SCOTTISH COURSES - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
BOOKINGS AND PAYMENTS
How Early do I need to Book? Popular courses fill up 2 – 3 months prior to the start date. We offer early-booking discounts in the autumn. For best choice and cheapest prices we recommend you book 2-4 months in advance.
Can I come on my Own? Yes; most of our clients book as individuals.
Do you Offer Shorter Courses? Yes; groups and couples can book weekend packages, or we can offer shortened courses (ie doing the first 2 or 3 days of a course at a pro-rated price) on weeks where full 5-day bookings are light.
Can I change my booking dates? We will change your booking free of charge if the change request is made within 14 days of making a booking. Thereafter we make a £40 charge for date changes up to 35 days before course commencement. Later than 35 days prior to the course start date change requests are treated as a cancellation and new booking, and our normal terms and conditions are applied.
But if I get injured or fall ill can I postpone dates without losing out? We strongly recommend that all our clients should take out a holiday insurance policy that will offer recompense due to cancellation due to your indisposition.
Can I pay the fee balance over the phone? No. We are not allowed to compromise the security of our payment system by sharing your card details. You must pay on-line by a Further Payment on our web booking page or arrange a bank transfer (we will give you our bank details on request).
When do we Know that there are enough Bookings for the Course to Run? We have not cancelled any Scottish course due to lack of bookings for many years. When bookings are low we may need to combine groups on some days provided activities on different courses can overlap. Alternatively, if you are the only person booked on a course, we may ask if you are willing a pay a little more for 1:1 guiding in order to cover our guide’s wage. In event that we do have to cancel a course we will give a minimum of 28 days’ notice with full refund of fees, but please be assured this is a last resort for us.
Why is there a 2% charge on Credit card balance payments? Simply, this is because we pay a commission of c2.75% to the card processing company on each credit card transaction. We have to pass part of this charge on to our credit card customers, otherwise we would have to increase all our prices. Debit card payments and bank transfers can be made free of any extra charge.
Are my Advance Payments Protected if you become Insolvent? Yes; we carry Financial Failure Insurance on all advance deposits as required buy the Package Travel Regulations.
WEATHER AND CONDITIONS
Is the course cancelled when conditions are bad? No. Whatever the weather and conditions encountered we endeavour to offer you a rewarding course experience. It is far less stressful for you and for us if we take the positive attitude and make the best of what we get. A complete absence of snow in the winter months is very unusual. Activities and venues are varied to get the best out of available conditions. Much can be learnt from operating in difficult weather, and we can focus on instruction and coaching when high level activities are not possible.
When is the best time to come for a Winter course? We cannot answer this question. Meteorologists aren’t yet smart enough to tell us months in advance which periods will offer the best weather and conditions. We schedule our courses to cover the period which on average offers the best conditions. Within that period it is impossible to guess which weeks will be good and which will be bad. A few general observations are:- i) Snow cover is more variable at New Year – there may not yet be a good snow base; ii) Early season (Jan) can give bitterly cold snaps with rapid development of conditions; iii) Mid- to late-season (Feb-Mar) generally offers a more stable reliable snow base but with longer daylight conditions may become more Spring-like (ie good in gullies, bare on ridges).
How can I find out about conditions in Scotland? For the mountain weather forecast go to www.mwis.org.uk and to get avalanche forecasts plus information/pictures on conditions go to the report and blog sections of the Scottish Avalanche Service www.sais.gov.uk . There is a specific report for Torridon on SAIS.
FITNESS AND TRAINING
How fit do I need to be for a Course? For all courses you need to have good stamina. Anyone who gets out hillwalking regularly and is happy hiking for 7 to 8 hours over rough mountain terrain will manage well on the courses. You don’t need “ultra” levels of fitness just solid endurance. An ascending pace of 400 metre/hour on a graded path is a good fitness target. Equally, you need to have strength in thighs and knees to handle steep descents at a similar rate. For technical climbing courses the specific strengths in arms, wrists and calf muscles should be developed by prior experience of steep climbing whether outside or on indoor walls.
What is the best Training for the courses? Get out walking for a few days in hilly terrain with a 10-12kg load in the months prior to the course. If you can’t get to the hills, then indoor gym training (cross-fit, circuits, rowing, treadmill) or cycling will all help. Beware of the risk of injury if you try too much or adopt unusual methods of training. For example, repetitive road-running can easily cause stress injury and is not necessary as preparation for a mountain course.
Can you Arrange Car-Shares with other Course Members? If you want to share a lift then please tell us and we will circulate other course members and invite them to get in touch with you if they are interested in sharing transport.
Where is your nearest Rail Station? Strathcarron Station is 3 miles from Coulags Lodge. We provide a collection service on the evening of the course commencement and will do collections at other times for a small charge. We also provide courtesy transport to the station on the morning of departure.
What Qualifications do your Guides Have? On Winter courses we employ only UK – validated Mountain Instructors (MIA or MIC level), full British Mountain Guides (BMG/IFMGA) or trainee BMGuides who have passed their summer assessment and completed their winter training course. We require all our staff to undergo a minimum of 2 days of unpaid training with us before taking our groups out independently.
Will you tell us who will be our Guide on the Course? We allocate our staff at the start of the course. We give our instructors and guides a rotation of different courses so that they are fresh and keen, and not dulled by repetition.
Can I ask for a particular Guide to lead our course? We try to meet requests but can’t promise to provide individual Guides. If you want to climb with a specific Guide then private guiding/instruction is a better option.
MEALS AND ACCOMMODATION
Are Meals and Packed Lunches provided? Yes; and upon notification we will cater for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or lactose-free diets.
What about Drinks. Can we bring our own? We offer an alcoholic aperitif (beer or wine) on the first and last nights of your course, and you are welcome to bring your own drinks to enjoy during the holiday.
How Big is the Lodge? Coulags Lodge sleeps up to 10 with 2 doubles and 3 twin rooms. In the busy parts of the season we rent a nearby annexe cottage, Carron View, which has a double, single and twin room.
When do I need to book a Single Room The single room options generally get booked first. There is a supplement payable to reserve a single room. You need to book early (at least 3 months before the course) to have a good chance of getting a single. If no singles are available we offer twin-share with another member of the course.
Can I do the course but arrange my own Accommodation? Yes. We will quote a course-only price excluding accommodation and meals if that is your preference.
Can I bring my non-participating Partner on the course? Yes; provided we have sufficient accommodation available. We will quote a rate for full-board accommodation.
If I arrive early can you provide extra Accommodation? Yes; we can provide 1 night of extra accommodation for clients arriving early (ie on Fri instead of Sat)
When do I need to book Hire Kit? All rental gear should be booked at least two weeks in advance of your course and charges paid through our secure web booking page .
Do you Rent out Clothing? No. We keep a few items of clothing, gloves and hats in reserve in case anyone starts the course without suitable kit or has baggage lost on a flight. Check out www.expeditionkithire.co.uk for rental options for a full range of kit including clothing