Read the fantastic story of the Scots to the Arctic Adventure in Stephen’s own words!
“Since 2018 a group of car enthusiasts have been doing events and raising money for Prostate Scotland, starting with the Kilts to Carlo event where we entered the Monte Carlo Classique Rally, and after a hiatus for the pandemic, did Lands End to John O’Groats, travelling the length of Britain in a car that, including fuel could cost no more than £600.
Setting the challenge
Alan, Stephen and Archie were looking for our next challenge we came across a YouTube channel of a chap who had driven his 80’s Rolls Royce to the Arctic Circle. Alan had just bought a lovely clean Volvo 240 with just under 100,000 miles on the clock about 18 months ago so it kind of started from there.
We had a Scandinavian car, a bit of an idea for inspiration and then we needed to come up with a name, being from just outside of Dundee in Scotland (the city of Discovery, the ship that Captain Robert Scott sailed to the South Pole in 1901-04). We decided that Scots to the Arctic would be a bit of a play on the Scot of the Antarctic that our nearest city is famous for.
We decided that due to our heritage and the interest we had generated doing the Monte Carlo in kilts, we would also be travelling to the frozen north wearing our national dress.
Selecting the Supercar!
The car is a Volvo a 240, 5 speed manual, estate which was first registered on the 21May 1993. We were going to be passing through Gothenburg in Sweden where the car was manufactured almost exactly 30 years from the date of registration.
We contacted the Volvo museum in Gothenburg , and we were treated to a VIP tour from both Ulrika, the Marketing & Communications Manager for Volvo Museum and Markus, who has one of the best jobs, having worked with the cars in the museum for a long time, and is responsible for taking any of the cars out, being a regular with the King of Sweden, attending classic rallies in his various Volvos and has even appeared in films along with the Volvos. Alan was in his element with all the Volvos and Archie, who served his time as a truck mechanic, could appreciate the commercial section of the museum.
The Flying Scots set off!
With the odometer reading 100944 miles, we set off from Angus on the east coast of Scotland early (Archie early – so 3am!) on Friday 19th May and drove down to Dover to get the 3 pm ferry across to Calais in France. P & O Ferries had upgraded us to the Club lounge on the ferry, so we were able to get fed and watered as we crossed the channel.
We were not sure where we were going to stay each night as we were not 100% sure on the distances we would be able to travel, particularly with the traffic in the more populated areas. We ended up at a campsite in France near the Belgium border for the first night as we had not realised that it was a public holiday weekend in Belgium and almost every AirB&B that we looked at was busy.
Getting into gear
Prior to setting off we had done some preventative maintenance. We had replaced brake pads front and back and new disks on the front. We had put on a new timing belt and tensioner and 3 fan belts, as well as replacing the distributer cap, rotor arm, spark plugs and leads. We had also done a regular service with new oil fuel and air filters, and had changed both the engine and Diff oil. We changed both the brake fluid and power steering fluid. The car had a full check over on the ramp and one wheel bearing was tightened.
As we travelled down through Scotland and England we heard a bit of a rumble, so we had a quick look at the front drivers side wheel bearing and nipped it up one eighth of a turn. We never had any more noise from it for the rest of the trip.
Driving to Denmark
The second day we travelled from France through Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and into Denmark. Setting our destination as a little town of Heljs as it was in the middle of Denmark and worked in with the timing on the sat nav – it really is amazing how flat the north of Europe is. For three blokes that think in miles, having kilometres on the road signs is a novelty as you appear to be travelling a lot faster as 100km takes the same time as it would for 60 miles.
We stayed at a lovely AirB&B, with an very in love old couple who let us have a late entry into the property.
We had been hearing a bit of a strange noise from the engine which disappeared when you pressed in the clutch so we thought we had the start of a worn thrust bearing. However on the morning of the third day, before we left Denmark, we were checking over the belts and the fluids when the power steering pump moved ever so slightly. The top bolt was just a little bit loose so a quick tighten and back into the car and the noise had stopped! Alan also took the opportunity to check the tyre pressures – 29 psi in the front and 38 psi in the fully loaded rear.
