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Some questions about camping in Scotland, oh and whisky

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Some questions about camping in Scotland, oh and whisky

Postby Feldrin » Thu Jun 21, 2007 5:14 pm

So me and a friend were planning to make a camp-tour around Scotland, visit a few distilleries on the way, buy some bottles, enjoy the countryside and whatnot.

The problem is, we don’t know squat about…well, almost anything related to almost anything in the previous sentence. So here’s some questions I hope people are capable of answering.

- When is the best time to go? We were planning on going in the winter but it seems that there are hardly any camping’s opened around then and that there are not a lot of hours of sunlight to trek around.

- What is the best way to go? Boats seem quite cheap but only if its off-season, like winter. But then there’s the problems listed above. Airplane seems cheap, up untill the point they add the polution-tax and whatnot and the price suddenly tripples.

- Would I have to pay any extra taxes for ‘importing’ a few bottles? From Scotland to the Netherlands that is. I mean, the stuff should be cheaper over there and carrying around a few bottles will probably add significantly to my feeling of joy and happiness.

- Something about distilleries. If I wanted to have a look around, are they always open to public or are there certain tour-moments or visitor's centers? Any distilleries I'd especially have to visit?

- There seems to be a possibility of wild camping, with certain rules and regulations attached. Anyone know anything about it?

- What would be a good region? I love Islay whisky but we were kinda planning to enjoy some mountains in the highlands. Walking from Islay to the Highlands seems a bit far. And I think Islay deserves a trip on its own.

Any other random tips or snippets of information would also be greatly appreciated. My general knowledge about Scotland probably amounts to ‘that far off holy place they make really really good water of life, oh and mountains'.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Thu Jun 21, 2007 6:06 pm

Hi Feldrin,

I don't know a whole pile about Scotland either but I do know it is quite similar to Ireland but just that everything bit more bigger and extreme and that includes the weather.


- When is the best time to go? We were planning on going in the winter but it seems that there are hardly any camping’s opened around then and that there are not a lot of hours of sunlight to trek around.

There is a reason that camps sites are not open during winter .... because there are not many people willing to battle the elements. You will have alot of rain andif you venture far enough up the highlands snow which is really no place for camping unless your an artic explored :lol:

- What is the best way to go? Boats seem quite cheap but only if its off-season, like winter. But then there’s the problems listed above. Airplane seems cheap, up untill the point they add the polution-tax and whatnot and the price suddenly tripples.

If you are going by boat from Holland where will you land? I believe that a train journey from the south of England up to Scotland is one long trip and could prove to be more expensive than your boat trip :roll:

By plane is great for convienience but it reduces the amount of bottles you can bring back.

- Would I have to pay any extra taxes for ‘importing’ a few bottles? From Scotland to the Netherlands that is. I mean, the stuff should be cheaper over there and carrying around a few bottles will probably add significantly to my feeling of joy and happiness.

As your in 2 EU countries there should be no tax implications but believe it or not Holland has cheaper prices than Scotland (because there is higher duty and tax in UK) .... My other halfs sister lives in Amsterdam and we go each year and I stock up on whisky.

- Something about distilleries. If I wanted to have a look around, are they always open to public or are there certain tour-moments or visitor's centers? Any distilleries I'd especially have to visit?

Sorry can't help here .....

- There seems to be a possibility of wild camping, with certain rules and regulations attached. Anyone know anything about it?

????? :shock: just watch out for hairy animals roaming at night ... the're called Scotts :lol: :lol:

I presume you mean just camping in farmers fields etc ... that is done here in Ireland too ... as long as you ask the land owner and they agree there is usually no problems but finding a land owner in the middle of a mountian can be tricky :lol: Technically state owned parks ban camping but you will get away with it as long as they are not in the middle of a town and you don't litter.

- What would be a good region? I love Islay whisky but we were kinda planning to enjoy some mountains in the highlands. Walking from Islay to the Highlands seems a bit far. And I think Islay deserves a trip on its own.

Sorry out of me dept here also

Any other random tips or snippets of information would also be greatly appreciated. My general knowledge about Scotland probably amounts to ‘that far off holy place they make really really good water of life, oh and mountains'.

