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Hello and a question or three

Hello and a question or three

Postby cribbage » Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:01 pm

Hello from the Grand Canyon.
My wife and I were considering hiking the entire Scotland national trail (north bound). We have done several long walks before and are considering this for next challenge.
When is the best month to start?
Is camping in a tent legal?
Any resupply issues?
How much rain should we expect?
Any helpful advice in our planning?
Anything else we should consider?
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Re: Hello and a question or three

Postby abs70 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:55 pm


I could kick off with a few thoughts... I've not done the National Trail but lots of bits of it and a lot of winter trails. So, needless to say, my preferred time of year is Oct to Mar. Purely because of the midges. Midges from the end of April through to September can be more than a pain in the backside.
But that means you have to carry more. Resupply can be a problem at that time of the year as many places shut until the summer season. When I did the Cape Wrath trail in December, I sent packages through to the few hotels I'd be staying at to resupply.
Camping, if you're sensible, is never a problem. And the bothy network is, on occasion, a life saver.
Should you expect rain. Yes. When ever you go. Or snow. It might not, but prepare for it.
Hope those vague and limited thoughts help.
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Re: Hello and a question or three

Postby Arthurs Eat » Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:53 am

My personal experience with midges is they never appear before the end of May and and are gone by mid September unless there is particularly good weather around then. Even between May and September they are mostly inactive due to the fact they cannot fly in anything but the very lightest of winds, they don't seem to like the sun either. The alarm bells start when it is damp, overcast and little in the way of wind.

As long as you are respectful and sensible, camping should not be an issue. Bothies as mentioned, can be useful. See the Mountain Bothies Association website. They can sometimes get crowded so your tent is a backup. Plan for this this and you should not go wrong.

In my opinion April/May are always the best walking months in Scotland. That said we do sometimes get some late snow but as long as you are at lower levels, then it should not be too much of a problem. I have walked several of the national trails at this time of year and would say 90% of the time it has remained dry and often sunny and have ever been bothered by midges. That said said I would not dare leave the house without waterproof jacket and trousers. A pair of gaitors would also be a worthwhile investment. It can also be quite cold particularly at night so you should carry a warm layer too. Remember hat and gloves too!

You are usually fine to drink out of mountain streams or moving water but best treat all water on the way. There is NO shortage of water in Scotland. There are places to pick up food and anything else you need on the way. Just plan for the amount of time between these places (I'm sure you know this but I'll say so anyway).

Keep using this site and when your here just ask anyone you meet on the trail about conditions up ahead. I'm sure you will find we are mostly a very friendly and helpful lot. Good luck and have great visit.


It can rain at
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Re: Hello and a question or three

Postby Sack the Juggler » Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:57 am

cribbage wrote:Hello from the Grand Canyon.
My wife and I were considering hiking the entire Scotland national trail (north bound). We have done several long walks before and are considering this for next challenge.
When is the best month to start?
Is camping in a tent legal?
Any resupply issues?
How much rain should we expect?
Any helpful advice in our planning?
Anything else we should consider?
Hello and welcome to the forum. I think Callum has given a great around answer, so I'll probably echo him.

It sounds like you both know what you are doing in terms of trekking, so I'll keep my thoughts brief.

The main two considerations as to start date are snow or midges. Snow can be an issue through to April or May on the high peaks, but not so much on the earlier parts of the trail, especially before you hit the cape wrath trail (happy to be corrected on this). Midges can be a problem in certain conditions, but smidge seems to work well against them.

Camping is allowed in Scotland, but there are certain restrictions, although as has been said, as long as you are respectful and sensible, there should be no problems with camping.

One thing to note is that the air is humid in Scotland (and the rest of the UK) so condensation can be an issue for tent choice, as can the wind, but there are usually ways around these things if you're set on a particular tent. I'm guessing you mostly use a single skin tent around the Grand Canyon?

From previous comments on the routes along the trail, resupply should be ok, at least until you hit the cape wrath trail section which is quite remote in parts, and I think this is the only section that is unmarked as it passes through some fairly rugged country.

