Author Topic: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)  (Read 868 times)

j-ms

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UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« on: November 29, 2018, 02:41:37 PM »
My apologies for the rather garbled title but it matches my current thought processes.

We got back from doing the length of Japan at the beginning of the month and will be heading off to cycle around South East Asia (again!) in January returning in March. 

When we return we hope to start a four month tour of the UK in mid-May (if the visa gods at the home office consider us suitable to be allowed into the country).  This is partly to visit friends in various parts of the country using LEJOG as a basic route to follow.  Four months is a long time for LEJOG but once we cross the border we hope to spend most of it tootling around the remoter areas of Scotland sleeping in the sticks and, hopefully, whatever bothies we can find.

My wife's memories of camping in Scotland are of having the hell being bitten out of her backside by the midges when she stepped out to relieve herself in the middle of the night.  She thinks that the midges will only be active after dark, hence the timing based on the longest days of the year but  I suspect that the midges might be a little less averse to sunlight than she hopes.

Anyhow, apart from advice on how to avoid the midges, we would be grateful for any hints and tips to make an unfocused cycling tour through the UK as enjoyable as possible.  Weather wise I am anticipating some more of what we experienced in Patagonia earlier this year.  Might it be warmer and wetter ?  Any suggestions on routes to take or avoid ?  I know this is very open ended but any advice would be helpful.

Jean-Marc

leftpoole

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2018, 04:36:43 PM »
Enjoy all of your planned trips. However you should ask the Scotland tourist board about midges (not after dark?) as there is a particular time of year when you can be midge free. I forget when that is but its not after dark!
Best regards,
John

rualexander

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2018, 05:16:18 PM »
Maybe better to do JOGLE rather than LEJOG then, if you are starting in mid-may.
You might then get a week or two of low midgie levels before they really get going.
Midgies can be about and biting at any time of day but are most prevalent in the evening before and around dusk once the wind has died down. Early morning can be bad too, before the breeze has picked up.
After dark, they tend not to be as bad.
They can make camping life hell any time after early June really through until mid september.

StuntPilot

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2018, 08:27:32 PM »
Yep ... hello from the front line here in Scotland!

Spring and Autumn are best for low midge numbers. Still and cloudy mornings and evenings bring them out especially in late June, July and August but exact times vary depending on location.

Here is a link for further information ... you can find plenty more advice on-line ...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/outdoors/articles/midge/

There are two agreed effective repellents. Avon 'Skin So Soft' (used by the British Army though not effective for all), and 'Smidge' which I have used and found to be quite good. Smidge is made in Dundee, Scotland and continually re-formulated and tested in front-line midge warfare situations. They have a forecast web site too which may be helpful ...

https://www.smidgeup.com/midge-forecast/

A midge net too to put over a hat like a Tilley hat is the best approach for dealing with the midge's psychological warfare techniques! ;)

Plan your campsite location carefully. Not too close to still water or sheep/cattle. Preferably slightly elevated near the top of the elevation, and noting the amount of breeze before dusk and before pitching the tent.

Midges are attracted to certain things ...

https://www.smidgeup.com/midges/midge-facts/what-are-midges-attracted-to/

When its really bad, stopping breathing may be the preferred choice  :-\

Not flapping around and cursing and swearing, though difficult, is recommended, as is a course in meditation and mindfulness prior to the tour  ;D
« Last Edit: November 29, 2018, 08:47:20 PM by StuntPilot »

macspud

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2018, 03:44:48 AM »
Avon 'Skin So Soft' most definitely does work. Smoke Coils, vitamin B starting well before arriving, Zen - don't kill the first one as that just attracts more. midge net over brimmed hat. Course of garlic capsules startling well before you arrive (also helps prevent tick bites). Light coloured clothing with long sleeves and long socks to tuck your trousers into, gloves, glasses to keep them out of your eyes when cycling (sometimes you have to just keep moving). Smoky fire. Hope for sunny dry weather with a gentle breeze. Lasty, find someone they find more tasty than you and stay close to them.
They do abate once it's fully dark though in summer there isn't much of that and less as you go north.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2018, 03:52:09 AM by macspud »

j-ms

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2018, 01:08:02 PM »
Thanks for the feedback.  Some good food for thought.  We might re-arrange how we do the trip.

Interestingly,  here in Africa Avon Skin So Soft is recommended as a deterrent for tstetse flies.   In the past I've used a tin can filled with smouldering elephant dung to keep the tstetse flies and bigger dangerous things at bay but I am guessing Highland Cattle dung might work just as well on the midges.  In Patagonia I would get a smoky fire going to keep the mozzies away.


mickeg

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2018, 06:32:38 PM »
On a few camping trips where I expected a lot of insects, I brought mosquito netting jacket and pants.  When you wear the pants over shorts there are a few small spots where the netting is in contact with your skin, the bugs can therefore bite you right there.  But overall I have been pretty happy with it in buggy campsites in warm weather when I want to wear short sleeve shirt and short pants.  But if walking through the woods, any twig can grab the netting and put a hole in it, so be careful.  For a quick run outside in the middle of the night from the tent, this might be more effort to put it on than it is worth, that is your call.
https://www.rei.com/c/mosquito-net-clothing

If cool enough to wear long sleeves and long pants, maybe the headnet and brimmed hat is adequate?  The only thing I did not like about headnets when I used them camping is that it was pretty hard to cook and occasionally sample your food while cooking when the spoonful of food hits the net instead of your mouth.

