Avoid Midges in Scotland

Stay inside a lot!

It is possible to avoid midges in Scotland. East coast places, windy headlands, hill-tops and city-centres should be clear of these notorious biting insects. 

Six Places (Or More) To Go To Stay Clear Of Midges

Your trip to Scotland is fixed but you’ve heard stories about these little biting insects. You’d ideally like to avoid the midges in case and they spoil your experience?

Read this site’s wide-ranging midge page (link also below) and you can tell I am in two minds about how much of a problem midges are.

However, if you intend to visit Scotland, here is my list of the top places for a midge-free Scotland visit.

Cruachan Power Station
So, from the air, here’s a view of Cruachan – the Hollow Mountain – Visitor Centre. Woods and water? At first sight looks like classic midge country. But wait – they drive you into the mountain, down a tunnel to a great big turbine hall. No midges there – promise. Photo: ScottishPower.

Cruachan – The Hollow Mountain

Near Oban, Argyll.

On the road to Oban, by Loch Awe, there’s a visitor centre, shop and cafe, with easy parking.

But – listen up – all this leads to a great cavern, the turbine hall (or Machine Hall), which is reached by a tunnel (with a roadway) and looks like a James Bond film set. It was (and is) Scotland’s first pumped storage hydro-electric scheme.

You can visit on a tour, going down a slope into the mountain on a wee bus for 1.1 km (getting on for three-quarters of a mile) to a viewing gallery.

It’s a guided tour and it’s fascinating. And, I reckon, you should be able to avoid the villainous midge down there. (The tour takes half an hour.) 

En route to the Machine Hall, Cruachan - no midges here.
This is a view of the tunnel en route to the Machine Hall in Cruachan – the Hollow Mountain. As well as being midge-free, I think this qualifies as an all-weather attraction. Photo: ScottishPower.

“I do hereby nominate the Ben Cruachan Power Station Machine Hall tour as the place in Scotland where you are least likely to be bitten by midges.”

— (Hey, that’s quite an accolade.)

To be honest…from this point on, unless I include other underground experiences, I feel on less secure ground. No guarantees given, that’s for sure.

Kinnaird Head - castle converted to lighthouse
Castle at Kinnaird Head, Fraserburgh, converted into a lighthouse, now part of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses

(Pictured) It’s pretty breezy up there on the tower of the old Kinnaird Head Lighthouse in Fraserburgh, part of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses. There won’t be a midge for miles. Honest.

Museum Of Scottish Lighthouses

Fraserburgh

Another visitor centre might be a good bet, so let’s nominate the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses at Fraserburgh – especially when you get to visit the actual lighthouse.

It’s so breezy up there on the tower of the old Kinnaird Head Lighthouse and there is so much sea to east and north that it’s unlikely that any midge would get up enough flying speed to reach you.

Besides, they tend not to fly (or attack) more than 10ft (3 metres) above the ground. This is just one of the many facts you can learn on our unmissable main Scottish midge page. Anyway, more suggestions below…

No midges at Spey Bay?
Best wander down to the shore, just to be safe from any passing biting insect…this is Spey Bay, Moray, where the River Spey reaches the sea.

Spey Bay

Moray

OK, it’s likely that the top of a lighthouse on an exposed headland isn’t great midge habitat. So let’s stay by the coast.

About 60 miles / 96km west from the Moray Firth’s turning point at Kinnaird Head, Fraserburgh, is the River Spey.

It reaches the sea in a confusion of shingle-banks and reed-beds. It’s osprey and dolphin country.

But it’s these long stretches of shingle that might be of interest. You could scrunch down at low tide to the sea-edge, keeping an eye open for those elusive dolphins, of course.

Watch terns dive in summer, maybe ospreys too. There should be fine views of the Caithness coast to the north.

And no biting midges, as a breeze might be blowing. Yes, I think the shingle-banks at Spey Bay should be all right – just about. But don’t wander very far upriver on a calm evening without some deterrent…(even if it is the Speyside Way!)

Ashton Lane - a midge-free zone in Glasgow
Cafe society, Glasgow style…the famous Ashton Lane, behind Byres Road in the West End. Hand on heart, I can say I’ve never been bitten by anything here…seldom stung even by the café prices.

It’s in the heart of Scotland’s largest city. There’s little or no standing water and soft peat for miles around, so you’re bound to be fine here.

Wear perfume and aftershave without adding Smidge that Midge to the cocktail. (Though it’s our recommended midge deterrent. The link goes to Amazon.)

Sit outside with impunity to watch the locals go by…Ashton Lane in Glasgow can safely be taken as a symbol of the inner-city places that should be OK, at least comparatively speaking.

Rose Street in Edinburgh would also work. Think inner city, heavily built up, away from parkland etc. You’ll be fine.

Berwick-upon-Tweed's midge-free pier
To avoid midges in Scotland, sometimes you have to go to England. Here’s a very long pier at Berwick-upon-Tweed. It’s almost Scotland though.

The End Of The Pier
At Berwick-Upon-Tweed

England.

But, I hear you say, that isn’t in Scotland. All right, I know. But regular readers are probably already aware of our soft spot for this handsome little town in the far north of England, that has actually been in Scotland for part of its long history.

Now, Berwick-upon-Tweed has got impressive town walls, a good art exhibition centre and lots more – but it’s also got a very long pier. I suggest you stroll along to the end of it. Not a midge will you encounter. And there’s a fine view back towards the town.

Maybe no midges t St Andrews Castle
St Andrews Castle. Midge free? Well, statistically less likely than many other places to the west and north anyway. I think that’s as far as I am able to go here.

This castle is on the edge of the sea, it’s got a long history and a bottle dungeon from which escape is impossible (if the jailer has taken the ladder away).

It even has a unique experience: a unique mine and counter-mine, left over from a 16th-century siege, that you can crawl through. It’s altogether a top Scottish historical experience.

And I’m pretty sure it probably hasn’t got midges – again because of the slightly exposed sea-edge location.

The town of St Andrews, come to think of it, has a breezy, maritime air about it, and it feels a long way from the Highlands – so midge numbers must be low. Yet another reason for visiting.

In Conclusion – Where To Go To Escape Scottish Midges

From these examples of locations in Scotland where you might travel, enjoy, and sit outside in peace without being pestered by small biting flies, you can see a pattern emerging.

It’s quite simple: there’s a bias towards the east side of Scotland and also the coast.

In other words:  away from wet peaty soils to places that often enjoy a sea breeze. Another category could be added: mountain tops, except you have to get there usually by expending a lot of energy.

Finally, the middle of cities are not normally associated with clouds of midges – so I’m confident on that one too.

Bad places for midges

Thinking back over the years: I’ve been eaten alive on woodland walks west of Banchory, on Deeside, and driven to distraction further upriver, beyond the Linn of Dee.  In the west, Glen Torridon can be horrendous.

The path to the mountain Suilven from Inverkirkaig, the carpark at Stac Pollaidh, the island of Jura…round the point from Arisaig, all along the shore from Inverie in Knoydart – the list goes on…bad language on the sacred isle of Iona, endless scratching in the far-too-popular Glen Etive (thanks again, Mr Bond).

And these are just a few of the occasions I could list.

In short, name me a Highland rural location by forest or loch, wet moor or peat-land on a still night in summer – and I’ll recommend the Smidge that Midge or even the Avon Skin So-Soft. You’re going to need it.