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England & Scotland itinerary help

Quick check, friends. July + Scotland + probability of midges = ?
I'm reading reviews and want to know how bad this is? Is it like "some mosquitos"? Or more like a "swarm of flesh-hungry bugs best to be avoided"? Googling this question tells me midges will most likely eat me alive.

Wait two years until retirement for Scotland and then come in the fall? Googling this question tells me midges will rule the world soon!

This almost seems like a ridiculous question, but I'm asking anyway. I love that this community tolerates and embraces all of these questions.

Thank you,
Everyone has a midge story to tell and the midgier the better!!!

Midges are small biting insects (it is actually the female that does the biting). They are a different species to mosquitos but can bite just as well. They are found anywhere where there are damp, humid and still conditions. They are also found in Northumberland and areas further south in England, although they don't get the same publicity as in Scotland. We can get bitten in woodland in Lincolnshire during the summer... A spray of midge repellent before setting out usually does the trick.

They thrive in areas of planted coniferous forest or areas where there is a lot of still open water. They are worst first thing in the morning and around dusk. If it is windy or exposed, they are not a problem. If walking in woodland, they probably won't be too much of a problem until you stop and sit down. Then you have about ten minutes to take a breather before they descend!

The Midge season can start as early as late April and last until October. The peak is during July/August.

Having said that we had a holiday in the Galloway Forest at end of August - ideal midge conditions with trees, lots of water and long grass for the midge to lay their eggs. The midges could drive us crazy first thing or near dusk, but during the day as long as we were moving they weren't really a problem. With the long daylight hours that was usually around 6am and 9pm...

Citronella candles are supposed to help if sitting outside but I've no experience of using them.

In cities or other built up areas you won't encounter them and they are less of a problem in lowland agricultural areas, or is exposed areas where it is always windy. Shetland should be prime midge country but is so exposed and windy, it isn't.

There are also clegs or horse flies which can also give a nasty bite, as well as ants...

Despite all their bad press, people still go to Scotland. General advice is the cover up - wear long trousers and tuck into socks to stop them getting at your ankles (always a popular place for the midges to attack). Wear long sleeved shirts. and keep cuffs buttoned. You can also invest in a Midge net (best worn over a wide brimmed hat to keep it off your face). This tucks into the top of a shirt. However this is really only needed in places where midges are a real problem and you probably won't see many people wearing them, unless they are forestry workers. Some outdoor companies sell what they describe as insect repellent clothing that has been treated with a chemical that is supposed to keep midges etc at bay. Again I've not tried any of these so don't know how effective they are or for how many washes they stay bug proof ...

That's got all the negatives out of the way.... Yes midges can be a problem, depending on where you are heading for. I've had several holidays in the Isle of Man in July/August and haven't had trouble with midges. I've also holidayed in Scotland durin g teh summer and unless I've been walking all day in prime midge country haven't really experienced any problems - certainly not as many to stop me going back...

Don't be put off - go for it...
I'm chuckling a bit at myself as I read this Eleanor! It was like I went down the "diagnose yourself webmd" rabbit hole, but for midges!! You've set me back on the right path.

I'll get some spray!
Glad it was helpful. If you believed all the stories about the horrors of travel, you'd end up not going outside the house... Pleased you are back on track.
Great explanation Eleanor, thanks! I worry about midges too. I grew up in Ontario and we had black fly season in the northern areas and it was horrible but only for a month. So I’ve ruled out Scotland because of midges but should reconsider. I ended up with lots of bug bites on our recent trip to Switzerland. We had very hot weather. Next year I am going to go later so we get colder weather.

In Scotland I would like to see some of those wonderful stone circles and standing stones.

If you are thinking of going to the Orkneys I recently read a very good memoir set there. Amy Liptrot “The Outrun”.

I second the recommendation of Mull for a Scottish island. We stayed there for a week a few years ago, specifically here: one of the most beautiful views I've had from a rental and there were sheep outside the windows in the morning. https://www.ardnacross.com/

If you go to Mull highly recommend day trip to Iona: fascinating history and just gorgeous.
Hey Laura,

I'm actually in the midst of planning my own Cotswold trip, so I've done some research here myself!

I'm an outdoor/adventure traveler, and also tend to like self-guided experiences (or minimal guidance), so I have been looking at various walking and cycling tours as a way to explore the region.

There are bunch of companies offering these types of tours, but I tend to just use them for inspiration on what to see and how to plan a route.

IA couple of the better ones I've come across are Active England Tours and Cotswold Walks, but there are many more.

I'm afraid I have less advice to give on Scotland. While it's on my short list, I haven't done much research there although I here the Isle of Skye is a must for hiking.

Hope this helps!
Hello ST Friends,

This is new territory for me, I’m usually hunkered down in the France forum. The Olympics have us rethinking our original summer plans of our first trip post-CoVid: to France. We are seriously considering a modified UK three week trip. Neither of us have ever been, although we’re both interested and both have ancestry in the UK, like so many others. I said "modified" because we’re skipping London for now.

