What time of year is it best to climb on the west coast of Scotland?
April can be good but if the winter is late, it can still be cold and wet.
May is best.
June is good but some midges are starting to make themselves known.
July and August can be great but it's a bit wetter and you need to keep a keen eye on the wind direction and strength (you want exposed crags) or you will get eaten.
September can be good. Fewer midges but wetter again.
October can be acceptable on a good year but usually it's cold and rainy. No midges ususally.
...and October, November, December, January, February and March and sometimes April if you want to go mixed climbing. So basically all year round.
Somewhat stating the obvious, Scotland is best when the weather is nice and there aren't many midges... Given that both these factors (especially the former) are pretty variable, if you are lucky enough to have a bit of flexibility it really pays to be opportunistic and reactive!
Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to head north based on a good medium term forecast (but great if you can!) However, one of the great advantages of climbing in Scotland is that you have the choice of seacliffs, valley crags and high mountains, so there's nearly always an option even if it means driving a bit. Also, although you've said "West Coast" bear in mind that especially in the far north it really isn't far from west to east coast (only an hour or so from Ullapool to Inverness), and there's often completely different weather (and midges) prevailing on the other side.
Using the above philosophy (and being lucky enough to be van-based) we've enjoyed some fabulous midge-free Scottish trips in the last few years:
- August 2017 East Coast Inverness to JO'G
- May 2018 Central Highlands
- July 2018 Far north west
- May 2019 Skye to Reiff
Blog posts with photos and beta from a couple of dozen crags here: https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/category/uk/scotland/
A few absolute favourites:
Dominic thanks for your comprehensive answer. Yes I do have a degree of freedom but then there is the issue of finding a partner to climb with the same flex but UKC has provided over the years. I will be van based too so hoping to be able to be able to move with the conditions.
wbo2: I'm hoping for trad sea cliff in the grade range of E1 to E3 I guess. I have a few winter seasons under my belt but I'm getting a bit old/unfit for that so I want to concentrate of trad for the next couple of years. I'm a regular at Swanage but I'm finding that the routes I can get up are running out. My trips to Scotland in winter make me want to go back in the summer for some trad. I am familiar with the midge from climbing in the peaks for 4 years at uni.
> hoping for trad sea cliff in the grade range of E1 to E3 I guess.
In that case you'd have to throw the following couple of "usual suspects" into the mix:
Diabaig (more a cliff by the sea...) https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2019/05/13/torridon-diabaig-and-inveralligin-sea-cliff/
... and a couple of less well known options:
Can't wait to get back up there, hopefully as restrictions ease in the Spring
Early Summer is often better than late Summer so May and June probably but if you need to go later then you should be ok until early September. I wouldn't plan a climbing trip from England to the NW later than that.
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