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Bikepacking Scotland in late August and early September, a good idea?

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WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Bikepacking Scotland in late August and early September, a good idea?

Hi fellow warmshowers,

My girlfriend and I want to travel across Scotland this year between August and September. We have never been in this country so we don't really no anything. We read a lot of stuff but we think that the people living there are more likely to tell us the good informations.

Here are a few questions:

Is the weather so rainy along all the year, or is summer more sunny or at least less rainy?

Can we do some wild camping or is it forbidden?

We want to see all the backcountry, but we only have 14 days so what are the best places to see?

Does anyone has already done this and have good tipps to give us?

We want to go to the north either from Glasgow or Edinburgh, can we take a ferry back to Edinburgh? Or is it better to do a loop or to go from A to B and coming back by train/boat or whatever?

These are a few questions we have, thanks for taking some time to read them and answer them when you can.

We are a Swiss couple living in Lausanne,, and our couch is still free if you ride in this area!

See you guys and enjoy your today's ride!

François and Marjorie

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Feedback scott tour

Hi François and Marjorie.
I don't live in scotland, but last spring we did a Scottish grand tour and I can tell you, what a great idea you have here :)

Our tour was from Glasgow Edinburgh through Ben Nevis, Isle of Sky, Harris Lewis, back to Mainland, Durness, John O'Groats, Inverness, Dundee and Edinburgh. It took us about 16 days if I remember well so you may do shorter.

My feedback is : what an amazing trip ! Don't hesitate and go.

About your questions : we never had any problem for camping, we even set a fire every night and no problem there neither. I think the law on camping in Scotland is something like "it is authorized everywhere unless it is forbidden" a bit different from other countries where it forbidden everywhere unless it is authorized....
You will find a lot of streams, ponds and lochs so consider taking a biodegradable soap to wash yourself and your clothes and you won't have to go to a camping at all.

About the weather.... well, all Scottish people told us how lucky we were at that time because the weather was sooooooo good, really. So I think it depends on your luck, but August is likely to be a bit more rainy.
Do not underestimate the midges, the is a real pain, as soon as you stop they are on you, but the good point is, when you are biking, they can't reach you... So consider buying a head net and thin gloves before leaving and set a fire when you camp. Really, the smoke keeps them away and you can eat rather away from them. This discover really helped us.
While setting a fire in Scotland is not always an easy task when it has rain all day, you're not here to be warm, only to make some smoke, so something that is hot enough to make some smoke will be ok, no need to set a big brazier everyday. You can also buy Smidge lotion but its not that much a good reppelant.
Last but not least buy a tick extractor. I don't know exactly where I got bitten, but one day I figured out I had 25 ticks all over my body.... my friend had something like 20 of them.

If you want my opinion about the tour, we decided to make the coastal tour. If that were to be made again I would rather go across the country away from the see a little.
My ideal tour would be :
Edimbourgh/
Dundee/
Aviemore (stop at some distillery in the Cairngorms) and go through the pass of Glenshee, which is the highest of Scotland (if you like landmarks :))/
Inverness/
Unapool (I dont know the part Inverness-Unapool....)/
Ullapool/
Ferry to Stornoway (Maybe the 780 bike route there, I don't know if it is worthy)/
Then ferry to Skye, we spent 2 days there but we should have spend more... Dont miss the nice pub in Sligachan.
It might be a good idea to miss the Fort William-Oban part by going straight from Skye to Oban but do not miss the "Local Shellfish" restaurant in Oban, best ad cheapest crab sandwiches ever and just in front of the fishing boats... Really I'm not kidding it was a great experience !
Then from Oban you can go to Glasgow Through the loch lommond and reach Edinburgh by train or even take your plane from Glasgow if possible.

In this ideal tour, the northern part is missing, indeed it is really windy and the northern road is a bit monotonous but the road form Ullapool to Durness is pretty as well, so you can ride this one an miss the outer Hebrides, but I kind of loved the "icelandic" atmosphere in these islands...
About the North east.... its really full of peat (ie, windy, monotonous and impossible to camp because soaked....), so missing Johno O'Groats and the Puffins might be a good idea in my opinion.

We had the michelin scotland country map which i advise to you, we compared with other cyclos who had bought other maps, ours seemed better.

Its up to you now and you will love it, no doubt !!!! Let us know !

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Beware the dreaded midges

Living in Northern England and having spent a lot of time in Scotland I would concur with everything Antoine has said.

Do not under estimate the midges they can drive you crazy, camping somewhere with a bit of wind helps to keep them at down but a campsite which is windy in the evening may be calm, quiet and a midge heaven in the morning! Avon ~cosmetics sell a skin lotion called Skin so Soft and it seems to keep the blighters at bay. They even sell it in some of the shops up there.

If time is limited then west is best. Anywhere on the west coast or out on the islands - more chance of it being windy too. I would go to and from Glasgow and hit Loch Lomond or the Isle of Arran and just head north. Edinburgh is a lovely city and well worth a visit but the countryside in the east of Scotland is far less interesting than the west and even Cairngorm is less rugged and less dramatic than the mountains of the west.

We hope you have a great ride and the weather is kind to you.

Geoff

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