Steering on to Sweden
We had arranged to be in Gothenburg for the museum opening, so we found an AirB&B fifteen minutes from the Volvo Museum, and headed across to Malmo and then into Copenhagen in Sweden, across the Øresund Bridge – a 16 km direct link between Denmark and Sweden.
It was on Stephen’s bucket list to travel across this bridge as it is so dramatic, so we were able to tick that off on the way. We had a lovely walk in the sunshine up to the restaurant and it was about this time that we had decided that we had brought lots of clothes for the destination, however most of the journey in the north of Europe was in very pleasant spring weather. We don’t AC fitted as standard in cars of this age.
To Hell and back…
Once we had finished in the museum we started to head north through Sweden and into Norway stopping just short of Trondheim in another lovely AirB&B. Then it was on to the Arctic Circle Centre on Day 5. Thankfully due to the long hours of daylight in the north of Norway the Arctic Circle Centre (our destination) was open until 7pm. We arrived just after 5pm after some long hours in ever more rugged scenery, as we started to see snow on the hills and the roads coming down to 2 lane highway. Norway has some of the most expensive toll roads in Europe so trying to work out how much it was going to be was a bit of a headache. We passed the village of Hell on the way – so good we had to stop for a photo. So we can literally say we have been to Hell and back!
Archie was given the number of a Scottish guy that he knew at school who gave us this advice: when you are travelling back, get into Sweden as soon as possible to avoid toll roads!
Arriving at the Arctic Circle
We had let the Arctic Circle Centre know what our plans were and as we arrived in our kilts the staff greeted us with high fives, congratulations and the warmest welcome. We were treated like royalty and were told that we were guests and our money was no good. After a coffee and some traditional waffles we headed south to a very traditional Norwegian Hut where we stayed the night – it was amazing to see the river running so clear with obvious snow melt.
Zipping back to Sweden
Taking the advice of the chap Archie had spoken to on the phone, we headed over towards northern Sweden. We headed across one of the passes which took us up past lakes that were still mostly frozen and where snow chains are compulsory to be carried throughout the winter months. We then travelled south, down at least 100km of unpaved roads towards Uppsala, just north of Stockholm. We stayed in a basement AirB&B of a young couple and their children, and refreshed, decided that we would aim for Denmark on the next day.
Having had such a nice reception from the couple that we had stayed with in Heljs we contacted them and were able to secure digs again. When we arrived they had put on a bit of a BBQ for us and we spent the evening chatting with them about life before heading to bed.
A U Turn through Europe!
The next day we retraced our steps though the traffic in Hamburg in Germany and through the Netherlands. We stopped in Breda in the Netherlands as Belgium was having another public holiday. We were able to finish a little bit earlier that day and get an evening where we could go out and have a nice dinner and a couple of beers.
Next morning it was just over three hours to Calais and over on the boat to Dover arriving just after lunch time back in the UK. We set off north with the intention of stopping about Manchester if we were all too tired to continue – however the normal where are we going to aim for tonight chat didn’t really happen! After getting some sleep in the back of the car we all decided we would just punch on for home, arriving to a very warm welcome from Archie’s family at about 11pm.
The Arctic Adventurers arrive home!
We had made it to the Arctic and back in nine days, travelling 5,147 miles (8,283 km) in nine countries, which we travelled through twice. The car made it all the way, with only two interventions. We never had to top up the oil or the water and the odometer now is reading 106,091. Looking at our statistics, we were averaging about 70 mph on the motorway and had an average fuel consumption of about 33 mpg, with it reaching as high as 35 at some points.
It was a great adventure with us arriving home having not fallen out, and we have had pledged not far off £5,000 for our chosen charity, Prostate Scotland.
We have started to mull over where we go next – and in what…”
“You can see our Facebook updates here: Scots to the Arctic”
Back to Thank you Scots to the Arctic!