Dangers & Annoyances


Forget Nessie, the Highlands have a real monster: a voracious bloodsucking female fully 3mm long named the Highland midge (Culicoides impunctatus). The bane of campers and as much a symbol of Scotland as the kilt or dram, they drive sane folk to distraction, descending in biting clouds.

Though normally vegetarian, the female midge needs a dose of blood in order to lay her eggs. And, like it or not, if you're in the Highlands between June and August, you just volunteered as a donor. Midges especially congregate near water, and are most active in the early morning, though squadrons also patrol in the late evening.

Repellents and creams are reasonably effective, though some walkers favour midge veils. Light-coloured clothing also helps. Many pubs and campsites have midge-zappers. Check www.smidgeup.com/midge-forecast for activity levels by area, but don't blame us: we've been eaten alive when the forecast said moderate, too.