Isle Of Skye, Scotland
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Mar 7, 2013 1:10 PM Last Post By: nomadjustin
Dec 5, 2012 4:49 AM
Isle Of Skye, ScotlandHallo,
Some friends and I are planning a trip to the Isle of Skye in the first week of february 2013. We would like to go by car (from Belgium), and do some day hikes or a 4-5 day trek there. Are both possible this time of year?
What bugs me most of all (and I've been all around forums to look it up): can we camp on our way? Is the weather too unpredictable to sleep in a tent randomly? Is it too cold anyway?
Some tips from locals may come out handy.;)
Dec 5, 2012 5:40 AM
Dec 5, 2012 6:55 AM
2As you come from Belgium you should know how cold it is, I would not fancy it and remember it will be dark by 4pm. There are B&Bs but quite expensive around £50+ for a double room maybe cheaper in Feb if they are open.
Dec 5, 2012 7:03 AM
3You can camp, though you will need warm gear, but I don't know if I'd choose to do it. Many campsites won't be open at this time of year, though Uig Bay Campsite and Ashaig Campsite definitely are, and possibly others. You can also wild camp in Scotland, on most unenclosed land. Although this gives you more flexibility if you are doing a multi-day hike (and is free) it does mean you won't have hot showers/ somewhere dry to cook if it's raining. If you are considering it, make sure you read Scotland's Outdoor Access Code.
You shouldn't usually have any problem walking in February (unless there's heavy snowfall, which is unlikely but possible), but avoid higher areas where there is snow lying. Walkhighlands Skye page has walks on Skye with information on the terrain, and very handy pronunciation clips if your Gaelic isn't that good!
Edited by: CazInATeacup
Edited by: CazInATeacup
Dec 5, 2012 7:07 AM
4You could look at hostels and bunkhouses like here: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/hostels.shtml
Main problem with camping is the weather, it canbe very windy up there.
Dec 5, 2012 7:12 AM
5Thinking back over the last few years some of our worst weather has been in early February and this is just not north of the border. Therefore you must have a flexible driving timetable in case of severe snow. Gales can be another factor. In any case you are presumably allowing two days driving each way.
Winter backpacking in the Cuilins is for the more experienced partly because of the weather and lack of light with long hours in the tent even if you base yourself say at Sligachan with the nearby joys of the hotel. Note many hostels will also be closed. The regional lp and Rough Guides for the Highlands & Islands will give you good contacts.
Though there is generally less snow than in the Cairngorms ice, mist, rain can still be major factors.
Dec 5, 2012 7:45 AM
6I personally wouldn't camp (in Scotland) in February but if you are used to cold camping and are prepared and have the right gear then it can be done.
Websites that I watch religiously for the few days running up to any hiking / camping trip before deciding to go ahead or not are
http://xcweather.co.uk/forecast/portree for detailed weather
and http://www.mwis.org.uk/nw.php for mountain specific weather.
You should be prepared to have a back up plan if it's too snowy / cold / windy to camp.
Dec 5, 2012 7:52 AM
7I have used xcweather but don't find it that accurate, think this one is the best, gives you rain, cloud, wind, temp etc on an hourly basis for today: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/forecast/#?tab=map&map=CloudAndRain&fcTime=1354679435&zoom=7&lon=-2.11&lat=52.24
Dec 5, 2012 8:04 AM
8Many people deliberately go to the highlands in February because it is the best time of year for ice climbing. It is actually the driest month of the year in many parts of the west of Scotland, noted for having particularly stable periods of weather, though with the usual winter horrors in between, and of course you have to be prepared for the usual winter horrors. You will have light to about 5pm by Feb.
But clearly the tops, especially very exposed rocky tops like the Cuillin, at this time of year are for people with ice axes etc and who know how to use them. There are lower level walking options and also routes/hills away from the Cuillin ridge that are less rocky/exposed.
You might consider some of the other parts of the mainland Highlands instead, like for example Knoydart, which offer greater options in terms of multi-day treks and more tops that are a bit more accessible without the full winter mountaineering kit, depending upon the weather. However beware of streams that have to be forded, which can get difficult from time to time, whether due to ice or high water levels. You might also like to investigate the bothy system which offers indoor camping possibilities, which is less uncomfortable than winter camping, where all your stuff gets damp and just won't dry.
Dec 5, 2012 8:07 AM
9Note the ground even up hills in Scotland canbe boggy, so you will need gortex boots or similar and gaiters can be a good idea.
Dec 6, 2012 2:08 AM
10Personally I wouldn't contemplate camping in Scotland in February - even if you could find sites open.
Much better to delay your trip for a couple of months when you can experience Skye at its most beautiful.
Dec 21, 2012 7:26 AM
11I can't comment on what Skye is like in February - it was October when I went there - but you may find this link useful for ideas on where to go on the island:
Jan 11, 2013 8:13 PM
Mar 7, 2013 1:10 PM
13There are some free places to hangout at night, if not hostels.. this might help. http://truenomads.com/2013/02/five-things-to-do-on-scotlands-isle-of-skye/
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