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Snow Gates

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Snow Gates
A9 Dunbeath snow gates - Coppermine - 20301.jpg
Snow Gate near Dunbeath
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Snow Gates are used on parts of the Highway Network where snowfall is likely to block the road in the winter months. They are most common on higher ground, particularly amongst the Scottish Mountains and on the Pennines, however they can also be found in more coastal areas, such as on the A9 near Dunbeath on the Caithness Coast. The same gates can also be used elsewhere, where regular/prolonged road closures are likely from reasons other than heavy snowfall. An example is on the A890 alongside Loch Carron, where gates are installed at either end of a section prone to blockage by rockfall.

Snow gates are predominantly made to the same basic design. The gates themselves are made from metal box section welded into a triangular form, sometimes with cross-bracing. On most roads they are mounted in pairs which meet at the centre line, but those installed on single track roads can be sited singly. They are almost invariably painted in bright orange by Transport Scotland, often with a reflective panel along the top. However other colours are used by other highway authorities, such as Yellow by Aberdeenshire Council. Road Closed Signs (see below) are then mounted on the fronts of the gate.

The gates are normally hung on substantial metal posts, with smaller posts at the far end to secure them shut. They are designed to swing into oncoming traffic, presumably so that if struck they will swing way from the vehicle. This does mean that the signage is facing across the road when the gates are open. Despite the fact that the gates are normally mounted towards the bottom of a hill, they are almost always designed to be used in either direction, so in the unlikely event that the lower ground is covered in snow, whilst the road higher up is open, the gates are still ready to be swung into action!


In addition to the bright paintwork, many of the gates are additionally illuminated by floodlighting, which is designed to make them more obvious in poor conditions. Some gates are also fitted with flashing beacons, or brackets to hold them, to warn approaching motorists. These appear to be small hand-held units similar to those sometimes used on top of cones at roadworks.


The signage mounted on the gates seems to vary a lot, even within the same highway authorities jurisdiction. Noted examples include the following, with or without a 'No Vehicles' regulatory sign.

  • Road Closed Snow (on white or red)
  • Police Notice Road Closed Snow Drifts (on blue)
  • Stop - Police (on round sign)
  • Stop - Police (on round sign) Road Closed (on red)


In Scotland, the legislation permitting the use of snow gates is the s.33 Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 which states that:

Gates (hereafter in this section referred to as “snow gates”) may be provided and maintained by the roads authority for the purpose of temporarily closing a road to vehicular traffic on any occasion when snow is rendering or has rendered that road unsafe for such traffic; and where in the opinion of a constable such an occasion has arisen as respects a road he (or, where the constable is a chief constable, a person acting on his behalf) may, until the road is once again safe for vehicular traffic, close and secure any snow gate on the road against all such traffic except that engaged in the provision or restoration of essential services.

See Also: Flood Gates

Snow Gates
Related Pictures
View gallery (20)
A9 Dunbeath snow gates - Coppermine - 20300.jpgHighland - The A9 - Geograph - 5012422.jpgAonach Dubh and snow gates seen from outside the Clachaig - Geograph - 4324591.jpgEntry to Braemar from the south - Geograph - 1559445.jpgCameras and snow gates on A68 - Geograph - 4992937.jpg
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