I have not tried any treated clothing, but here is some info on that:
https://www.consumerreports.org/insect-repellents/permethrin-treated-clothing-mosquito-bites/

I might have to try that smouldering elephant dung some time.  Or, maybe not.

bobs

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2018, 10:14:06 PM »
The midges are wee harmless creatures,  up here when we go camping we just lay down on the wet heather and cover ourselves with a plaid.

leftpoole

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2018, 01:16:05 PM »
The midges are wee harmless creatures,  up here when we go camping we just lay down on the wet heather and cover ourselves with a plaid.
;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

energyman

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2018, 10:37:41 PM »
Guess who works for the Scottish Tourist Board .............   ;D

John Saxby

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2018, 11:27:41 PM »
Hi Jean-Marc,

A few thoughts on the matters of BABs (Bad-Assed Bugs):

1)   Clothing: +1 for George's suggestions.  If you don't want to spring for mozzie-mesh shirt & longs, then just make sure that your long-sleeved shirts are closed at the wrist & neck, and your long pants ditto at the ankles.  For a bug veil, I find the best ones are long, so that they cane drape over your shoulders.  Failing that, make sure that any drawstring goes outside your collar.

2)   Repellents: People have different bio-chemistries, so what works for one person may not work for another. E.g.: friends have recommended Skin-So-Soft, but it doesn't work at all for me. Ditto for citronella.

     The only manufactured chemical repellent I've  found that works is DEET, and the higher concentration, the better. (95% is the max I've seen.)  BUT:  I don't put this on my skin, just on my clothing at key points of entry. And beware--it can dissolve nylon, so keep it away from nylon clothing, tents, etc. OTOH, it's an excellent fire-starter.

     I have used one repellent made from natural ingredients such as eucalyptus. This came from a recipe said to by used by indigenous people, and sold by a friend of our daughter.  Her company has the splendid name of Aroma Borealis, and it's based in Whitehorse, Yukon, where they know a thing or two about bugs.  But, that's a long way from where you are, and last I checked, Bev didn't sell the  repellent (called "Skeet-addle" -- they know a thing or two about word play in Yukon, too) any more.

3)   On midges:  We have them here in Eastern Ontario, in the spring, but they're not too serious, more of a nuisance.  Ten years ago (!!) I spent a week hiking the West Highland Way in mid-June, and the midges weren't bad. I camped a couple of nights, and found that my hat + bug veil was enough. OTOH, where there was a carpet of heather (where midges are s'posed to swarm in their jillions), on Rannoch Moor, I didn't have a quiet still evening--there was a fierce wind-and-rainstorm, and the midges took cover.

4)   Traditional bug repellents:  The workers who built Canada's railways in the 19th century, and who maintained them during the 20th, used something called a smudge pot:  a heavy pail carries a layer of moss, some lighted charcoal, and more moss.  This generates thick acrid smoke which keeps everything away, including blackflies (see below.)  Not very handy for a cyclist, though. (Don't confuse a smudge pot with a smudging ceremony, though--that's something else again.)

5)   The blackfly:  Nothing works to keep these savage brutes away, 'cept for the smudge pot. You don't have to worry about these in old Scotland, however -- but you do have to worry about them in Nova Scotia & points west.

      How bad are they? Here is Wade Hemsworth's song and the animated comic:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjLBXb1kgMo

Cheers,  John
 

StuntPilot

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2018, 12:00:50 PM »
I have also used a South African brand called 'Tabard' and found it very effective. I bought it at a campsite on the West Highland Way in Scotland and they gave it high praise.

julk

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2018, 10:11:16 PM »
from its website,
Tabard
Active ingredient, Diethyltoluamide, commonly known as DEET

no wonder it works!

John Saxby

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2018, 01:57:57 AM »
Interesting that it's a South African brand.  In the thee years that we lived there, 2003-06, one of the things that I liked most was that when hiking-cycling-camping, I never had to use any bug repellent. (I carried it, from habit.) Very different conditions from those I knew when living in Zambia, or from travelling in Malawi, Mozambique, and the Zambezi Valley -- some serious malarial mozzie terrain there.

trailplanner

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Re: UK but mostly Scotland (if that's possible)
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2018, 10:23:44 AM »
+1 Tabard; Skin so Soft and Smidge Forecast

I wouldn't let midges put you off cycle touring in Scotland.  In reality, you are moving too fast and they tend only to be a problem when you stop, to camp or for lunch, and only in peak season around the west coast hot spots (Skye, Glen Nevis, others) and when the wind is calm.  Pitch and eat early then snuggle up behind the bug net.  If there is a good breeze they won't trouble you either.  Pray for a good tailwind :-)

Nobody has mentioned Ticks?  I find these more of a problem.  A cycling friend I met made a mistake of wild camping on a Tick infestation (Lochinver) and spent 3 days picking the little critters out of all his camping gear.  The general advice is to be aware, check yourself daily and be aware of potential infection, easily dealt with early with a course of antibiotics.  But I'm not an expert, so read:

https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/resourcedocument.aspx?id=6667

https://www.mountaineering.scot/safety-and-skills/health-and-hygiene/ticks

I suffered a few too.  These annoying little creatures have a habit of finding a place to gorge on your body that you can't see.  Behind the knee, or in the nether regions.  Ouch.

www.trailplanner.co.uk