Hire a car and at least you can sleep in that if needs be .... not very comfortable but it could save you a few miserable nights and a safe place to stash bottles beside lugging them around. You would be surprised how heavy just 3 extra bottles in your luggage can be..... Also you may not get lifts in the more remote regions in scotland if you need one and people tend to ignore 2 guys with a load of camping gear slung over their shoulders ...

Sound like a great adventure though so if you postpone till spring or go in Autum that may be more favourable.

Good luck what ever you do....
Last edited by irishwhiskeychaser on Thu Jun 21, 2007 6:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Dangerous_Dave » Thu Jun 21, 2007 6:06 pm

IIRC you need to get permission from the landowner to rough camp, but this doesn't seem to stop the buggers in motorhomes. :mrgreen:

May-September is midge season in Scotland but a lot of campsites might be closed outside this time, so you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. if I were you I'd go at the end of the holiday season, if money is an issue.

Most distilleries have a shop or visitor centre. Re: tours, some places you can just turn up, but it's usually better to ring up and book. They will usually have 2 or 3 tours a day, so if you turn up in between tours you might have a long wait.

Islay is lovely, but only has one official campsite (Kintra). Mountainwise, the Paps of Jura are pretty big - though not on the same scale as Ben Nevis etc.
Last edited by Dangerous_Dave on Thu Jun 21, 2007 6:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Feldrin » Thu Jun 21, 2007 6:39 pm

Thanks for the input! Adds some perspective, I'll go have a talk with my friend about this again tonight. Lots of stuff still to discuss.

About the elements and weather, part of me just wants to go battle against them. We weren't planning on making it a relax-only time anyway and had in mind to travel quite a few miles each day. The other part says that it's probably a lot smarter to first go during a more stable season and then next year or so during the winter. To have an upward-slope of diffficulty, instead of starting hard and failing hard.

We were also planning to have some try-outs during the summer here in Holland. Basically, packing up with a lot of heavy stuff and having a look at how far we can get in a day. Depending on that, a lot of plans will have to be adapted.

Our situation doesn't offer a hell of a lot of options. It has to be fairly cheap and since neither of us has a driving license the option of a car is not available. Also, the boat would leave somewhere in Holland (don't quite remember where but that doesn't matter, it's a small country) and would end up in Edinburgh. Which as far as I know is already a nice enough way up in Scotland. The cost of the boat in off-season for two people, to and from Scotland added, was around €120. Airplane seemed quite expensive compared to that.

It's good to know that the whisky-prices over here are already quite cheap. I was expecting something like that when I was going over prices on uk-online shops. But I never really thought about it.

Anyway, I think I'll try to find some other season. Winter seems like a fun idea but not for a first time. Financially it should work out alright I believe. We're not in a rush anyway. Scotland won't swim away.
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:12 pm

Dangerous_Dave wrote:
Islay is lovely, but only has one official campsite (Kintra). Mountainwise, the Paps of Jura are pretty big - though not on the same scale as Ben Nevis etc.


What about the new one at Port Charlotte ? Next to the Port Mor Centre .....
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Postby Dangerous_Dave » Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:40 pm

Spirit of Islay wrote:
Dangerous_Dave wrote:
Islay is lovely, but only has one official campsite (Kintra). Mountainwise, the Paps of Jura are pretty big - though not on the same scale as Ben Nevis etc.


What about the new one at Port Charlotte ? Next to the Port Mor Centre .....


Is that an official campsite? I saw a tent when I took my daughter to the playground but assumed they'd just got permission or whatever. Nice location for it, but they play some dodgy muzak in that café!
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:59 pm

Dangerous_Dave wrote:
Spirit of Islay wrote:
Dangerous_Dave wrote:
Islay is lovely, but only has one official campsite (Kintra). Mountainwise, the Paps of Jura are pretty big - though not on the same scale as Ben Nevis etc.


What about the new one at Port Charlotte ? Next to the Port Mor Centre .....


Is that an official campsite? I saw a tent when I took my daughter to the playground but assumed they'd just got permission or whatever. Nice location for it, but they play some dodgy muzak in that café!


http://www.islandofislay.co.uk/campsite.html
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Re: Some questions about camping in Scotland, oh and whisky

Postby RufusA » Fri Jun 22, 2007 12:30 am

Feldrin wrote:- Something about distilleries. If I wanted to have a look around, are they always open to public or are there certain tour-moments or visitor's centers? Any distilleries I'd especially have to visit?


