you to him!
I have to mention one road in particular we drove on the last day, Old Military Road. I’d say it was the greatest road I have ever driven and plenty of people agreed. It’s well sighted, winding, undulating and best of all in the UK, smooth! Having Ady’s 720S glued to my bumper all the way only added to the fun. I think that was Riad’s most memorable road too after spending so long in mid-air!
After one final blast with the GT2 RS hunting me down, the tour concluded at another new venue for us, the world-famous Gleneagles. It was the perfect chance to don our robes and unwind in the spa after a rather noisy and fast-paced week taking in the very best of Scotland. For our final meal, Jonty showcased his video for all to relive the week, awards were presented, and laughter was very much of the belly variety as it had been all week.
It really is like coming back down to earth after spending the week on the Tartan Florio – the roads and scenery are the stuff of dreams and the lack of traffic is a breath of fresh air. The icing on the cake was the SCD members who came along with us, every one of them enjoying their cars as they were built to be enjoyed, making new friends and amazing memories along the way.
We were actually going to take a break from the Tartan Florio next year but 2018 was so incredibly well received that a revamped tour is on the cards for next year, so keep an eye out for the announcement!
This has been just a snippet of highlights from the tour as I can’t take up the whole mag, so it’s about time I let you enjoy the photos to see it all for yourself.