Hiking as an adult already takes a lot of planning, but adding a baby into the mix pushes everything to the next level. Christine, a French mum based in the South of England and avid traveler and blogger for Maman Voyage, shares her tips and experiences for hiking with a baby in the Scottish Highlands.
When our son was 11 months old, we traveled around the Highlands in Scotland. We always loved hiking and wanted to take the opportunity to introduce that passion to our baby.
We chose to visit Scotland for our hiking trip because of its moderate climate. With a baby, we wanted to avoid high temperatures that many places experience in the summer. It’s also much easier to hike when the temperature is mild or even a bit cool. We traveled in August and it was around 18°C (64F). We were lucky to get only one day of rain, but we were prepared for more!
The Highlands is the perfect choice for this type of holiday as it has numerous hiking possibilities around Glencoe and also on the famous Isle of Skye.
Planning and Itinerary
- Half-day or day hikes: Before becoming parents, we used to do long-distance hikes where we would leave for several days and sleep in a tent. However, since having a baby we prefer to sleep in B&Bs and stick to day-hikes. This makes it easier to monitor the weather or come back for naps if you had a particularly difficult night with the baby.
- Choose your accommodation according to the hikes you plan to do: We spent 3 nights in a B&B in Glencoe and did some hikes around the area. Then, 2 nights on Isle of Skye for amazing walks in a stunning environment and finally 1 night in Plockton before going back to Glasgow where we caught our flight.
- Organize the day: Ideally, we preferred to hike in the morning so that we could be back at our B&B by the time our baby needed to have lunch and a nap. There were obviously some exceptions when we did slightly longer hikes, such as the day we stopped for a picnic in the mountains while our son was sleeping in his baby carrier.
- Take more breaks than usual during your walk: It is important to take breaks and let the baby move around a bit. Taking breaks often gives you an opportunity to grab a snack and some water and the occasional diaper change.
- Check the weather: A small bit of rain is ok, but don’t take any risks with a baby! It’s also good to ask your B&B hosts for advice about the condition of the trail you want to hike. You may have nice weather that day, but if it rained recently then the trail might be too muddy to use.
What to Bring When Hiking with a Baby in Scotland
- Carrying: For hiking, we love the Ergobaby. We also used our baby wrap, but I don’t recommend these for hiking if your baby is heavy. We think the Ergobaby is the easiest and most comfortable option to go hiking with a baby (up to 20kg). We also found it lighter than a traditional hiking carrier as it did not hurt our backs after walking for long periods of time. You can also carry your child in the front or on your back depending on which way is most comfortable. We also took breaks carrying our son and would split the time we both carried him.
- An insect repellent to protect your baby (and you!) against midges! Midges are like tiny mosquitoes. They are very unpleasant! We crossed them only once, but that was enough. They are not dangerous and don’t carry illnesses, but they sting like mosquitoes. I also tried using some lavender essential oil, but the product we bought at the pharmacy worked better. So ask for advice once you are there as you will need an insect repellent you can use on your baby’s skin.
- Just in case, it’s good to carry a tick remover as there can be some in that area. Check your baby every night before bedtime.
- Sunscreen and a hat for your baby because they will certainly get some sun too!
- Clothes for the rain as you are bound to get rain in Scotland, no matter the season.
- Parents should wear proper hiking shoes as the ground can be very moist and it will give you better stability while carrying your baby.
- We bought baby food in local supermarkets. Ready-made baby food is fine cold, no need to heat it up if you’re in the middle of nowhere. If we stopped at a pub or while in our B&B, we used a microwave. Note also that pubs and restaurants are very well equipped for babies as most have high chairs and changing tables. Scotland in general is a very kid-friendly destination!
- We bought diapers in local shops and sometimes we changed our son in the middle of a hike or at the top of a mountain!
- Of course, always carry enough water in your day bag.
- A baby cot. We rented a car, so we brought our own baby cot but a lot of B&Bs have baby cots available, so it’s up to you.
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- A baby seat for the car so that you can easily drive from one hiking spot to another safely.
Best Hiking Trails with a Baby in the Scottish Highlands
Here are the hikes we loved! They are easy as with a baby we didn’t want too much of a challenge:
- Around Glencoe: Pap of Glencoe (4 hours round trip)
- On the Isle of Skye: Neist Point, Quirraing hike (1 hour and a half), Old Man of Stor (1 hour and a half), and a walk along the cliffs in Talisker.
To prepare for our walks we used the website: Walk Highlands.
I wish you all some lovely family memories while hiking with your baby in the Scottish Highlands! And on our travel blog “Maman Voyage” you will find more information about our road trip to Scotland with our baby.
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That looks like such an amazing trip, thanks for sharing!
I’m considering a 2-3 week solo trip to England and Scotland with my son. I’m thinking of going in 2023 if things look good (Keeping COVID/Travel restrictions in mind). I will be 23 and my son will be 3 years old. Would you recommend hiking in the highlands with a toddler? Is it safe enough to go solo or would it be better to hire a guide? Thanks!