Winter Gritting Experts

Britain's Snowiest And Coldest

August 10, 2019

GRITIT winter operatives cover the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, including some of the snowiest and coldest roads and places to be found on our islands.

A divided nation

In terms of snow and ice, there's a clear divide across the UK.

The southwest is an exceedingly mild region compared to Scotland, and overall there's a northeast/southwest divide, with Scotland and England's mountainous areas leagues ahead of the rest of the country in terms of annual snowfall.

Snow in the southwest

The southwest receives up to 15 days per year of snow lying, and from 1979 to 2000 on average, lowland areas did not record any lying snow in one out of every three years.

Many coastal areas in the southwest have less than five days of falling snow, and in a tough year, the highest and most exposed inland extremities such as Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor may have 25 days of falling snow.

The number of days of snowfall and snow settling increases with altitude: per approximately every 100 m (330 ft) increase in altitude, the number of days of snow falling increases by five days.

southwest snow

Ironically, although the southwest has the mildest weather in the British Isles, it has been affected by some of the most severe blizzards... because it is also Britain's windiest region.

In February 1978, 20 inches of snow accumulated in inland Devon and in January 1982, snow drifts were 3 ft 3 in deep around the Bristol area.

Snow in Scotland

In contrast, Scotland takes the crown as Britain's snowiest and iciest area.

That said, given its northerly latitude it is warmer than areas in the USA or Europe on similar latitudes, for example Labrador in Canada where the sea freezes over in winter or Fort McMurray, Canada, where −35 °C (−31 °F) is not uncommon during winter.

scotland snow

Statistically, the snowiest place in the UK is the Cairngorms in in Scotland, with 76+ days of snow or sleet falling on average; the darkest area on the map above.

The Cairngorms is an extreme environment in winter, and temperatures regularly drop to -10 degrees or lower and stay there for days on end.

Back in the day, when the morning temperature was -15 degrees, Rannoch School, perhaps Britain's most desolate school, would be allowed to stay in bed for the day.

Snowfall in the Cairngorms will typically linger for several weeks, and during the harsh winter of 2010-11, the entire plateau stayed covered in snow from November to April.

Britain's toughest road in winter?

Unsurprisingly, this accolade falls to the Cairngorms as well - the Cairnwell Pass which leads to the Glenshee Ski Centre.

The Cairnwell Pass sits on the A93 between Glenshee in Perthshire and Braemar, Aberdeenshire, is the highest main road in the UK and is still scars the conscience as a grim, cold, and momentously tortuously slow nail-biting drive to reach Glenshee back in the late 70s.

GRITIT snow clearance in Scotland

GRITIT has 100s of city, town, village and rural operators throughout Scotland, with an enormous fleet and regional depot based centrally in Edinburgh.

As a snow clearance operator, we are the best placed national company in Scotland, with the ability to reach any part of the mainland within one hour of snow falling, however remote.

Our gritting operatives in Scotland take an immense amount of professional pride in their work, day or night, 24/7, and welcome any challenge to have us prove to you that we'll beat your existing service.


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