Thursday, 30 June 2011


This is the definition of a Highland Midge (known as midgies in Scotland) from wikipedia- a species of small flying insect, found in upland and lowland areas especially in the north west of Scotland from late spring to late summer. Female Highland midges are well known for gathering in clouds and biting humans, and are the smallest flies in Scotland to do soThey are generally regarded as pests.

In other words, take a mosquito, make it much smaller (so that it can get through mosquito netting) and impervious to insect repellent and you have a midgie. They can take an amazing weekend for camping and turn it in to a battle for blood, literally. 

We'd heard about these nasty bugs and knew to be on the lookout for them. Our first camping adventure (as you saw from our previous post) was a rousing success. Over the course of the two nights we saw a few midgies and had a couple of bites but were never really disturbed. 

It made for a miserable day
But then we decided to camp for a second time. As Erin's parents were in town we decided to visit the Isle of Mull. Erin's parents stayed in a bed and breakfast so we decided to rough it for one night, how hard could that be? Unfortunately we didn't know then what we know now, how to protect yourself from these cursed insects. Rule number one - midgies can't survive more than a 6 mph wind. Rule number two - avoid standing water. Rule number three - don't stay near trees which provide protection for them. So, where did we decide to pitch our tent? In a parking area surrounded by trees where no wind could reach us and there were puddles of standing water all around. As we were setting up the tent and getting ready for bed we noticed a few bugs but nothing overwhelming. However, by morning, all four corners of the tent had thousands of midgies collected inside and out. As we noticed all the bites we had received during the night we decided to hurry and break camp. Making things worse, as we started folding the tent all six million midgies in the area decided to attack in unison. We spent half an hour going back and forth between folding a few feet of the tent and running away from the black swarm. We were covered with midgie bites and by the time we had everything in the car, including ourselves, we found many had followed us in. We spent another 15 minutes driving as fast as we could with all the windows open trying to drive them out. 

I highly recommend Coleman tents.
Fortunately this experience taught us the three rules regarding midgies so this past weekend as we went camping again we were able to make sound decisions on where to set up camp. I found a lovely place on top of a mountain in the Cairngorm National Park that was perfect. Although, sometime around 3am it became a little too perfect. I'll let the picture speak for itself on what the wind was doing to our tent. Needless to say the winds were just a tad over 6 mph. My fear of midgies caused me to slightly overshoot the needed windspeed. 
The next night we were able to find a calmer area that had no standing water and wasn't too close to trees. The mix of rain and manure all around us did make for an interesting morning though. 

I guess having one bad night out of four is ok and all in all, we've had fantastic and very memorable camping experience in Scotland. It was a bit sad to pack the tent and sleeping bags up for the final time before they make their return to Texas in a couple weeks when my family takes them home for us. 

1 comment:

  1. TOO FUNNY!!!! (and sorry for your loss of blood.)