Earth > Europe > Northern Europe > United Kingdom > Scotland
|Language:||English, Gaelic, Scots|
|Currency:||Pound sterling (GBP)|
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Hitchhiking in Scotland tends to be far easier than England, and can be incredibly easy in the (specifically towards the west coast and islands), with up to 1 in 5 cars stopping. In Dumfries and Galloway, on the Isle of Arran and on the Kintyre penninsula (south-west), hitching locally is reasonably easy.
There aren't many motorways in Scotland. There are, however, some express dual carriage road, such as the A9 or A90. Those are great to hitchhike since it's allowed to hitchhike on the road itself, in bus stations or laybys. Just make sure that you dont stand after a turn and that your sign is large enough.
For more general hitchhiking information, check out the United Kingdom article, which relates to all countries within the Kingdom.
There are two main roads to get to Scotland from England.
- M6: The western road to Scotland, connecting Birmingham with Manchester, Liverpool and finally Glasgow. Not easy to get on from London, but recommended from anywhere in the West/Southwest as you can easily hop from service station to service station. To get to Edinburgh, fork off at Abington services to take the A road east. Hitching with a sign works better than asking at the services.
- M1/A1: The eastern road to Scotland, connecting London, Leeds and Edinburgh. The M1 only goes up to Leeds where it becomes the A1. Relatively easy to hitch out of London on, but the last services before Edinburgh are near Leeds. Afterwards you can hitchhike along the road though as it's not a motorway anymore.
There's ferries from Ireland and Scandinavia, but those can't be hitchhiked. There's always a chance of asking around in ports to find a small boat, though. Boats from the Faeroe Islands call at Scrabster.
As you can see below, camping is great in Scotland. If you don't have a tent, though, or if it's not cut out for Scottish rain, there's several alternatives. You could of course rely on the Scottish hospitality (which can be encouraged by whining a bit about the weather and so if absolutely necessary), but there's a lot of different kinds of shelters if you're a bit creative. In the Highlands, you might even consider sleeping in a bus shelter as the area is really very safe. Alternatively, there's many derelict houses (because Scotland is being depopulated) which are either empty or transformed into stables. Feel free to move into any of those for a night, but make sure the walls and roof are stable enough.
Scotland has a code of access to all rural areas, particularly national parks such as the Caringorms and Lomond and the Trossachs. Camping is tolerated and allowed anywhere where public access applies, out of the way on Farmland, out of sight of houses and public buildings and out of sight of roads. One must take care not to damage the natural environment, and in upland and peat areas, open fires are discouraged due to the danger of peat fires and forest fires. Camping near A-Roads is not included under public access provisions, but it is well tolerated, making it easier to travel, as if you become stuck somewhere you can pitch camp as long as you are out of the way.
The Scottish Highlands are very easy to hitchhike around, however you should be careful to avoid major trunk routes as people drive very quickly, and even when you can be seen they are unwilling to stop. During the summer, there are a lot of tourists in highland areas who are much less likely to stop for hitchhikers than locals.
Camping in the highlands can be uncomfortable in the summer, especially near pine forests and water, due to biting insects - midges, which are more than a match for mosquitoes; if you are not careful they will attack any area of exposed skin and bite repeatedly. Mosquito repellent and mosquito nets (particularly the over-head nets) are a valuable asset for any trip to Scotland and will make your experience travelling around the country much more pleasant.
The weather in Scotland is very unpredictable, when visiting in the Summer it is advisable to be prepared for both extremely warm and humid conditions but also the cold and very, very wet. Thunderstorms are not uncommon at any time of the year, and unusually for the British isles, some of the mountains will carry a permanent snow cap which gives you an idea of some of the possible conditions. In the winter, it is very cold in central Scotland and the highlands, and in the Caringorms, further North and nearby, snow is not unusual, and in colder winters the peaks are enjoyed by skiers. Some mountains and upland regions are renouned for their dangers, however with care, preparation and proper maps these areas can be enjoyed at any time of the year, and are particularly beautiful in the winter months.
A popular place to stay while in Highland Scotland are mountain bothies, which serve as both an emergency shelter and short-term unserviced accommodation for hikers, hitchhikers, campers and explorers alike.
- Edinburgh - the capital.
- Glasgow - the largest city.
- Inverness - the only city in the Highland region.