Scotland, a walker’s paradise

Majestic Scotland.

Every long distance hiker will find themselves dreaming about this destination. Reasons that make it, as I poetically titled it, a “walker’s paradise” are many, but for me, one stood above all.

wild-camping-scotland

Wild camping.

Walk as long as feet let you and when you spot a view you would love to wake up to, set up the tent, crawl in it and rest. Forget about sitting ashore Loch Ness enjoying the view while eating dinner, though, midges will kill you!

Having seen almost no trash along The Great Glen Way and West Highland Way, I am very pleased to observe that hikers seem to obey “the code”:


The Access Code says:

Access rights extend to wild camping. This type of camping is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. You can camp in this way wherever access rights apply, but help to avoid causing
problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. Take extra care to avoid disturbing deer stalking or grouse shooting. If you wish to camp close to a house or building, seek the owner’s permission. Leave no trace by:

  1. taking away all your litter
  2. removing all traces of your tent pitch and of any open fire (follow the guidance for lighting fires)
  3. not causing any pollution.
http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/Practical-guide/public/camping

Sadly the story changes as you come in the vicinity of larger cities – around southern part of Loch Lomond, for example, trashing seems to be just as popular as on Glasgow streets. No wonder, the destination is a favourite weekend getaway for citizens of Scotland’s largest city.

Loch Lomond.jpg
The view of Loch Lomond from the North

Here you can read about the many walking paths Scotland has to offer:

 

Walks in Scotland, Walk in highlands, GPS Cycle and Walking Routes

Read about The Great Glen Way, The West Highland Way in my future posts. Besides highlights, that hiking in Scotland has many, there are also quite some things that make the walk unpleasant:

Scottish weather

Not such a big problem unless you are on a tight schedule. It is very likely that there will be rain to some extent every day so keep your waterproof poncho close and make sure things in your backpack will stay dry. When walking the section between Kinlochleven and Kings House of West Highland Way in July 2016, it was pouring down the whole day. The wind was blowing so strongly that we seemed to be moving backwards instead of up the mountain. As we reached the hotel in the evening, soaking wet, tired and under no circumstances ready to put up a tent in the middle of the storm, all the rooms were full! I cannot describe the feeling of gratitude I felt when a fellow hiker, Jürgen from Austria, offered to share the room with us! That’s the nice thing about hikers, we are good people!

Anyway, getting dry and clean felt amazing. The bad weather was supposed to improve the following day so we got ready, filled our bellies with the amazing Scottish breakfast Kings House Hotel offers and walked on.

Into another day of rain, wind and cold.

whw.jpg
Please, not again…

To conclude with – never believe the forecast and don’t let rain upset you. At least midges won’t bother you. Which brings me to the 2nd curse of Scotland:

Midges

Not really sure how to write this in a nice way so I won’t bother with wrapping it up: they live in the west (which is where the nice walks are), in warm months (which is when we like to walk and camp), they bite people, it itches like crazy and so far there is no way to completely avoid them. It all comes down to how well your blood tastes to these creatures – some people have absolutely no problems with them and others will walk around with big, bloody, itchy lumps on exposed parts (face, hands, private parts -they get exposed when you go to the loo). I found out the following:

  • They don’t like sunlight
  • They can’t fly well in the wind
  • They can’t fly fast (they won’t be able to keep up with you when you are moving)
  • Repellent “Smidge” keeps them away for a couple of minutes
  • Avon’s Skin so soft keeps them away for a couple of seconds
  • There is an app called “Midge Forecast
  • In Scotland, “Midge Forecast” is much more reliable than “Weather Forecast”

 

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