Avoiding Midges on Holiday
There has been a lot of scaremongering in the media of late regarding the impending midge apocalypse. If we are to believe the press hyperbole then clouds of billions of the little beasties will be completely suffocating the entire country devouring the flesh of tourists like piranhas. The reality on the ground is somewhat different. Yes, midges are a perennial irritant but with some forward planning, flexibility and a few precautions then there is no reason why you should let them spoil your holiday.
Midges are not the hardiest of nuisances, despite their fearsome reputation they are quite easily defeated by something as simple as a gentle breeze, in fact anything over 5mph will have them diving for cover. The Butt of Lewis has a reputation as one of the windiest places in the UK so if there was anywhere you could depend on for a bit of a breeze then it is here. The bracing coastal walk from the lighthouse along the cliff tops is fantastic in any weather and makes a great day out from nearby Taigh Eilidh. For another midge free day then you could from here enjoy a day out in Stornoway. With so much on offer in the Hebrides then the town is often overlooked and that’s a shame as it has culture, shopping and coffee shops to rival anywhere in the Highlands.
Midges also love still warm evenings after rain, this is just the time that people like to sit outside so if possible re-arrange your schedule to avoid the worst of them. The Old Farmhouse has stand up paddle boards for hire and they make a brilliant way to escape the worst of the little monsters. It’s a great excuse to paddle about on the loch and watch the sun set from the water before returning back to the luxury of this recently renovated building.
Taigh nan Eilean has a recently constructed fire pit and seating outside. Sitting around a fire is one of life’s greatest simple pleasures but it is also very effective at keeping midges at bay. In the past some people would swear by chain-smoking in an effort to survive outside on a quiet evening, although maybe effective in the short term it is not something we would recommend. A mosquito coil would we think be a much healthier alternative.
Another old wives tale recommends drinking beer, as allegedly the yeast deters the little blighters. Despite testing this theory extensively we here at LHH cannot offer any concrete evidence for its success. Were you to conduct your own research into this then we would recommend somewhere like the deck outside Longa House where you can always nip inside and take in the view from there if it doesn’t go according to plan. The beach at Big Sand and the recently established Snorkel Trail are also just a short walk away and will provide a brilliant midge free activity for the younger ones to enjoy.
Clothing is another important way to keep midges at bay. They are attracted to dark clothing so wear light colours and cover up as much as possible. Special hats and nets that can cover the face can be bought cheaply at outdoor shops almost anywhere in the country. Also midge sprays and repellents such as Smidge are an effective way to reduce the nuisance and to make the most of your time outside. Any similar product that contains DEET is likely to have the desired effect although for those with sensitive skin, Avon’s Skin So Soft (used by the British army) is a gentler alternative. For a natural way to stop bites becoming itchy we would try aloe vera gel, essential oils like lavender and tea tree oil or soak a cotton wool ball or pad with cider vinegar and apply to the affected area for a few minutes.
For those wanting a barbecue experience but without the bugs then Finnish Grillkota huts are an amazing solution. Sociable as well as practical these allow large parties to get out of the house and cook and dine together. Strone House sleeps 14 and is ideal for large family reunions. In addition to the barbecue hut there is a games room with table tennis so children can burn off some energy without getting devoured outside.