A good starting point would be the Whisky Mag Directory:

http://www.whiskymag.com/directory/distilleries/

There are links to those who are always open and have visitor centres (usually the big names) and those by appointment. The latter can introduce some real gems with a phone call from an enthusiast resulting in a 4 hour tour in person from the distillery manager.

There are some regulars on the forum who have connections with distilleries, if you are planning a visit it's worth tapping them up to see if they are around. Sometimes they can find bottles of interesting things to try that might not be available to the usual tour guides.

Finally there are plenty of threads discussing distillery visits. Once you decide on which region(s) you are going to be visiting, find which distilleries are in the area, then look on the forum for the inside knowledge on what the distillery is like to visit.

As for transport, I'd be tempted to fly direct to a Scottish airport, hire a car for transport, and then find accomodation near distilleries with transport links - don't drink and drive!

HTH - Rufus.

HTH - Rufus.
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Postby Leither » Fri Jun 22, 2007 9:13 am

Hi Feldrin - there's a new book just been published called Cool Camping Scotland:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cool-Camping-Sc ... 287&sr=8-1

It features some very good and quirky ideas on 'cool' campsites to visit. It includes a stay at Bladnoch Distillery in SW Scotland.

As mentioned by C_I above the SWA have just published a list of distilleries to visit.

I would also point you in the direction of http://www.whiskycoast.com which again is a new initiative between Campbeltown and Islay distilleries.

The best way for you to travel over from Holland on boat (I would advise this way so you can take some more bottles home!) would be from Zeebrugge in Belgium and getting in at a place called Rosyth in Fife (just a short trip from Edinburgh):

http://www.superfast.com/

I work for the tourist board (VisitScotland) so please feel free to PM me if you need anything else. Also that goes for any other forum members, I'd be very happy to help any way I can.
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Postby martin grant » Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:33 am

Sounds like a great trip you have planned Feldrin.
The boat from Zeebrugge to Rosyth (just north of Edinburgh) sounds like a good idea. I'm sure you could take a pushbike on, which would be really handy for travelling around.

If I was you, I would seriously reconsider camping out in the winter. Not just because of the rain, but because it gets mighty cold.

The last couple of years however have seen us blessed with an Indian summer, and September is usually quite pleasant.

If I was you I could consider planning distillery tours around what type of whisky you enjoy yourself. Alternatively, if you're planning on seeing as many as possible why not visit Speyside. Once off the ferry at Rosyth, you've got about 150 miles north to go - but loads of distilleries to visit once you get there. Plenty of friendly B&Bs along the way as well. Also the dreaded midgies aren't so bad up the east side of the country.

Choices choices!
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Postby Feldrin » Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:47 pm

Damnit I love you people. Asking questions feels like digging for gold and finding platinum.

I'll see what I can do in pre-winter. There should be some time off. I'm a student so I should have some vacation somewhere. Winter was the first that sprung to mind but I'm getting more and more convinced that it's better to save that for later. Once I've made up my mind I'll probably post an update. Also, if/when I go, there should sooner or later arrive a plentitude of pictures.

About midgies; where I currently live the council or whatever takes decisions around here thought it'd be a swell idea to dig a big pond next to our apartments. This quickly turned into a breeding ground for pretty much any flying, annoying, stingy lifeform this planet has to offer. So right now the pond is probably busy spewing forth armies of annoyance which shall migrate into my living quarters regardless of anti-immigration policies I have placed at the border (read: windows). Extermination is the only viable option right now and a few nights ago the body count came up to 24. So I think I'm quite used to midgies.

Again, thanks a lot for all the links and books. Especially that 'Cool Camping Scotland' one, I was looking for something similar. It's quite useful to have a booklet while I'm in Scotland because I quite doubt I'll be having a lot of random-internet-access-moments to check stuff.
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Postby martin grant » Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:59 pm

Feldrin wrote:About midgies; where I currently live the council or whatever takes decisions around here thought it'd be a swell idea to dig a big pond next to our apartments. This quickly turned into a breeding ground for pretty much any flying, annoying, stingy lifeform this planet has to offer. So right now the pond is probably busy spewing forth armies of annoyance which shall migrate into my living quarters regardless of anti-immigration policies I have placed at the border (read: windows). Extermination is the only viable option right now and a few nights ago the body count came up to 24. So I think I'm quite used to midgies.


