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All things hiking Explaining Scotland Suggested things to do

Scottish Weather – planning your visit.

Scottish weather has it’s own reputation. Everyone who comes to visit seems to be prepared to be cold and wet. Many are pleasantly surprised when they come to stay with us. Scotland has a great many ambassadors who spread the world all over the world but there’s no getting away from the fact that it is a green and beautiful land and that green comes at a price sometimes. However, it is possible to minimise the effect a poor weather day could have on your vacation.

A quick comparison between a relief map of Scotland and the annual rainfall map shows a very close correlation.  The higher you go the higher the annual rainfall. The altitude of the land can change considerably in a single mile and so can the amount of rainfall both on an annual and daily basis depending on the prevailing wind direction.

The point is, the Scottish Highlands are packed with micro climates and by jumping in the car and placing big mountains between you and the prevailing wind direction, you can massively improve the weather you’ll experience for your day.  It can be the difference between frequent heavy down pours and sunshine with the odd very light shower. If active frontal systems are sweeping across the country, well you’re probably going to experience some kind of precipitation at some point wherever you are but if they’ve all passed through and it’s just an air-stream scenario then some judicious planning can pay handsome dividends.

scottish weather - rainfall map

An example of managing the weather

I remember turning up at a house in Glenfeshie one April. I was to guide the group of ladies up from the London area. The forecast for the N. Cairngorms was not good: 70 mph NE winds, blizzards above 800m and torrential rain. I arrived to the gutters overflowing but having studied the weather closely I suggested we jump into the cars for an hour and drive around to Pitlochry on the leeward side of the range to do Ben Vrackie.  The suggestion wasn’t greeted with any enthusiasm and possibly a certain amount of doubt but the thought of an hour in a dry bus was better than an extra hour walking in the heavy rain.

As soon as we passed over Drumochter Pass the weather started to improve (as is often the case) and by the time we got around to Pitlochry we were in sunshine to the comment of “Andy, haven’t you done well”.  We had clear views from the summit, albeit in a strong bitter wind. On passing back over the pass we drove back into the bad weather. ‘Had it been wet and horrible all day’ I asked Rebecca, my partner. “Yes’ was the answer.

scottish weather map


4 tips to get the most out of your visit to the Highlands:


Closely follow the weather forecasts

The prevailing weather/wind direction makes a big difference. If there’s bad weather on the way make sure you’re on the sheltered lee side of big mountain ranges. One of the most common comments made by visitors is how changeable the weather is.Don’t judge the days’ weather by what’s happening at breakfast.


Remain flexible

So when it comes to planning your tour, if you can remain flexible and not book things too far in advance it can often make a big difference. Avoiding the high season from the middle ofJuly until the end of August can be a big help in this regard. April & May can produce some of the best weather.


Base yourself in the North East

The vast majority of Scotland’s bad weather comes in from the south and west. You will notice the east side of the country is considerably drier than the west. In fact the west coast ofScotlandcan receive up to 3 times the annual rainfall of the east. So by basing yourself, for example, in Strathspey or in the North East side of the Cairngorms National Park you can often greatly increase your chances of experiencing better weather. Also, with easy access to the main road routes to Ullapool in the North West Highlands and Fort William in the West Highlands are only 1hr 40mins and 1hr 30mins away respectively from Aviemore it’s easy to make a foray into these areas.


Book an Adventure Guide

This is you buying into in-depth local knowledge of suitable locations with regards to the weather conditions. Adventure activities also provide you with the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beautiful landscapes and amazing wildlife of the Scottish Highlands.

Adventure Tour Operators in Scotland

Scot Mountain Holidays

Wilderness Scotland

Highlands and Islands Adventures (mountain biking specialists)

WOW Scotland


Walking holiday providers in Scotland

Scot Mountain Holidays


About Argyll

Walkabout Scotland



Are you struggling to find the right travel insurance?

When it comes to planning an adventure holiday, we often overlook the hidden gems of the UK. Here in Scotland plenty of adventure is on offer;

Whether this is your first adventure holiday or you’re an avid explorer, you need to make sure you have the right travel insurance. Making sure you have the right travel insurance will ensure you are able to enjoy your trip. You’ll have peace of mind that should the worst happen – you will be covered.

Many believe travel insurance is solely for overseas holidays. Unfortunately even in the UK there’s still a chance you may need to cancel the trip or return home early. The cost of a UK adventure holiday can soon add up; what with the travel expenses, accommodation, food expenses and excursions. You’ll want to make sure you protect that investment.

walking in Scotland

On top of the world

Understanding travel insurance

The guys over at Travel Insurance Explained understand how tricky it can be to understand the jargon of the travel insurance industry. They have given us some key points to look out for when buying a suitable adventure holiday policy.

Most policies will offer cover for pre-booked UK holidays of two nights or more. Usually these include cover for cancellation, medical expenses and personal possessions as standard.

TIP: When selecting your policy, make sure the cover level is suitable. If you have paid £1000 per person for your holiday, then the cover level should match this. If you chose a policy with an inadequate level of cover you could find yourself out of pocket. Should you need to make a claim most insurers will only pay up to the stated cover level.

So, how about covering the activities? Under standard travel insurance a select number of activities will be covered, and most policies will allow you to add on those that are slightly more dangerous for an additional premium.

where to go in the Highlands

Restrictions on adventure travel insurance

It is important to note; most policies will have a height restriction on certain activities. For example, mountaineering up to 1000m may be covered as standard; however, climbing higher could require an additional premium. Likewise, leisure cycling may be covered but off-road biking may not. Always check with your tour guide to make sure you are aware of the heights and activities you will be participating in and if you are unsure, call your travel insurance provider to clarify the right level of cover.

Generally speaking, standard travel insurance policies will not offer cover for sports equipment. Having said that, there are more specialist sports travel insurance policies available or you could simply look for a company which offers a ‘sports equipment extension’ for an additional premium.

If this is something that is not offered by your policy either look for one that will cover this or check your personal possession cover on your home insurance. We always recommend checking your policy wording carefully to make sure you are buying a policy that covers all your needs.

Once the travel insurance is out the way, you are free to enjoy your break and truly get your teeth stuck into some adventure – enjoy!

mountain biking in Scotland

Enjoy the wild parts of the UK out on your bike


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