I am planning to attend a business event in Linlithgow, Scotland in late September. I'm thinking of taking a few days off afterwards and I'd be interested in recommendations for day hiking/easy climbing (scrambling up to YDS class 3) within a couple hours train ride and/or drive. I have multiday backpacking equipment and technical rock and ice climbing gear, but I'm not sure how much gear it will be practical for me to bring, so I'm thinking of limiting myself to day hiking and scrambling. Of course if there were huts or hostels located in such a way that I could get away with a multiday trip with a small pack, sleeping bag, and maybe a small stove, that could work as well. I gather the Cairngorms are within 100 miles or so and would be a great destination, but more specific suggestions would be welcome. Thanks!
Hi Looking at where you are from, I guess this may be your first visit to Scotland? It is certainly a beautiful place and the highlands quite unique - and then big regional variations within the highlands - e.g. west is the Grampions (more rugged - Ben Nevis, Glencoe etc - but wetter), east is Cairngorms (more remote, not so rugged, drier) and then the far north (Torridan etc - even more remote and quite rugged sometimes in quite a bizarre kind of way). If you are not familiar with Scotland - beware the secret weapon, which affects all 3 regions (in my experience).. Midges. If you want more info on those then read my TR 'Of vampires, mountains and men: Scottish Highlands 2010'. This was in the Grampions in the west - last September - which is supposed to be late for midges... It wasn't! The locals blamed the previous harsh winter. Well winter 2010/11 was even harsher (see my next TR 'Scottish Highlands 2010 revisited etc') - so what I am saying is pack some insect repellent!!
If you want info on scrambling... In my biased opinion Glencoe and Ben Nevis have some worthy scrambles and from easy to very hard rock-climbs. This area is slightly closer to where you will be than Cairgorms, but across to the west. Castle Ridge on the Ben is 'just' a rock climb, but a very long one (500m at a guess) with route finding issues and potentially quite serious in bad weather as it tops out close to the top of the Ben - which is as high as you can get in the UK (1340m, 4406ft). Carn Mor Dearg arete on the Ben is a pleasant easy scramble with terrific views. My favourite scramble of all is curved ridge on Buchaile Etive Mor, in Glencoe - about 15-20 miles by road from Ben Nevis - or you can link the two places easily inside say a 3-4 day back packing trip (again see my TR, which followed part of this route)that would enable you to do both scrambles weather permitting. Curved ridge is half the length of Castle Ridge but similar difficulty (hard scramble/easy rock-climb), so around 2-300m and finshes close to the top of the Buchaile at around 1000m. There is another very good scramble in the Buchaile - which I have never done as I keep doing the other one, it is so good. Anyway - I have seen both Castle Ridge and Curved Ridge in 'routes' on SP - have a look. You may well find other good routes as well.
Torridan is superb by the way - some fantastic climbs and scrambles - but it is much further to reach, up in the far north.
Good luck - and best of luck with the weather... and the Midges, Mark
Thanks for the suggestions! They will be a good basis for further research and planning.
Yes, this will be my first trip to Scotland. The extent of my hiking in the British Isles has been some dayhikes in Western Ireland, unless a couple days of walking around London counts. Thanks for the warning about midges - does picardin work against them? I've been using that lately in preference to DEET for mosquito repellant as I find it doesn't dissolve plastic (unlike DEET).
There a good few peaks that will be quite close by when you're here. Ben Ledi just past Callander is a good peak or a bit further up the road there's the two peaks of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin. Stuc a'Chroin's northeast face provides a good section of scrambling. Further north Schiehallion, just west of Pitlochry, is a good popular peak and there is also a good variety of peaks in the Ben Lawers Range. Obviously the further north you go (or west) the more options there are, it just depends how far you are willing to travel.
I'm happy to try and help if you need any specifics for a particular peak that you may have in mind or like the sound of, just drop me a PM.