Required Text:   Herman, Arthur. How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It, Three Rivers Press, 2002.



Besides your regular clothes, you will need a few specific items to help deal with Scotland in January.

Boots – Plan on getting a pair of over-the-ankle boots that are or can be waterproofed. There may be snow, and there absolutely will be rain. Wet feet, day-after-day, will make you completely miserable. We will never be hiking long distances, but most days will involve some walking. The only extended walks are Castle Campbell which is fairly easy and Dunaad which is shorter but can be a little harder. Decent footwear will keep you much happier. I’ve seen people do this trip in tennis shoes, but they were unhappy a significant portion of the time.

Camera — Your major project is a photo-essay of some type. You will need a decent camera. Think about the type of storage it uses, how it gets recharged, and how easy it is to operate in 60 mph sleet storms. You can try it with a phone camera, but you may want something a little more robust. One more thing…. 10-12MP is plenty of resolution unless you are making posters; spend money on things like optical (rather than digital) zoom and Carl Zeiss lenses (for example). The video and stills in the Scotland movie linked here were taken with an old Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS and a Lumix TZ-150. If you must go buy something, you might consider a GoPro. If you are planning a full-on DSLR, remember, you have to carry it.

Socks — a mid weight backpacking sock with either wool or technical synthetics blend will do well for warmth and comfort. If you use thin liner socks, you can wear the outer pair many days and save on packing.

Outerwear — Dress in layers. It works. The top should be waterproof, and don’t laugh at long underwear. 2017 was constant ice and snow for the first two weeks and then wonderful for the third. January 2016 was sunny for three weeks, but 2014 saw more snow in Scotland than in the previous 60 years, and there were unbelievably bad windstorms in January 2015. Don’t forget hat and gloves, and you should probably leave at home any expectations of “looking good” whilst in a 70 mph horizontal sleet storm.

Daypack — Something small, and plan for your camera and your journal…they need to stay dry.

Remember that you have to carry your suitcase, and elevators are not always available. The smaller and lighter you can go, the happier you will be. Pack and then take half out.


If you really are going and don’t have a passport, apply now. And if you do have a passport, check the expiration date. If it expires less than six months after the class, get a new one. Otherwise, you will have problems at immigration.