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July hiking and biking options - can I avoid the midges?

Hi all-

I will be in Scotland for 11-13 days in the beginning of July and am looking to do a multi-day active adventure. I haven't quite decided what I want to do yet, but the options I'm currently evaluating are:

  • Hiking the West Highland Way (Fort William -> Glasgow)
  • Hiking the Great Glen Way (Fort William -> Inverness)
  • Biking the Great Glen Way
  • Biking through Cairngorm, West Highlands and Skye
  • Hiking around Argyll and western Isles (Kerrera, Jura, Islay and Gigha)

But I'm concerned about the midges. I have heard that will be peak season to be prey for these hungry creatures and I wouldn't mind factoring in which of those options above might give me the best chance to avoid them. Will one of those options have reduced likelihood of encountering bad midges? Or is it pretty equal across the board? Or are they really not that bad and I shouldn't factor the midges in when choosing among the above?

I appreciate your input!

Posted by
12372 posts

I hope that someone with more experience than I have can respond. We were planning on a hike on the West Highland Way , the whole length, in May 2014. But we were dissuaded by reports of midges. I do not mind so much, but my husband really, really hates being bitten by small insects. To the point that when we travel to Alaska, we go in in late August to avoid mosquitoes and no-see-ums.

So instead of walking the West Highland Way, we spent a week in Scotland doing day hikes and exploring the cities. We hiked two days on the WHW from a base at Bridge of Orchy, and spent a lovely day walking a loop on the Isle of Kerrara from Oban. And guess what? We never saw or heard a midge or other small annoying creature.

Posted by
5657 posts

We walked the WHW during May a number of years ago. No midges, no Conic Hill lambing, and only one day of heavy rain. But I have no personal July experience. The WHW website has a FAQ section that addresses midges:
http://www.west-highland-way.co.uk/ww_faq.asp#q18

Are Midges a Problem?

Midges can be a problem at certain times of year, usually from June
until August. The culprits are the pregnant females seeking blood in
order to produce their eggs. You should carry a midge repellant with
you just in case.

Posted by
2516 posts

having lived in Scotland on and off for 60 years I seemd to be immune to the midge bite BUT I have been toild it is because I am a regular beer drinker.Brewer's yeast tablets seem to help mitigate the effect that the midge can have but you have to take the tablets on a regular basis and for a bout 3 months before you hit Scotland. I have also been told that Avon Skin so Soft is and excellent midge repellent.

Posted by
72 posts

We walked from Glasgow to Fort William last August and weren't bothered by midges even though we expected to be. Some of the places we stayed had signs warning not to open the (unscreened) windows, so maybe we just got a low-midge year. It was a beautiful walk and we highly recommend it.

Posted by
5563 posts

Midges and Mosquitoes are two things that I've not allowed to stop my adventures. And I've vacationed in Northern Wisconsin and lived in Illinois for many years and so I know mosquitoes. I have that midges are less prevalent than mosquitoes. They are equally annoying when they show up, but if you're prepared then you walk through them. Like mosquitoes they come with overcast, still weather and at dawn and dusk. I hike with a midgie hat and long sleeved shirt. I am not afraid to use DEET. It means that I use DEET once a year for two days. Don't let midges stop you!