Scotland with a bag on your head / by Rama Geeves

Coming from New Zealand, Scotland really feels like home. Tall, glacial cut Monroes (aka mountains), lush green scenery. It's an outdoor enthusiast dream. Every hill begs to be climbed, valleys plead to be explored, ridge lines quietly whisper “traverse me, traverse me” mantra like. There are so many sights to inspire the humble tramper to the avid mountaineer.

Thus the adventure would begin.  Four girls in a car packed to the brim with every concievable piece of equipment, to fulfill most any adventure that comes our way. We had wetsuits, rock climbing gear, hiking boots, sleeping bags, stoves, mandolins, guitars and of course Settlers of Catan for those poor weather days. Anyone who has spent any time in this fair and bonny part of the world knows that this is more than possible that the skies will offer a deluge in the middle of summer, it is probable.

Armed with this arsenal of fun things, good company and high spirits, what could possibly hinder our search for quality, fun times?

Our travel to the mecca of fun (the Torridon mountains) was somewhat hindered by a police road block at our desired turning. A detour was marked, and taken, and before long, we saw our first signs to Plockton. This, to clarify, was not our destination. It was vaguely in the direction we wanted to be, thus reassuring us we were on the right track. Settling in to further solving the worlds problems, we suddenly found ourselves crossing the Skye bridge. This, for those of you who don't know the geography of Scotland, was most definitely not in the direction we wanted to go! Back across the bridge, more signs to Plockton, and we chased our tails for some time in a Merry go Round with every sign encountered pointing us towards Plockton!  

As a result of this frivolity, it was quite late before we arrived at our first campsite. We wearily unpacked the oh so carefully tetrised car, chose the flattest, least boggy place to pitch tent and got stuck in to setting up camp.

The invasion was swift, silent and merciless. They were much better prepared than we were. Within seconds we were surrounded. Their attack was coordinated, efficient but most of all sustained. Midges attack! If you are at this point scratching your head questioning what this could possibly be about, let me explain. Midges are tiny little bugs that swarm in their thousands to suck at the blood of unsuspecting tourists, or any exposed skin, they don't seem to discriminate. The pernicious little buggers covered us from head to foot as we hastily, and noisily erected the tent and stumbled inside. We fell into dreamless, restless sleep, hampered by rain that pooled at the corners of the tent, which as a result of being put it up in such haste, was NOT done in the most rainproof manner.

Unbeknowst to the slumbering girls, achingly curled in the foetal position to avoid the pool that was slowly encroaching on the horizontal space, the midges were rallying more troops. All night they gathered in numbers, surrounding our tent and making escape impossible. The attack was three dimensional. We awoke in the morning, not just to soggy sleeping bags and swollen eyes from a poor nights sleep, but to thousands, and there is no exaggeration here, thousands of them swarming the fly netting. The only way forward was to send a sacrifical lamb to the slaughter to retrieve armaments, aka a bag for your head.

And for the next week, this bag was never far from my reach. The only way to avoid midges is to move. Not just from toe to toe, but in a forwards motion at a good clip. As soon as you stop the invasion starts again. I have snorted more of the little blighters than I would like to admit. The bag was a life saver. Nothing could save my exposed skin, but at least I wasn't breathing them anymore!

The midge bag is an essential piece of kit to take to a spectacularly beautiful country.  Once you have the correct equipment, it is a country that should not be missed.  Thanks to three beautiful girls who helped keep me sane and showed me some amazing places!!