West Highland Way Planning

Discussion in 'Places & Planning' started by DuneElliot, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. DuneElliot

    DuneElliot Ultralighter

    Having grown up in the UK I am obviously familiar with the crappy weather that can be the norm, especially up north.

    I am thinking of doing the WHW as my first longer backpacking trip back in the UK in 2019 but wasn't sure when the best weather window was. Here in the US when planning for the best weather and fewer mosquitoes we plan for mid-August to mid-September. Is this also a fairly decent window for the WHW?

    Also, while I don't mind hiking solo for shorter trips I'd love to find someone to go with as I find the longer trips much more fun with company, especially in camp. I don't know a single person in the UK who enjoys backpacking so where would I start to look for people who might be interested in doing this?
  2. Shewie

    Shewie Administrator Staff Member

    The midges tend to be worse between late May and mid September typically, avoid that window and it should be a fairly bug free trip.

    I might be up for tagging along if you want some male company
  3. DuneElliot

    DuneElliot Ultralighter

    So they don't peter out somewhat like mosquitoes do once it starts to get colder in late summer/early autumn? I can deal with some but would like to avoid the peak season if possible.

    Most, actually all, of my backpacking partners have been guys so I'm good with male company for trips...I haven't backpacked with a woman yet, but certainly not a conscious choice. I'm not a fast hiker...tend to do around 12 miles a day more if it's mellow, so would be planning for 9 days out. I tend to start really planning for trips like this around April so will start a thread then in regards to company...so keep an eye out.
  4. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    IMO the WHW is not a walk I’d recommend to an experienced backpacker, it’s a straightforward & relatively low-level walk that’s never far from ‘civilisation’. Got bored a few years ago & completed it in winter (February) in 4 ½ days; didn’t see any others on-route. Can be quite busy May to September with lots of folk grumbling of enormous blisters & how taxing it is, despite their gear being on a luggage service; the only poorer long-distance routes IMO is the East Highland Way & the Great Glen Way.

    There’re far better bits of Scotland to visit.
  5. DuneElliot

    DuneElliot Ultralighter

    Good to know. It won't be my only trip of the year, I hope, and I'm not against it being civilized and easy...maybe I can do it in fewer days then and just plan for a week. There will be plenty of time to do much exploration of Scotland.

    The guys and I (team of four) have a plan to do the TGO Challenge in 2020 (application accepted of course).
  6. Scottk

    Scottk Summit Camper

    Midgies only die off once the first frosts arrive and start biting end May/ June. Varies a little but that is the approximate times. Little but of wind and they won't be a problem. Smidge works well for me.
    May can be a great month with nice long days, September the days are getting shorter but is usually warmer.
    Remember and watch for ticks.
    I found the first part of the WHW pretty forgettable but definitely gets better. The TGO is much more entertaining.
  7. DuneElliot

    DuneElliot Ultralighter

    Sounds a lot like mosquito season here then...good to know.

    We deal with ticks here a lot...less in Wyoming because it's dry. Mid-April thru end of June we have to watch for them. I have a tick puller. I am, unfortunately, way too used to pulling them off me and the dogs. My favorite time of year for longer trips is mid-August to mid-September due to the lack of bugs generally.

    I am looking forward to both trips...and more.
  8. Scottk

    Scottk Summit Camper

    I'm sure you will enjoy them both. I got very lucky with the weather in September doing the WHW and walked most of it in a t shirt. Likewise, this May I spent half the time in a t shirt and shorts doing the TGO.
    Did both trips solo but there are lots of people about. On the TGO I walked with someone most days but I enjoy walking alone as it is tough to find someone who is walking the same distance and speed! Spent a couple of days with Andre Ostergard (lighter packs.com) which was great as we walk a similar pace ( he blogs so stops to get the camera work which gives me a break!!). TGO is very friendly and you always bump into people at the bottlenecks.
  9. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    Midges are at their worst in July and August only thing that stops them is wind and cold. Rain is no deterrent.

    Ticks are active from March to November - we do have Lymes disease but probably not as prevalent as in the NE of USA. Best way is to avoid 'lingering' in any place that looks like 'deer hanging out/laying up' place -choose to sit on rocks, avoid long vegetation like braken.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
    Enzo likes this.
  10. DuneElliot

    DuneElliot Ultralighter

    I don't mind walking alone, but prefer to camp with others. I do, however, have to be considerate as I hike with my dogs (keeps me from being too alone on the trail) and not everyone wants to hike or camp with dogs. They are very well-behave, well-mannered and respectfulm and other backpackers I've done trips with have loved having them along.