24!!!!! Feldrin you really must visit west coast Scotland. The midgies here are tiny little nippy insects. They are widely available in clouds of thousands at a time and always appear to be attracted to my pale, Scottish, doesn't see much of the sun skin

:lol:
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Postby Leither » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:04 pm

Feldrin - if you plan on a trip to Islay, as you know the 'Mecca' for whisky enthusiasts, and you're on a budget the youth hostel is an inexpensive option.

http://www.syha.org.uk/SYHA/web/site/Ho ... eIslay.asp

Quirky thing about this place is, in fact, that it used to be a whisky warehouse.

Note, however, that it is closed during November - February due to the seasonal nature of the tourism industry in Scotland for some relatively more remote areas (also note many distilleries are closed in this off-season).
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Postby Dangerous_Dave » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:18 pm

And if you go there in a year or so it will look out across the new Port Charlotte distillery - assuming they don't re-acquire the buildings.
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Postby martin grant » Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:45 pm

Cigars are the secret. I'm not a huge smoker, but the smell of smoke really puts off the dreaded midge. Light one for an itch free 20 minutes!

:smoke:
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Postby Leither » Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:48 pm

martin grant wrote:Cigars are the secret. I'm not a huge smoker, but the smell of smoke really puts off the dreaded midge. Light one for an itch free 20 minutes!

:smoke:


Yip, one of the reasons I smoke the occasional ceegar - keeps the wee buggers away.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:55 pm

C_I wrote:I must say, one of Scotland best kept secrets is midges. As I tend to be immune for most musquitos (they may bite, yet I do not feel the effects of it), the midge is a different kind.. When they appear I will feel them crawling on my face and hands, and can feel them biting (gives me a small red mark, which disappears afer half an hour). And they will come in vast amounts.. You say your bodycount is 24 a night... be prepared for at least a bodycount of 24 a minute... The best way to avoid them is keep moving.. Difficult when on a campsite while cooking, or waiting in line for the ferry to complete unloading..

Be afraid... be very afraid!!! :shock: :angel:

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/u ... es/midges/



I think midges are the least of your worries but Martins idea is not that bad :smoke: .... I've done that myself and seems to work but then I've never really been bothered by them either... :smoke:
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Postby les taylor » Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:07 pm

Is the philoshophy if the midges don't get you a smoking related illness will.



:smoke:
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Postby WhiskyBrat » Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:51 pm

Best cure for midges wear a hat and cover it in ferns, granted you'll look like a crap sniper but i assure you it works :thumbsup:

You could also try smoking like Telly Savalas but the ferns may go on fire and set your head alight :smoke:
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Jun 23, 2007 5:54 am

I always go in October, and have never encountered midges.

The great thing about the hostel in Port Charlotte is that it's down the street from the Port Charlotte Hotel, best pub in Islay.

Think of your first trip as a learning experience--keep an open mind, don't expect too much, go for the sake of it, and to get an idea of what you'll want to do on the second and third trips. I'm planning my tenth now....
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Camping in Scotland

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sun Jun 24, 2007 2:42 am

Feldrin:
Not sure what a "midge" is, I suspect it either what we refer to as "blackflies" or the dreaded tiny "No-see-ums". Use a good quality bug juice (with DEET) and sit close to a smoky campfire. Remember to spray DEET on your ankles/socks, as they love to land and feast there. Light long sleeved clothing and a netted headgear for bad infestations work well. Also, don't eat Bananas as the oil doesn't break down and tends to exude through your skin and attract bugs (learned that from working for the Forestry Service as a teenager).

You might want to intersperse your camping with a stay at the odd B&B (see the book "Off the beaten track" for locations. Gives you a chance to shower and sleep in a normal bed. Any respectable B&B will call ahead for you to the next location to help arrange a stay.

If you really want to camp in the wilderness, you could do no better than coming across the pond and camp along the TransCanada Highway that skirts Lake Superior. No distilleries, but the spectacular scenery and friendly people pretty much make up for that.