We need help designing a Slow itinerary! I know several of you are well-travelled in the part of the world. Aside from suggestions from a friend or two, and Rick Steves down the road, we have no idea where we’re going! I just want to inhale the beauty! Here are our hopes and and needs which are definitely editable.

TIMELINE: July - 3 weeks (we’re teachers and I have elderly parents needing help, this is the window)
BUDGET: what is "reasonable" …?…but willing to splurge on certain aspects

The Cotswolds, Bath and?
Skye & Highlands


Self-catering, inns, B&Bs (hotels in areas where necessary)
outside space a must (patio, terrace, garden, shared at B&Bs, etc)
small villages and towns
restaurants, pubs, shops or market walkable

Walking / hiking
at least a couple places where cycling is possible (Rentals for husband)
a suggested whiskey and scotch visit
Nature by day, cozy bed at night!

Pauline has directed me to indispensable links as well!

thank you all,
I know the owner of Cotswold Walks (Andrew). I’ve tested some of his walking materials and they are good. I have a travel article about walking in the Cotswolds. I must have linked to it above but here is the link again.

Lance, have you come across the OS 1:25000 Explorer map of the Cotswolds? They are regarded as the walker's Bible and really are an essential tool for walkers. At a scale of 4cm to 1km, they are very detailed, even showing field boundaries, which is very usefiul letting you know where stiless/gates are. Public footpaths are marked in green and you can plan your own walks.
Lance, have you come across the OS 1:25000 Explorer map of the Cotswolds? They are regarded as the walker's Bible and really are an essential tool for walkers. At a scale of 4cm to 1km, they are very detailed, even showing field boundaries, which is very usefiul letting you know where stiless/gates are. Public footpaths are marked in green and you can plan your own walks.
that looks amazing, Eleanor! thanks!
They are! I don't think anywhere else has anything quite as comprehensive or as good. I have a huge collection of paper maps but as Pauline says, you can get them on your phone too.

You can also access the OS Maps from Bing (do a google search for Bing Maps. This link takes you to the map based on Scunthorpe). Click on the top circle and this opens a window giving five options. Click on the one for Ordnance Survey. You will need to click on+ to enlarge the map to pick up the OS map at a scale of 1:50,000. You may need another 2 or 3 clicks to get it to 1:25,000 size. I find this really useful when planning for an area.
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Checking back in with an update and, of course, questions.
It is so late for me to still be dragging my feet and have no reservations. Still three weeks but we've narrowed the field, so to speak, to these destinations:

-Edinburgh/Glasgow for arrival/departure - I think - in the interest of gaining more travel time.

-From there, and let's say it's Edinburgh for arguments sake, northeast to Orkney (probably 3 nights)

-Mull & Oban

-Depart from Glasgow (but maybe we won't "visit" due to our long distances...thoughts?)

This is a huge edit from my original inquiry, I know! I also know that I couldn't have chosen destinations any further apart. Well, I COULD have, but...that's a digression.

So, friendly experts, after shaking your heads, are there any new suggestions or comments about this agenda? How/where to fill in the blanks and create a "longer stay"? We are looking at the drives as opportunities for stopping and sight seeing and do not mind "burning" a rental day by going out for an overnight "day trip".

I am stymied. I have never been a foot-dragger when planning a trip, but I cannot get beyond talking about the trip. I've created about five itineraries and most of them have us moving every 1-3 nights and it scared me!

Please don't vote me off the SloTrav island yet! And I'm saving all of the prior suggestions for a future, post retirement, trip.

Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences and expertise,
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This sounds amazing. Have you got accommodation planned and booked yet? If not that might lead to a rethink as places do get booked up quickly and there isn’t a lot to start with...

It’s perfectly feasible and I’ve seen a lot worse ideas. (One wanted to do Islay, Mull and Skye in as many days!)

Allow a day to get to Orkney and another from Orkney to Oban via Glasgow.

To save time, think about flying Loganair from either Edinburgh or Glasgow to Kirkwall. Hire a car when you get to Orkney. Allow at least 3 nights as that only effectively gives two and a bit days. longer would be better. It would be best to fly back into Glasgow as that is closer to Oban. Hire a carat the airpoirt and head for Oban and the ferry across to Mull. Allow four days for Mull if possible as that will let you spend a day exploring the island, and then do day trips to Iona, Ulva and also Staffa and Fingal’s Cave. If time allows, plan a couple of days in and around Oban too!

Then head back to Glasgow and drop off the car...
Thank you Eleanor! Great advice.
And we have some accommodation, every hesitation leads to a missed booking, so it is this week's goal to get that buttoned up!
Good luck Laura and I hope you get everything sorted soon.
Accommodation does seem to book up really quickly now. Gone are the days of 'winging it'

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