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I am an experienced hiker/hillwalker and plan to tackle the Trotternish Ridge on Skye , possibly a few other coastal walks, whilst also taking a reconnaissance look at The Cuillin. My plan is to spent 4-5 days on the island with wild camping for 3 of them.

Although an experienced hiker and Team Medic I have not spent a great deal of time between 600m and 1200m in Scotland. Would May be an optimum month?

I understand that the primary concerns would be

  • The Scottish Midge
  • Changeable weather patterns made worse by coastal conditions

I am hoping to have the best chance of

  • Low rainfall
  • Excellent morning and evening light for photography
  • Dry ground

I am not particularly concerned with cold climate as I have the experience and equipment; however I get grumpy if I am not dry or being bitten. ;-)

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    Might I suggest going there with the expectation that it will be raining, so you're not disappointed? I took a vacation to both Ireland and Scotland with this outlook, and had a lot of fun hiking and seeing sights despite frequent rains on both trips (With the few beautiful days being all the more wonderful). – C Bauer Jan 2 '15 at 15:51
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    Indeed, I was born in Dundee - I am well prepared for the inevitable downpours haha. – Venture2099 Jan 2 '15 at 15:52
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    If you're on Skye & like wildlife, you should head over to the West Coast, where there are large populations of otters that can be quite easily seen. – kittylyst Jan 2 '15 at 18:21
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You're going to have to take a chance. The west coast of Scotland (where Skye is) is the wettest part of the UK. If you're up there for 5 days, it might rain everyday regardless of time of year.

That said, statistically, the driest time of the year is between March and May. This also has the advantage of being out of midgy season. I don't believe that Skye is badly affected by midgies; the sea wind tends to keep them down (when compared to, for example, the central highlands anyway)

I spent a week on Skye a couple of years ago, in about March. It rained about 50% of the time, but the weather was warm and we walked in the Cullin's and Trotternish but we weren't camping.

May would likely be a good month, though you're likely just as good either side of that, i.e. Apr-Jun. Be prepared for being wet still. As a backup I'd look into the youth hostels (there are several in Portree). That way you've got a good backup to get dry if worst comes to the worst.

  • Perfect - thanks Liam. Any routes you recommend? – Venture2099 Jan 2 '15 at 10:50
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    We mainly walked the Cullin's. Any of them are amazing! One of my favourite mountain ranges. Quite serious peaks but not undoable. I've always fancied going back and wild-camping in the centre of them, they form a natural barrier so you can only get into the centre by going over the peaks or getting boat. You should probably watch this video to get a good feel for the place! Have fun! :) – user2766 Jan 2 '15 at 10:57
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    I'm currently planning the Skye Trail for late May. It's not a marked trail but there's an excellent Harvey map that shows a route to cover the entire ridge from Kilmaluag to Portree and a Cicerone guide too. – Chris J Jan 10 '15 at 23:44
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    Your comment about the midges is completely wrong. Skye is arguably the worst place in Scotland for midges. They would generally appear sometimes around the second to third week in May and start to get really bad as one heads into June. Yes, you can pray for a bit of wind, but I wouldn't rely on it. But anyway - I'd go with your recommendation of April/early-mid May. – Rob Jeffries Oct 24 '15 at 21:23
  • I've only been to skye in the late winter so I wasn't sure @RobJeffries, Amended now – user2766 Oct 26 '15 at 8:35
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tricky,

Rain - Scotland is pretty wet but May and June look to be your best bet.

Light - Skye gets very long summer days which stretch out the 'golden hour', the summer solstice is in June

Midges - apparently the first midges start hatching May-June, unfortunately the best time to go to avoid them is winter but this isn't the best time for your other interests.

Bonus route suggestions - The Clach Glas Traverse is a good choice for those working their way towards the Cuillan Traverse.

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