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The High Road


At five o'clock on Monday evening the first drops of rain began to fall and the caravan was absorbed by a lolling pother of commuter traffic oozing out of Govan towards the Erskine Bridge.


The growing tickle of elation that we felt at the prospect of fresh air, open space and fast roads was clearly not shared by our fellow road users. For whom, amazing as it may seem, the sight of ten young turks in sports cars barking and backfiring as they jostled for position in the queue failed to lift their spirits as they damply crawled home.

No matter. As the road began to open up the cool clarity that comes from being behind the wheel of a fine and powerful automobile had begun to dominate. By the time we hit a sylvan ribbon of road along the banks of Loch Lomond a collective giddiness enveloped us. Cars that had hitherto skulked in the shadows of their more ebullient siblings emerged in the humid evening to throw down moves by turn balletic and bolshy.

The savage potency of a V8 engine is one thing, imbued as it is with its own dark beauty but the plucky stand-up-and-be-counted composure of the Golf GTI as it popped out and bustled its way to the top of the pack within a series of narrow interlinking s-bends evoked a poetry as heady as Robert Burns.

This was what it was all about – fifteen friends, out in the wilds, exercising the right foot with nostrils flared.

Two large cans of Red Bull

The approach to Ranoch Mor corkscrews up the side of a gorse and heather covered rise punctuated with granite monoliths. Wisps of hill-fog tease themselves around the shoulders of brackish pools – a land of things that wail and gnash in the moonlight. And through the stair-rod downpour we pushed on, the end in sight but weary now – hallucinating, nod-off-in-the-middle-of-a-corner weary. Two large cans of Red Bull, swallowed in rapid succession and a prayer.

Just twenty or so miles to the ferry at Corran and short journey across the sea loch to the sanctuary of Ardgour House, food and a bed.

But that was twenty miles away

…and before it perhaps fifteen minutes of intense, visceral pleasure as we gunned the cars home down one of the world’s greatest roads. The silvered edge of the caffeine heightened by the tunneling effect of the rain as we pointed down a straight disappearing between two granite pyramids.

And after, the weaving, frenzied downhill through the glen, banshee engine braking into ninety degree corners before dropping the hammer and barrelling out the other side. All the time thinking of rest but wishing the moment could spool continuously on until some indeterminate point way, way in the future.

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How we're responding to COVID-19.

At XL we've introduced several measures to ensure the safety of our customers and staff. Our head office is open for drop-offs and collections and all our vehicles are fully valeted and sterilised. Collections and drop-off staff all have full PPE including face masks, sanitising spray and hand cleaning fluid.

Our procedures for customers collecting vehicles:
  • New vehicles will be cleaned, sanitised and disinfected by our staff member, who will then place the keys on the windscreen and then go 2 metres away whilst the client goes to the vehicle to inspect it. Once our customer has checked and is happy with the vehicle a copy of the inspection report is emailed straight to them.
  • The handover is complete, and no contact is made between the customer and staff member. Spare gloves and sanitising wipes are available for our customers to use should they be required.
Our procedures for customers returning vehicles:
  • When a customer arrives with the vehicle our staff member will direct you to park the vehicle in a dedicated parking area and ask you to leave the vehicle, locking it and placing the keys on the windscreen. Once our customer has done this and is the required 2 metres away our staff member will approach the vehicle to disperse the sanitising/disinfecting fluid on the keys unlock and enter the vehicle sanitising the dashboard, steering wheel, handbrake, door and window controls, seat adjustment controls. Our staff member will then perform the initial visual checks inside the vehicle, such as mileage, servicing and fuel levels. A full external check of the vehicle is performed, along with tyres, under to bonnet and boot. Any new damage is noted. Once the inspection is complete a copy of the inspection will be emailed straight to the client.

Keep on keeping on... and stay safe!