The weather will play a big part in any trip around the UK or Ireland - we guarantee it!
What’s the Weather like in Scotland, Ireland, England or Wales?
We are often asked what the weather will be like for a trip to a certain place in the UK or Ireland at a specific time of year. The only true answer is that we guarantee you will experience weather. That weather might be bright sunshine or squally rain. It could include beautiful rainbows or fiercely gusting winds. And that’s all perfectly possible within the space of just a few hours on the same day in any month of the year. “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute,” is a commonly uttered phrase.
So please take our outline guide below with the biggest pinch of salt – early or late summer heatwaves are not unheard of while snowstorms very occasionally occur into April. Storms and gales may be more common in winter but they sometimes swirl up in June or July. Rain can come and go at any time, from drizzly showers to heavy downpours. The best steer we can give is to take heed of Billy Connolly’s advice: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes. So put on a sexy raincoat and live a little!”
North, South, East & West
Unsurprisingly, the South of England and the London area tend to face higher temperatures. By the time you reach the northern extremities of Scotland, such as Orkney and Shetland, the average can be ten degrees Centigrade or more cooler.
Due to prevailing south-westerly winds sweeping in weather systems from the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, Cornwall, Wales and Scotland’s West Coast experience higher average rainfall than eastern counterparts. However, the currents of the Gulf Stream carry water from the Caribbean too so these areas tend to remain a little warmer in winter, with less chance of heavy snowfall or hard frosts around the coast. This climate results in lush, green landscapes, with sub-tropical species surprisingly flourishing in sheltered coastal gardens.
Meanwhile, areas such as Norfolk in the East of England and Scotland’s Moray Coast boast of their summer sunshine records and may even experience bursts of drought – a worry for agriculture or Scotch whisky production which rely on abundant water supplies. Of course, there are exceptions – the island of Tiree, despite its location off Scotland’s West, regularly claims to be the sunniest spot in the whole of the UK, thanks to lengthy daylight hours in summer and its low-lying natural form – meaning any approaching clouds are rapidly swept onwards.
As the leaves unfurl on the trees, swathes of wildflowers colour the countryside, from the brilliant yellow and orange of daffodils through to vibrant bluebells swerving between woodland. The days noticeably lengthen from April onwards and gorse bursts into bright yellow blooms lining the roadside in many a place. Easter, whenever it falls, often officially marks the beginning of the main visitor season – many attractions and places of interest open up at this point or lengthen their hours. Daytime temperatures generally range from 5-12C.
Outdoor seating areas start to come more into use as visitor numbers increase. Public holidays at the beginning and end of May encourage residents of the UK and Ireland to take domestic breaks. Rhododendrons and azaleas burst into bloom, especially remarkable across Scotland and Ireland, while rural roads continue to be edged by splashes of yellow gorse. This tends to be a very popular time of year for those looking to travel outside school holidays. June features the longest day, and the further north and west you are, the less dark it gets. In Shetland this phenomenon is known as the “simmer dim”. Daytime average temperatures range from 10-18C, with the occasional much warmer spell.
Considered peak season, for both UK and overseas visitors. Temperatures usually average between 15-20C in Scotland and Ireland, and around five degrees warmer in much of England. Occasionally a heatwave descends for a few days, bringing mutterings about the lack of air-conditioning in small Highland hotels or on the London Underground – our infrastructure is not really designed for such events! Hedgerows are a riot of pink fuchsia and orange crocosmia and you may even witness hardy souls swimming in the sea. By mid-August, the hills of Scotland are carpeted in the purple of flowering heather.
Popular months again for those not bound by school timetables. It can be hard to predict the best weeks for autumn colour – sometimes the trees begin to turn by mid September, other years it may not be until late October. Gradually the hillsides transform from purple and green into russet and brown. Showery rainfall can lead to spectacular rainbows, while on still days mist hovers over lakes and lochs, creating beautiful scenes. Temperatures begin to dip again, though warm days can pop up into late September and early October. Places start to close up in some remoter areas from late September so do check with us if there are particular things you wish to visit. I recall a time when we were away for a weekend in the NW Highlands of Scotland, driving around on the most beautiful, warm sunny day, yet we passed a café that was “Closed for Winter” – it was the 1st of October!
Short days give the best opportunity to witness colourful sunrises and sunsets, and starry nights can be amazing away from the light pollution of cities. Travelling to the islands and more remote areas becomes trickier given winter transport timetables and increased likelihood of weather disruption. Snow flecks the mountain- and hill-tops and occasionally drifts into the lowlands. Daytime temperatures are likely to stay in single figures, and frequently dip below freezing overnight, though less so in sheltered westerly coastal areas.
These are good months for watching the world go by while hunkered down indoors in front of a crackling fire with a dram or two of whisky/ whiskey in hand. Venturing out into the cold will bring rewards, though: on a clear day views stretch for miles and miles, unhampered by foliage and seen through the prism of crisp, clean air, while conversely, dark, dramatic skies and boiling seas attract those keen on storm-watching. Snowdrops presage spring from early February and gradually green shoots start to appear on bare land and trees.
In summary, whenever you choose to take a trip within the UK and Ireland, whether you decide to head North, South, East or West, just prepare for the worst and expect the best when it comes to the weather. It’s sure to play a big part in your trip – that we will guarantee!