Midges – how to deal with the Scottish beastie


Talk to any bikepacker, climber or hill walker about Scotland in the summer and it won’t be long before midges enter the conversation.  Tiny though they are, the sheer numbers of them that can swarm around you in seconds can quickly make an idyllic campsite an absolute torment.

Avoidance.  The main season for midges is from mid-May to mid-September, although in some years they can be around either earlier or later so avoid going to Scotland at this time if you can.  Midges are most prominent in the evening and early morning when there is little wind so avoid sheltered camping spots.  Also avoid boggy areas where midges tend to breed and congregate – often easier said than done given the nature of Scottish terrain. Smidge, the suppliers of one of the midge repellents, do publish a midge forecast https://www.smidgeup.com/midge-forecast/ but it’s probably best to view it as a rough indication of what it might be like.

Defend yourself.  The most effective repellents are   Smidge or those that contain DEET – spray onto your clothing as well as yourself.  http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/equipment/travel-equipment/sun-insect-protection  Repellents don’t eliminate midges altogether but they do  keep them at bay although sometimes only hovering a short distance from your head.  A midge hood is an essential – one like this is lightweight and takes up virtually no space http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/lifesystems-mosquito-and-midge-head-net-E7214005   Thin gloves and socks that don’t leave a gap around your ankles are also key parts of protection.

Don’t camp.  It’s always a shame not to camp in Scotland as there are some wonderful places to camp.  But if the midges get too much then you can always escape to hostels.  There are a growing number of independent as well as Scottish YHA hostels. https://www.syha.org.uk/ http://www.hostel-scotland.co.uk/

Don’t forget that time heals so no matter how bad your midge experience  your memories of Scotland always seem to blank out those midge torments!

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