Exploring the Wettest Locations in Scotland | GORE-TEX
After the long, hot summer of 2018 the weather has finally began to turn back to normal here in Scotland. Winter is on the horizon, the light is fading earlier each day and the rain is starting to fall across the country.
This month I was challenged by Tiso to test a selection of their new season GORE-TEX products. I wanted to put these products through their paces, I wanted to travel to the wettest location in Scotland and make sure these products would perform well in the fast approaching winter.
It was no surprise that the west coast of Scotland topped the list of wettest locations and more specifically Glen Etive. This historic Glen receives on average 3300mm of rain per year, dry days here are far outnumbered by rainy ones. In fact, Glen Etive ranks as one of the wettest locations in the whole of Europe.
Adventures are always more fun with some good friends, so I got in touch with two of our supported by Tiso affiliates, Tristan Cameron-Harper and photographer Rachel Keenan who were more than excited for a wet weather adventure. Jerba campervans in North Berwick were kind enough to lend us their bright yellow Volkswagen T6 Transporter, named Tiree. Because let’s face it, who enjoys camping in the rain?
Early on a Tuesday morning, the three of us, plus Nacho the dog, rolled out of a grey and drizzly Glasgow city centre and hit the road north.
The Magical Glen
Fifteen miles north of Glasgow lies Finnich Glen, also known as the Devil’s Pulpit. A 100ft deep gorge with a ruby red river flowing through its heart. A haven for photographers and well worth a stop off.
After negotiating the ancient stone staircase, ‘Jacob’s ladder’ we were deep in the gorge, towering walls surrounded us and the river peacefully flowed below our feet.
This was the perfect place to test out our GORE-TEX footwear. Tristan was in the Merrell MQM flex GORE-TEX shoe which uses GORE-TEX Invisible fit technology, which is more breathable, quicker drying and incredibly lightweight. Rachel and I were in the Merrell Moab 2 Mid GORE-TEX shoe, designed for comfort in the hills. After exploring the gorge and Rachel flexing her photography muscles, we re-traced our steps, with dry feet, back to the van.
We pushed further north in Tiree, the VW. Into the Trossachs national park and finally took the left turn into Glen Etive just as the light was beginning to turn golden and the sun was starting to dip in the sky.
The Wettest Glen
We had travelled to Glen Etive for the wet weather but this evening the glen was treating us to the most amazing sights. A soul warming sunset behind the iconic Buachaille Etive Mor, then later after setting up camp and opening the whisky, the sky filled with bright stars, shooting stars and a perfect view of the Milky Way.
We were lulled into a false sense of calm by the evening’s weather, but this was Scotland after all and its wettest glen. During the night the clouds rolled in and the rain began to trickle, quickly gaining momentum to a rush of water splashing off the van roof.
In the morning, we pulled back the curtains of the van to see Glen Etive clad in cloud and an eerie mist hanging in the valley.
We dressed head to toe in our GORE-TEX outfits and reluctantly stepped out of the van. We started off with Tristan testing the new Mountain Equipment Impellor Jacket, an online exclusive for Tiso. This ultra-light shell features GORE-TEX active fabric, a highly breathable and waterproof membrane, making it perfect for higher intensity activities. We therefore got Tristan running! Chased by his dog Nacho, Tristan took this jacket for a spin through the woods and tracks of Glen Etive.
The rain gave no sign of letting up however there was no way we were going to let it stop our adventure. We headed off again for a hike through the valley and to explore Glen Etive. Rachel was testing the new Haglofs Roc Spirit jacket, which features 3L GORE-TEX C-KNIT technology, a soft yet highly durable shell. I was testing the new Arc’teryx Beta LT jacket which features GORE-TEX Pro, the most advanced weather protection available. We were cosy and dry as the rain persistently fell around us.
Hiking in the rain is a different kind of adventure to hiking in the dry. Once you accept the weather, you begin to notice how the environment changes around you. The clouds move and swirl over the mountain tops and the mist rises and falls in the glen, creating an ever changing view. We quickly concluded that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad attitudes.
Later we headed back to our home on wheels to warm up with a van brew, we even stuck the heater on to dry off our jackets, oh the luxury!
We are all aware the weather here in the UK is temperamental, we can experience all seasons in the space of a day! It is of course important to be careful in the mountains. But with over 191 days of rain a year on the west coast, you have to get out there on the wet days as well as the dry days to make the most of this amazing environment!
Having the right kit is essential to avoiding a wet and potentially miserable day. GORE-TEX always has our back in such situations. Tristan, Rachel, Nacho and I loved exploring the wettest locations in Scotland and would like to say a huge thank you to Jerba Campervans for lending us the lovely Tiree van.
In Scotland, there are adventures to be had in any weather, all you have to do is get out there and embrace it!
Images courtesy of Rachel Keenan Photography