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Necessities for August and cell phone coverage?

Advice on necessities for trip first two weeks of August (loch lomond, north coast 5000, skye, glencoe, cairngorms).  I've looked up the average temps and know hiking boots, raincoats, layers.  But would we need rainboots, or gloves stuff like that?  Also data coverage (for map apps) usually pretty good in these areas or no?  Thanks in advance for any thoughts!!


  • VisitScotlandHeatherVisitScotlandHeather Member ✭✭✭
    Hello @ita360

    I wouldn't rely on your phone for navigation as signal can definitely be patchy in remote areas, it's best to use a good old fashioned map if you're going off the beaten track.

    In terms of rain boots, it would depend on what you were planning to do, if you're going hill walking then good sturdy boots are a much better option.  Gloves don't take up much room so I'd probably just shove a pair in my pocket just in case as the wind can be chilly if you're in an exposed area.

    Enjoy your trip!
  • LeodhasachLeodhasach Member ✭✭
    Like Heather says signal can be patchy so I'd make sure and have paper maps handy. In terms of data coverage Vodafone are probably the most reliable on the whole (Mountain Rescue prefer Vodafone) although Three seem to be better in some Highland areas when it comes to 3g/4g. 

    What kind of things are you planning to do? A general idea of the activities that you're interested in would help with planning. Generally you'll get away on most things with a decent pair of hiking shoes/boots. And sadly a waterproof jacket is always going to be useful, even in August!
    For music reviews and previews in Inverness and the Highlands:
  • A good alternative to using Google Maps etc is to use an offline mapping app. I've used Maps.Me with great success - it will work even without a data signal, as you download the maps in advance. Plus you can bookmark places where you'd like to visit and download additional driving/walking routes.

    If you're going anywhere remote or away from roads though, always carry a paper map, even if it's only as a backup.
  • ita360ita360 Member
    Hi guys,
    Thanks for the advice!  I will look at dave thanks for the heads up.  Have you used viewranger before? better? worse?  We are going for the scenery so mostly walks and drives but we don't have any solid plans.  It's kinda hard to find a lot of resources for things north of Inverness here in the US.  I've looked at walk the highlands, NC500 and this website of course but none of the travel books here have any info on these places and only really mention  EDI, Glasgow and inverness. :(  We are looking for a place to "reset" and see some scenery we haven't or can't see here in the US so  loch lomond, north coast 500, skye, glencoe, cairngorms seemed to fit the bill.  Do you all have any suggestions for walks/hikes things to do or see?  We have ideas but are unsure (and were planning on testing the waters carefully when we got there) as we have noticed on walk the highlands the walks aren't exactly marked clearly and we don't want to get lost.  Is that accurate or no?  We are just used to super marked paths at the national parks here so we weren't sure... Any thoughts?  Or with something like should we be fine?  Feel like we are flying a little blind on this trip so thanks in advance for any advice or suggestions for walks! We appreciate it!
  • LeodhasachLeodhasach Member ✭✭
    @ita360 I'd forgotten about Viewranger! I have that on my phone and it's a great resource to have when you're out and about. I often use it to plan routes on the hill and it's a handy backup to the map (and vice versa of course!). 

    You'll find waymarking on many of the shorter walks and loops in the likes of forestry commission land (local to me we have a 'green' 'red' and 'yellow' series of walks above Drumnadrochit of varying lengths and difficulty) and you'll get them on the well established long distance trails like The West Highland Way and Great Glen Way. I find it's best to work on the assumption that there will be no route markers as it's more often going to be the case, especially once you venture out on to the hills. Popular mountains like Ben Nevis and Ben Lomond have very obvious paths all the way up and in fact you'll likely find clear routes on most of the Munros. However mist/clag/rain can quickly make those near invisible so being handy with a map is always going to be a must. 

    For a small country we're utterly spoiled for choice in terms of places to go, have you got any definite plans of where you'll be staying? That'll help us send some ideas your way. 

