In the UK the telephone number for the Ambulance, Police and Fire Service is 999. This number can also be used for mountain rescue, cave rescue and the Lifeguard if needed. It is worth mentioning that when visiting from Europe it is a good idea to bring your European Health Insurance Card.
Coast, Rivers and Lochs
With more than 6,000 miles of coastline, Scotland is definitely a country with no shortage of water-ways, from deep fresh water lochs to winding rivers and burns. The weather can change rapidly and the water levels can change dramatically in a short space of time that can catch you unawares; the river levels can rise and the tides change course and leave you stranded on rocks cut off from the beach, with only cliffs around you. It is advisable to exercise caution when faced with water.
Hiking is an exciting and breathtaking experience – particularly at the top of the ridge. The weather in Scotland is as unpredictable as the tides, particularly in the wilder places, and often people can find themselves needing rescue on hikes. The mountain rescue service is predominantly staffed by volunteers, operating on the authorisation of the Police. Keep people informed of your whereabouts, hotels and Bed and breakfasts will normally request this information – they are not being nosy and it may just save your life. Keep a small first aid kit with you at all times and if backpacking or camping notify family or friends of you route and current location at each stop.
Sterling notes of £5, £10 and £20 are fine for travelling however £50 notes may be harder to use in rural areas or on trains, where people don’t carry enough change. Some change given in Scotland will be in Scottish notes and this will vary from the English counterpart.
The dreaded Scottish Midge! You will look the part and be grateful for the fashion faux pas when sporting your midge head net, jacket and/or trousers. These little critters, will eat you alive given the chance and can ruin a lovely trip from one unprotected evening. Check out our midge questions and answers page for everything you need to know about this ‘delightful’ national bug.
Hiking through marshes and heather can leave you exposed to picking up unwanted passengers. Ticks attach themselves to your clothes and then find an opening to creep over your skin and attach in a warm crevice, such as elbows or behind knees and begin their feeding. Whilst treated socks or tick repellent can prevent them, we do have a range of tick removers should they get attached.
As diverse and beautiful as the landscape, from whales, sharks seals and dolphins to red squirrels, pine martin, deer and very rare – the Scottish wildcat. Proceed with caution though as the deer can be unpredictable particularly on the roads, if spooked they may jump in front of you. Exercise particular caution in October as this is the breeding season for the red deer and the males can become aggressive, so observe at a safe distance.
Camping, access and the right to roam
Scotland has accepting and liberal attitudes to roaming and camping allowing visitors to explore the landscape freely. There may be some bylaws in certain areas that prevent camping so best to research your route. Some areas are used by the military or for hunting however these will be marked with flags so keep your eyes peeled. In the moorlands it can be dangerous to light fires at certain times of the year as the heather can act as tinder and spread quickly.
Scottish people are friendly and with small villages and towns it is not difficult to spot tourists. Take the time to greet people you pass in the street with a simple ‘hello’ or ‘how are you’, just ignoring someone would be considered as rude.