This is probably another point to think about, how to navigate the cape wrath trail as its not marked and its quite rugged, although there are mostly clear trails along the way. There is nothing a map and compass won't rectify. This is probably the most difficult stretch of the whole trail in terms of conditions and re-supply.

Rain can be every day, or not for several days, as can the wind, but if you are prepared for it, its not necessarily a problem. Boggy ground can be a problem so I use long waterproof gaiters for those parts, these also help for river crossings, but you need to beware of streams or rivers in full spate which can happen quite often (see rain above), worst case you can wait it out.

Footwear is probably another one to consider. For large parts of the trail, fell running shoes, or trail shoes, are probably ok, but for other parts (especially the rugged or boggy ground) some prefer boots, and I usually wear goretex boots as my feet don't sweat that much anyway (maybe because I don't push myself too hard :wink: ), and it keeps most of the rain and bog off my feet. Others prefer not to wear goretex boots as they can take a long time to dry out if they do get wet inside.
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Re: Hello and a question or three

Postby cribbage » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:40 pm

Thank you for all the advice!!!!

We had never heard of a midge or a bothy before reading your replies. I have now done some research on the internet (more to do) and basically understand them. These were very helpful learning about. Again thank you. We did 400 miles, in 2013, on the Appalachian Trail and they have shelters that seem similar to Bothies. Although most of theirs are made of wood.

Since posting, more reading and looking at our schedule we were considering a July 10th ish start date.
Other than the midges do you see any other problems with July/August hiking?

Last year we walked about 2,300 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, the rest was closed for fires. During this trail we needed to mail ourselves food on 12 different occasions. Is this advisable for the Cape Wrath section? Or do you just mean we need to carrying 4 or 5 days food from the last supply point? How often do you walk near towns?

Tent: we use a Z-packs Duplex enclosed tent. Should keep the bugs out. Condensation can be a problem in the rain when you have close the tent up. May have to do some thinking on this.
We were planning on camping/bothy about 5 times a week and hopefully staying in towns a couple times a week. We have some money but are trying to keep the cost down by not staying in a hotel every night. Does this sound reasonable?

Rivers: someone mentioned "in full spate". In Arizona we have flash floods, where the water can rise dramatically for a couple hours due to heavy rains. Is this what you were talking about?

Is there anywhere that has the entire trail gps coordinates in one file, instead of downloading 30 files?

This appears to be a great site with a wealth of information. Thank you all again for the help!
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Re: Hello and a question or three

Postby Caberfeidh » Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:50 am

cribbage wrote: We had never heard of a midge or a bothy before...


I don't think you will have to mail food to yourselves, anywhere that can receive mail will have a food shop so you just have to carry a couple of days supplies between places. Small villages rather than towns but no problem with food supplies. There are hostels too which are good for an rest and shower. July/August could be blistering hot sunshine or floods of rain. Or both. The only other problems then will be crowds of tourists, drunk drivers and possibly sunbathing adders. Our only venomous snake, the adder is usually 18 inches to four feet long, has a zig-zag pattern down its back and can be any colour from black through red, brown and ash-white. Don't try to kill or pick them up , and keep a respectful distance. They like to lie in heather and bracken, long grass and sandy paths but prefer to avoid confrontation. A highland river spate is longer lasting than a flash flood, and makes crossing dangerous or impossible. But the weather will probably be kind and you'll be fine. Look out for interesting wildlife, and beware of the Man-Eating Sheep Monster of Rannoch Moor...

Skye waterfall.JPG
Hill burn in spate

Neist Point Skye Dec 08.JPG
Waterfalls blowing upwards - Isle of Skye

Glen Lui Adder August 08 #1.JPG
The Adder - Britain's only venomous snake

002 postcard Buchaille r.jpg
It's not all bad...

Ashaig May 09a.jpg
Sunset from Ashaig, Skye

Dunvegan Seal 04.JPG
Seals at Dunvegan, Skye

sheep monster.JPG
The Man-Eating Sheep Monster of Rannoch Moor
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