WINDS of up to 88mph battered parts of Scotland yesterday as the remains of Hurricane Gonzalo caused travel mayhem.
Several major roads and the Skye Bridge were closed, most ferry sailings were cancelled and about 1,300 homes were left without power.
The wrath of the storm was felt UK-wide, including in Kensington in West London where a woman died after being hit by a tree that fell into a road.
Three other women were injured by a fallen tree at Southwick in West Sussex.
The A83 Rest and Be Thankful pass in Argyll was closed after two crashes amid winds gusting up to 88mph. A lorry went off the road into Loch Restil, while a caravan was blown on to its roof. Other roads closed included the A96 between Inverurie and Huntly in Aberdeenshire, because of fallen trees.
The Skye Bridge was shut to all traffic when the wind reached 75mph. The Forth Road Bridge, Dornoch Bridge and Erskine Bridge over the Clyde were closed to high-sided vehicles, while the winds also affected the Tay Road Bridge, Kessock Bridge and Cromarty Bridge.
Caledonian MacBrayne put its entire west coast ferry network on hold, cancelling sailings on 15 routes and suspending those on nine others.
Ferries to Orkney, Shetland and Northern Ireland were also cancelled. The A751 Stranraer bypass was closed and turned into a temporary lorry park for truckers awaiting the resumption of Belfast and Larne sailings from nearby Cairnryan.
A 22-metre tour boat broke free of its moorings in Oban Bay and was swept on to the beach in the gale force winds.
On the railways, a fallen tree near Paisley St James station delayed trains on the Glasgow to Gourock and Wemyss Bay lines.
An engineering train clearing leaves from the track also hit a fallen branch between Arrochar and Tarbet, and Ardlui in Argyll. Engineers cut down two lineside trees as a precaution.
However, air passengers largely escaped the disruption.
ScottishPower said some 700 properties had suffered power cuts for a time, including homes in Stranraer, Dumfries, Girvan, Moffat and Hawick.
A spokesman for SP Energy Networks said: “It has been a busy day. The main weather-related incidents have involved debris blown on to our lines.”
Nearly 600 Scottish Hydro customers were left without electricity, including in Dunblane, Dunoon, Fort William, Wick and the Western Isles. A spokeswoman said it hoped to reconnect everyone by last night.
Winds reached 66mph at Port Ellen in Islay at 10am, 63mph at Salsburgh in North Lanarkshire in the early hours of yesterday morning, and 62mph at Machrihanish in Kintyre at around 5am.
The heaviest rain fell at the Cluanie Inn on the A87 in the Highlands, with 38mm (1.5in) between 1am and 8am.
A Met Office yellow “be aware” warning of strong winds had been extended to cover the whole of Britain and western Northern Ireland yesterday.
A Met Office spokesman said: “A deep depression is affecting the UK, with strong winds in its circulation.”
The forecast for today shows the wind will have eased off. Most parts of Scotland will see a dry and bright start with cloudier conditions in the west. Outbreaks of rain are expected by afternoon in many areas.