    So does that mean that May is generally a pretty good month for backpacking in Scotland then with fewer midges?

    Tick season there is about the same as the NE then...prolonged compared to out in the dry west. I will likely treat clothes with Permethin for Scotland hiking. A lot of people on the AT carry a full course of Doxycycline with them in case of tick bites, as a precaution...and probably not a bad idea to do in places where they are prevalent.
  11. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    May is my favourite month for Scotland...snowy season aside.

    Its a good backpacking month.
  12. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    Ticks all over UK not just Scotland - folks get bet + Lymes form in their own gardens - rare a occurance.

    April and May can be good months in Scotland - with the understanding that the weather can do anything between heat wave and snow storm and back agian in short order :wacky:

    We tend to be less inclined to 'medicate just in case' in UK and the GP won't write you a prescription on that basis - you'll need a good reason to get any medicament.
    I agree with the principle.
  13. DuneElliot

    DuneElliot Ultralighter

    Thanks for the info. I'm currently in Wyoming...we have all four seasons in an hour on a regular basis and it snows pretty much every month of the year, although generally not below about 8000 ft in July and August so I'm usually well prepared...I actually prefer snow over rain! I actually bought a rain suit just for the UK weather. May sounds like it might be a better bet than September then. So much to figure out...it's all different from backpacking in the US. I'm still trying to figure out how to wild camp in England.

    Most people don't medicate "just in case" here either, but Lyme disease can be a pretty serious issue and when you can't get to a Dr because you're on a long trail and can't get to town for a few days it makes sense. While I don't have doxy in my back-up meds as it doesn't last I do have a cache of other anti-biotics.
  14. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    If you have luggage space it would be a good idea to stock up on Permethin in the US, it's harder to find at solutions >0.5% & a lot more expensive in the UK.
  15. ZenTrekker

    ZenTrekker Ultralighter

    I think you would need to be careful bringing antibiotics into the UK. I'm guessing they would be confiscated if found unless you have a letter from your Doctor
    cathyjc likes this.
  16. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    yeah...our so-well-staffed Border agency....
  17. ZenTrekker

    ZenTrekker Ultralighter

    Are Customs part of the Border Agency now?
  18. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Well really...who cares for pedantry :D

    I believe the point is made....

    ....even US immigration seem laid-back these days...something I never thought I'd say!
  19. ZenTrekker

    ZenTrekker Ultralighter

    Well I clearly missed the point. Are they well staffed or understaffed? I always use the automatic passport readers
  20. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Under.
    Clare likes this.
  21. OwenM

    OwenM Ultralighter

    It's not really that different, in England and Wales once you're above the level of the walls and out on the open moors you're unlikely to be bothered. Technically you're supposed to ask permission but who know which farm to ask at. It does help if you don't use a very bright tent. In Scotland you can camp on uncultivated land, with the exception of a few loch side locations around Loch Lomond in summer.
  22. ZenTrekker

    ZenTrekker Ultralighter

    You can also wild camp legally in certain parts of Dartmoor
  23. DuneElliot

    DuneElliot Ultralighter

    Sadly I'm already struggling for luggage space. I am paying for an extra box, plus two overweight bags, on top of everything I already shipped in April.

    Fish antibiotics are the same as the ones for people but can be bought without a prescription. That's all I have...but actually they are already sitting in my dad's spare room in Brighton

    I have a green tent...TT Stratospire Li (DCF Olive Drab)
    What do you mean "above the level of the walls"?

    This is good to know...I love Dartmoor
  24. OwenM

    OwenM Ultralighter

    In many upland areas such as the Peak, Lakes, Yorkshire Dales the field boundaries are marked not by fences but by walls, these are made of dry stones with no mortar holding them together. Building them is quite an art. As you walk from the valley's upward once you've past the highest wall your on the open moor or fell. If you camp up there it unlikely anyone will bother walking all the way up from the valley just to tell you to "**** off". In 40 years I've only ever been bothered once and that was when I was packing up in the morning.
  25. Taz38

    Taz38 Section Hiker

    I wildcamped for a week on the fells in Yorkshire last month, no probs :)
    Common sense, stealth and leave no trace, and wait for dusk. In the mornings I don't care too much, I'm leaving anyway.
    Enzo likes this.

Share This Page