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Postby Onefortheditch » Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:40 am

There is lots of good scenery in Scotland, but for me the best is in Skye. The combination of the sky, the cuillins and the sea can be very atmospheric indeed.

If you go in May, you will be there before the midges come oot!

(And Talisker is also quite handy.)
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:58 am

Onefortheditch wrote:
If you go in May, you will be there before the midges come oot!


Not necessarily so ! We've been attacked at the end of May at the Condensers Ball during the festival !


When we were over for the Festival there was a bottle of a cosmetic product in the Bathroom provided by the owners with a label stuck over it saying "Anti-midge repellent , use but do not remove" . The said product was Avons Skin-So-Soft Soft & Fresh Dry Oil Body Spray , we were a bit sceptical about it as we'd try other products and seen the midges laughing in our face (they were flying through the Candle that was supposed to reject them !) .
We mentioned it to a few people during the festival and they said yes it works , someone even said the Royal Marines use it !
Royal Marines using Avon Beauty products ?
But it's True......
http://heritage.scotsman.com/ingenuity.cfm?id=1819182005
So 2 bottles have been ordered from the Avon Site for our stay at the Bunnahabhain Cottages !
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Postby Onefortheditch » Sun Jun 24, 2007 2:45 pm

Midges in May!! It must be this global warming.....which seems to have forgotten to get to Inverness this summer as May and June have been wet and fairly cold.

On saying that May is one of the dryest months in the north west Scotland climate.

Anyone coming to Scotland should have a dry and wet plan though, e.g. hill walking and visiting distilleries, because the weather is too unpredictable over more than a few days in advance.

I heard about Skin So Soft recently and will have to get my wife to buy it. Sounds as if it works!!
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Sun Jun 24, 2007 3:17 pm

It was either 2005 or 2006 , can't remember which but they gave the Islay Pipe band some stick in the Bunnie filling store as well as everyone else !
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Postby Wave » Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:08 pm

I learned about Avons Skin-So-Soft trick from the locals in Golspie (just south of Brora) several years ago. It works! Imagine a product that keeps the midges away and is a skin moisturizer too, it can't get too much better than that!


Cheers!
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Postby Dangerous_Dave » Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:35 pm

We've been to Islay twice, both in the weeks just after Feis Ile (start of June). In 2006 we hardly noticed any insects at all, but in 2007 there were millions of the buggers. I suspect it was because last year was a bit drier. My Mrs seems to be particularly bothered by them (dunno if she gets bitten more or is just allergic to it) but this year was particularly bad - she was covered in lumps (mostly round the ankles as mentioned above) and received a Cleg (horse fly) bite that made her left eye swell up and required medical attention. I have passed the Avon tip to her. She reckons one of the worst incidents occurred at the mouth of the stream (presumably the Margadale) at Bunnahbhain so interested it got mentioned again here.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jun 25, 2007 6:17 am

Skin-So-Soft as an insect repellent has been well-known for many years. Me dear old Mum used the stuff when I was a wee bairn, and I recall it being discussed then.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:49 am

Well of course "skin so soft" works. No self respecting Hard Man Scottish Midge is ever going near an Avon product!
Folklore has it that the peaceful Picts used to farm midges for cattle fodder. However, as the world changed their use was soon converted into a 10th century WMD in order to tackle the Roman invasion and Pictish scientists developed a new strain of beastie, which had three mouths capable of immense destruction.
However, as was ever thus, Man's interference with nature brought nought but woe as some of these creatures of the devil escaped and inhabited a lonely islet just off the west coast of what is now Scotland. They bred with wasps and hedgehogs and over time became the ultimate indestructible killing machine, destined to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting 20th century sons and daughters of their creators......................

but don't let that put you off camping. :lol:
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:55 am

Excellent Criefy :lol: :lol: :lol:

Oh but you forgot the bit that if you manage to kill one two of the blighters take it's place :wink:


It's very much a catch 22 situatiuon for the camper too ..... set up tent near cover, long grass, river, hedge row etc and they are all over you .... set up in an open area and your tent may well end up all over Scotland :lol:
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:35 pm

IWC - Compliment returned :lol:
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