/ Midges - Assynt etc...
i've got two weeks in late July/early August and i wanted to have a relaxed walking/coast/mooching trip around Assynt/NW Scotland doing a magic mix of wild camping, bothies and hostels. i might have a couple of days of proper hill walking and get up to the tops, but mostly its going to be gentle walks, lying outside and reading, and just looking at the general gorgeousness.
am i going to be eaten alive, and are there any areas from Oban northwards where i might not get eaten alive?
are the Cairngorms as vunerable to the dreaded beastie?
You are unlikely to return either sane or with as many body parts as you started out with
He is a body part!
Coastal areas can be better, the cairngorms are generally better. It just depends on the weather, some years are better than others. But before now I've driven out and camped on the beach on the East coast.
They can be just as awful in the Cairngorms as anywhere else to be honest...or it might be breezy enough to keep them away. Disappointingly they were out last weekend (on Harris) despite the temperature being a mere 9 degrees. Not particularly ferocious this time though.
You're basically asking 'will it be windy or still late June / early August.' Which is of course impossible to predict.
> They can be just as awful in the Cairngorms as anywhere else to be honest...
Last week there were absolutely none in the Braemar side of the Cairngorms for three days despite some still, damp, overcast conditions. Baffling.
If you're going to Assynt I'd camp at Clach Toll. The campsite is on the beach, more or less, so will get a breeze most of the time. I've camped many times at Achmelvich over the years and only once been bothered but it gets so busy now I can't recommend it.
Not sure what the campsite at Achiltiebuie is like . The old one was very good but never stayed at the new one.
Don't let midges put you off.
Midges can be anywhere in the Highlands.
They don't like bright sunshine (which is fine if the weather is good, but not much use as the sun goes down). They cannot cope with much more than a very gentle breeze but even if it is windy, any area where the air is still will be full of them - so tops and the coast are sometimes the places to go for.
There were some very dry weather in the NW in February/March and some hot dry weather in late April and May. This kept the numbers down (in Gairloch anyway). However, since then it has rained a fair bit so I reckon they will be out in force.
DEET based products are probably the best in keeping them at bay but it has some unfortunate drawbacks - it melts some plastics and I find it stings my eyes and numbs my lips.
Avon Skin so Soft is much more pleasant than the DEET products but it does not, in my experience, last anywhere as long and isn't much good if you are active.
My current favourite is Smidge. I don't think it is quite as good as the DEET products, but it is not far off and it does not have any of the drawbacks.
However, as said elsewhere don't let the midges put you off. They are a price worth paying for visiting the Highlands and they are not lethal - you'll just wish they were.
BTW While breezes and bright sunshine affect midges, clegs however, laugh in the face of a breeze and pour scorn on strong sunshine.
I heard some people recently talking about a camping trip to Skye, I think. What I overheard was: "... the sun set and the midges rose". Brilliant line.
Used to go up to Assynt every year. Like anywhere else as soon as the wind drops they can get really bad. Staying near the coast increases the chances of a breeze to keep them at bay.
Smidge is by far the best midge repellent I have EVER used. It doesn't contain DEET (plastic melting nastiness), smells alright and doesn't feel horrible to put on your skin. Comes in a silver bottle and most outdoor shops stock it. It can be quite pricey but it is well worth it.
Very few on Lismore. The limestone terrain doesn't provide the conditions.
Watch out for ticks as well
After sunset the breeze usually dies down. So the main two midge deterrents disappear. Just in time to be sitting outside your tent cooking.
i'm begining to think that camping on the beach campsites might be the best plan, and taking advantage of any weather windows to go inland. i have also considered binning Assynt and going for the northern/eastern Cairngorms and the coast, but there's a surprising lack of campsites, and if the midges can be just as bad anyway...
my timetable has slipped left - its now the last two weeks of August.
i'm very grateful to everyone who's contributed.
"i have also considered binning Assynt" What!
Please don't, it (and just about anywhere in the NW) is a wonderful place.
Not very eco friendly but how about setting up a big fan to create your won local breeze? Several office type fans in an array might work.
I had my trousers tucked in my socks the last two days in the lakes. I bought some mosquito coils which you light which worked well. Don’t be put off Scotland. Choose you’re site and prepare and you will be fine
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