Planning a Midge-Free Trip to Scotland
Discovering the Ideal Time to Visit and Dodge Highland Midges
If you’re considering a trip to Scotland, you’ve probably come across information about tiny but bothersome insects that could make or break your visit – yes, we’re talking about highland midges, also known as Scottish midges.
Concerned About Midges? No Need to Worry!
Perhaps you’re wondering about the best time to visit Scotland to steer clear of midges and avoid their relentless bites. Or maybe your plans align with the peak midge season, and you’re feeling uneasy. Rest assured, I’ve got you covered.
Insights from a Local
I grew up in central Scotland, where midges weren’t always a major issue, but I still vividly recall encountering those massive swarms of insects.
As an adult, I began exploring the west coast of Scotland and its islands, and let me tell you, it was an eye-opening experience. It’s quite different from what I was accustomed to, and I came to understand the horror stories.
Midge Repellent Recommendations
If you happen to visit Scotland during midge season, you’ll want to have a reliable solution on hand – Avon’s Skin So Soft. This is the go-to product for locals (even endorsed by the Army!) to keep midges at bay. It may sound unusual, but it genuinely works!
Getting Acquainted with Midges
Midges can undoubtedly be an unpleasant aspect of Scotland, particularly in tourist-frequented areas during the peak season. It’s no surprise that they have gained a somewhat negative reputation.
Ideal Timing for a Midge-Free Visit
Midge Season Overview
Midges are most active from late spring to early autumn in Scotland, with their peak occurring during the summer. Ironically, this is when Scotland’s weather is often at its best!
If you want to completely avoid midges in Scotland, plan your visit from late September to May. This means targeting early spring, late autumn, and winter as the prime times to experience Scotland without midges.
Preferred Midge Habitats
Midges are tiny flying insects found in various parts of the world, with Scotland being one of their favored locations (though they can also be found in England and Wales, albeit less prominently). Despite their small size (about that of a pinhead), they swarm in groups, making encounters rather unpleasant. The worst part is that they bite, leaving you itching and scratching for several days.
Midge Hotspots in Scotland
If you’re concerned about encountering midges during your visit, you might wonder where they are most problematic. Fortunately, midges are not a concern throughout the entire country.
Regions Most Affected by Midges:
- Highlands, particularly the west coast (less so on the east near Inverness).
- The west coast spans from the far north to Dumfries and Galloway in the south.
- Islands – Many of Scotland’s islands, primarily those on the west coast, are notorious for midges. The Isle of Rum is reputedly the worst place in Scotland for midges. While I’ve visited a few times and had mixed experiences, it’s worth noting that it’s not always as bad as you might imagine! From the Outer Hebrides down to Arran, you should be prepared for midge encounters.
- Lochs, rivers, and canals – midges are attracted to water, so you’ll find them near inland lochs, especially in sheltered areas, and around shallow rivers.
Midge-Free Zones in Scotland
If you’re contemplating whether to visit Scotland during the summer months, rest assured that you shouldn’t cancel your plans. Scotland is a remarkable destination despite the presence of these tiny insects, and there are strategies to cope with them.
Given that midges are not ubiquitous across Scotland, you have options regarding where to travel. Numerous places in Scotland are midge-free, offering you respite from worrying about insect bites.
Optimal Midge-Free Locations:
- Cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh.
- Exploration of the East Coast.
Alternative Approaches to Avoid Midges
If you’re heading to an area known for midges during peak season, there are still methods to mitigate their impact or make your experience more pleasant. Don’t let midges deter you entirely; while they can be bothersome, you might not be severely affected, and worrying too much could cause you to miss out on Scotland’s beauty.
Midges dislike windy weather, so coastal or hill walks when there’s a breeze may be suitable for you. However, be aware that they’ll still be present in sheltered areas, so you might not entirely escape them.
Several insect repellents are effective in Scotland. Many locals swear by a moisturizer called Skin So Soft by Avon, so it’s worth packing some. You can find it on Amazon, and many local shops stock it because of its popularity and effectiveness.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Midges in Scotland
When is Midge Season in Scotland?
Midge season in Scotland typically spans the warmer months, running from late May to early September, with July and August being the peak periods.
Where are midges worst in Scotland?
Midges prefer sheltered areas near water, so locations near lochs and riversides can be problematic. Boggy terrain, sheltered footpaths, and even wooded areas are spots where midges thrive.
Midge-Free Areas in Scotland?
Cities and towns in Scotland tend to have fewer midges, and the East Coast is generally less affected than the West.
Do Scottish Midges bite?
Yes, unfortunately, they do. This is where they become a significant annoyance, as their bites can lead to discomfort, and some individuals may even experience severe reactions.
What time of day do midges bite?
Midges are active from early morning to early evening, with peak activity during dawn and dusk. However, their activity can vary depending on the weather conditions. For instance, on calm and overcast days, they tend to be more active.
What should I wear to avoid midges?
To protect yourself, it’s recommended to wear long-sleeve tops and lightweight trousers that cover your skin. Some suggest avoiding dark clothing, as midges may be attracted to it. Using a midge repellent is also advisable, as it can deter the insects by masking your scent.
Why are there no midges in England?
Contrary to popular belief, midges are found in England, particularly in rural locations such as the Lake District, the Peak District, and even as far south as Cornwall.
Is Skye bad for midges?
If you visit Skye during the peak season (May to September), you can expect to encounter midges. The Isle of Skye is situated in the heart of Midge territory in Scotland.
How to treat midge bites?
Treating midge bites is relatively straightforward. If you experience discomfort from midge bites, consider using antihistamine tablets, which can be obtained from local chemists and supermarkets. Smaller grocery stores may also stock them. Additionally, using bite cream can help alleviate pain and prevent excessive itching.
When to Visit Scotland to Avoid Midge Season – In Conclusion
As you’ve learned, planning a trip to Scotland can be challenging due to the overlap between the best months for visiting and peak midge activity. Ultimately, you’ll need to decide whether midges are a deal-breaker for you. However, there are effective strategies to deal with midges, including taking precautions, wearing appropriate clothing, and using repellents. You can also opt to explore less affected regions, each of which offers its own unique charm!