Top Tips For Planning A Scottish Walking Holiday
Taking a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands is on many people’s bucket list, with challenges to suit all abilities, not to mention some of the most beautiful remote and scenic landscapes in the world. If 2023 is going to be the year that you book that trip, here’s a quick guide to visiting the glens, islands, highlands, and lochsides of Scotland.
Decide what kind of landscape you prefer
Scotland has some of the most challenging mountain climbing routes in the world, such as
Skye Cuillin ridge traverse and the Aonach Eagach ridge. On the other hand, there are plenty of lower level moderate to easy routes, in Glencoe for example, or along the many lochs and coastal paths.
High mountains bring the thrill of adventure and achievement, and the rewards of breathtaking panoramic views. However, if you want to take on the challenge of Scotland’s bigger peaks, you will need to be physically and mentally prepared. It can help to plan a series of weekend walks of increasing levels of difficulty to build up your stamina.
If you have a reasonable level of fitness and are keen to tackle a Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft—there are 282 of them!) then it can be a great idea to hire an expert mountain guide to accompany you on your first outing.
This will take some of the navigational pressure off your shoulders, leaving you free to pick up some tips from the professionals, as well as enjoy the stunning views along the way!
What time of year will you be taking your holiday?
It is not just the terrain that you need to consider, but what the likely weather conditions will be. The Highlands of Scotland tend to get a lot more ice and snow than the rest of the UK, and wintery weather can occur right up to May. If you have no previous experience of walking in colder temperatures, then late spring, summer, or early autumn may be best.
For those who are prepared to put in some winter walking practice, with shorter excursions and some time spent learning how to use crampons, ice axes, and what emergency procedures to have in place, the rewards of walking in winter and early spring can be great.
Walking in warmer weather can also bring its challenges, especially during the midge season, which is at its peak in July and August. Midges are small flying insects that can bite, and while largely harmless they can be a source of irritation.
What to look for in accommodation
If you are undertaking a long distance trek, then your accommodation is mainly going to be under canvas! Scotland has much more liberal wild camping laws than the rest of the UK, so this can be a great option for the adventurous.
If you are booking a home base for a series of day walks, you need to look for some hiker friendly features. These include a drying room for soaking wet coats, rucksacks, and boots, and a packed lunch service.