When it comes to sizzling-hot summers and hosepipe bans, Scotland is not usually the country that comes to mind.

But Scots have enjoyed a few, joyous summers without the need for brollies and cagoules - and even enjoyed some rare spells of sunshine that lasted so long water restrictions were put in place.

Take 1976, for example - a summer etched in the memories of many Scots, not just because the Wurzels’ topped the charts.

It was the year it was so hot the tarmac melted on Scotland’s roads and a hosepipe ban was put in place in parts of the country.


The summer of 1976 was the warmest in Scotland for more than a century, with temperatures reaching 29.5C at their peak, and one of only a handful of times when water restrictions were put in place north of the border.

While England and Wales suffered badly from drought that year, with widespread water rationing and the National Water Council advising people to only take a bath if necessary, most Scots escaped any such restrictions.

A hosepipe ban was put in place in the then Grampian region, which covered Aberdeenshire and Moray, but reservoirs were generally well filled because - as is often the case - the country had experienced steady rainfall in the spring and early summer.

There were large forest fires, in particular at Carrbridge near Aviemore, and the tar of the A9 between Perth and Inverness began to melt - prompting snowploughs to take to the roads in mid-July to spray sand onto the hot tarmac.

Many will also remember the swarms of ladybirds that infested towns and cities across Scotland that year, as well as the hikes in the price of salad items due to the heat - the Herald reported that tomatoes had increased by 10p per pound.

But while 1976 is the summer that sticks in people’s minds, Scotland has in fact experienced a drier one since then - in 1995.


As Scots listened to number ones from Robson and Jerome and the Outhere Brothers and watched Mel Gibson shout “freedom” in the cinemas, The Herald reported that teams of “water-spies” were out enforcing a hosepipe ban in the Highlands.

With just 141.6mm of rain falling that summer, the ban was put in place in the mid-Ross-shire area, and the then Highland region’s water authority warned it would not hesitate to prosecute persistent offenders.

Some households in the area got no water at all at times and the authority had to drive in tanker loads of water to fill up their tanks.

At the time, water director Jim Johnstone said: ‘’My staff will be closely monitoring the situation and anyone found using a hosepipe in contravention of the ban will receive a letter.

“If they are caught for a second time, then we will report them to the procurator-fiscal for action.’’

Residents were told to use watering cans in their gardens instead, while motorists were encouraged to clean their cars using a bucket and sponge.

According to Scottish Water, which only came into being in 2002, water restrictions were also put in place in 1984 when a further long spell of warm weather gripped the country.

However, in more recent times, heatwaves have not caused much disruption for Scots.

The Met Office reports that the country enjoyed long spells of sunshine and high temperatures in 2006, which saw a new Scottish temperature record set at 29.8C in Dyce in Aberdeen, and 2013, but there were no restrictions put in place.

A year later, in 2014, a small group of Scots suffered a problem with their water supply, but it was not warm weather that caused it this time - it was the ice bucket challenge.

The craze became so popular with residents on the Hebridean isle of Colonsay that their water supply shut down.

Scottish Water had to make emergency supplies available to residents until it could be restored.


The recent spell of good weather has surpassed all other Scottish summers in terms of temperature, with the Met Office reporting that the mercury hit a provisional all-time high in Scotland as it reached 33.2C in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, on Thursday.

Wildefires have broken out in parts of the country, while lochs are losing water, including Loch Glascarnoch which has dried out in parts usually metres deep.

The longevity of the sunshine has also led some forecasters to draw comparisons with the summer of 1976, as it shows no signs of ending soon.

In response, Scottish Water yesterday issued guidelines on using water wisely, including asking Scots to take shorter showers and refrain from using hosepipes.

So, who knows? In years to come on a grey July day, we might all be reminiscing about the great summer of 2018.