    Generally though and going by what you've said already, Ben Nevis is a good (busy!) mountain to climb and on many visitor's tick lists. If I'm doing the main donkey path I tend to go really early to avoid the crowds. There's nothing like summiting shortly after dawn and then being smug as you pass the hordes on their way up. (again usual caveats apply as to hill experience etc etc etc). 

    Glen Coe - Buachaille Etive Mor, the views over Rannoch Moor are spectacular. The Aonach Eagach Ridge is a classic ridge walk but only to be tackled if you know what you're doing. There's a fair bit of scrambling and you need a good head for heights. It's linear too so transport needs to be well thought out. 

    On the NC500 route you'll be going through Assynt and it'll be unlike anything you get in the US. The hills are smaller but the character is something else entirely. Stac Pollaidh, Cul Mor/Cul Beag and Suilven are all great days out with varying degrees of length and difficulty. 

    If you're doing any of these a map and compass would be an essential. Lower level well trodden and waymarked routes are generally ok. It's as much about common sense as anything else though!

    For music reviews and previews in Inverness and the Highlands:
  • RossOfFearnRossOfFearn Member
    ita360 said:
    "....Have you used view ranger before?  
    ....Do you all have any suggestions for walks/hikes things to do or see?  We have ideas but are unsure (and were planning on testing the waters carefully when we got there) as we have noticed on walk the highlands the walks aren't exactly marked clearly and we don't want to get lost...."

    I have used View Ranger. It works well to download maps, but you have to pay for the base map and the walk info. You get a couple of free "samples", but they quickly lead you to paying. Instead, go to the Forestry Commission website: [sorry I am not allowed to post the link] and search for Forests near where you will be. They are pretty much everywhere and have well marked trails. There are also maps available that show all of the Forest Trails in a given area, like Sutherland and Caithness.

  • ita360ita360 Member
    I think your suggestions hit all the major areas we will be staying around with the exception of Dunvegan on Skye.  I will check out and the forestry commission (haven't heard of that yet!) so thanks for those recs!
  • willmackenziewillmackenzie Member ✭✭
    edited July 2016
    @ita360, both @VisitScotlandHeather and @VisitScotlandDave make good points about phone coverage and using maps or alternative apps, but I've has a lot of success using Google Maps' 'offline areas'.

    What you do is make a Google Map with all of the places you want to visit as plot points. You can do this on a laptop or on your phone easily and consult this guide if you're unsure. When I undertook the NC500 (North Caost 500) road trip I had over 100 'to see' plot points, plus petrol stations, camp sites, restaurants, etc, all plotted - see example here. Provided you're signed into Google in your Google Maps phone app (and on your computer, if you've made the map there) you can see the map you've created on your phone in the 'Your Places' section of the menu (see screenshot 2 and 3 below). To make the map offline, use the 'Offline Areas' section (see screenshot 2 and 4 below) and download the area of the map with all of your plot points on it.

    With your map downloaded (each downloaded 'offline area' lasts 30 days, unless you delete it) you can then click on plot points and your phone will turn into a Sat Nav, regardless of whether you have any mobile signal/data or not.

    I use o2 as my mobile carrier and had no Edge, 3G or 4G whatsoever (I had GPRS rarely, and it was useless) from the moment we moved north of Inverness/Dingwall, but we used this method for 5 days on our NC500 trip to great effect, visiting all of the sites which were off the main route. Highly recommend this method as a result of successful trial and testing :smile:

    Screenshots for illustration:

    1. Once you've opened Google Maps, use the menu button shown below to launch the areas you will need.

    2. Here's what the menu options look like in Google Maps. Using the two sections below to launch maps or download areas offline (expanded upon further in the following screenshots)

    3. This is an example of how your map will look, when chosen in 'Your Places' from the Google Maps menu

    4. This is what you're shown when you click 'Offline Areas' in the Google Maps menu, allowing you to add the area you're looking at offline to your phone.

    4.PNG 50.3K
    1.PNG 219.4K
    3.PNG 202K
    2.PNG 340.3K
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