Best time to visit the UK

A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves
Brits are weather obsessed, more as a social greeting than a serious meteorological appraisal. Some things are for sure: trains are delayed when autumn leaves fall on tracks. People call September an 'Indian summer', when in fact it's nearly always gorgeous. The cold weather doesn't kick in until January and February. It is always about 3°C warmer in the south than the north. You can see the Northern Lights in Scotland. When it's hot, motorways come to a standstill. And, as Gerard Manley Hopkins said 'Nothing is as beautiful as spring'. But it's our weather, and we love it.

When to visit the UK, month by month guide

The Welsh landscapes scenery, never less than verdant, are particularly lovely in March, April and May with wildflowers in bloom, and birds such as auks, razorbills and guillemots arriving to nest over summer. Spring is one of the best times to visit England, but there’s a lot to be said for a beer garden in summer. The Lake District, Peak District and other popular areas can get very busy in June and July, but there are still plenty of little nooks where you can find solitude. July is the warmest month of the year in Wales, and this is when dolphins can commonly be seen frolicking off the coast. Autumn is glorious around the Glens of Antrim in Scotland, with the trees turning. Hillsborough Oyster Festival, in County Down, Northern Ireland, usually takes place around the beginning of September. There is another oyster festival in Carlingford, just over the border on the shores of Carlingford Lough, in August. Scotland’s midges have a bad reputation, but in fact they are only really a problem at dusk and by the water’s edge between May and October. Stalking season (the annual deer cull) is from 1 July to 20 October, with a hind season until 15 February. If you want to hike in peace, stay away from the stalkers. By November, the weather is on the turn across most of the UK and it’s getting colder and wetter. However, if you are brave enough to tackle a walking holiday at this time of year, you’re never far from a cosy pub, usually with a blazing fire on the go. December, January and February are decidedly chilly in Wales, with average temperatures of around 0°C inland and snow likely, especially in higher reaches such as Snowdonia. Winter walking is popular in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park, where you can even spend the night in a snow hole you’ve dug yourself.

S. Downs (England) Weather Chart

RAIN (mm)

UK travel advice

Devon tips

Paul Day, Managing Director at our supplier, Let’s Go Walking, shares his experiences of walking in England: "One of my favourite walks is on Dartmoor. It only takes two to three hours but the variety of landscapes and quietness that you’ll find en-route from Okehampton to the village of Sticklepath, via Belstone, are simply stunning...

"Winter lets you explore more of the moors as the muddy, boggy areas tend to harden which allows walkers to wander a little further from the footpaths. Of course, the summer’s not bad either and if you’re a fan of wild swimming, seek out the Cullever Steps below Scary Tor for one of my favourite spots to cool off on a hot day on the moors."
Ian Ripper, Wheatland Farm Eco Lodges:
"I'm always surprised by the contradictions. People love Devon because it is less developed; yet seem to want to have all the conveniences of the cities and urban conurbations. It's lovely because we lack those things!"

Scotland tips

Robert Kidd, from one of our suppliers, McKinlay Kidd:
"Yes it takes a while to get to the Orkney or the Outer Hebrides, but I think the journey is all part of the experience. Our islands are something very special. Cycling on Gigha or walking around Colonsay are my favourites."
Sunny Wattal, from our partner High Places:
“There’s a limited season for cycling the North Coast 500. You’ve got mid-May and June, then after that come the midges of summer. And from late September it gets cold that far north. We have two trips in early and late summer and both sell out quickly.”

Northern Ireland tips

Andrew Magowan, founder of our partner The Inside Trek:
“The food we provide is ultra local. Due to the Troubles, for example, many local brands flourished. You still seem them lining the shelves of shops. This is a very agricultural country, so your food mileage is generally very low. We take a lot of pride in that – there are a lot of good chefs taking advantage of it.”

Packing tips

Paul Day, MD of our supplier, Let’s Go Walking:
"My advice for walkers in England is always: do your research, wear good walking boots to support the ankles with two pairs of socks, and pack some chocolate and cereal bars to get you from one pub to the next."

Colette Dubois co-founder of our supplier, St. Hilda Sea Adventures in Scotland:
"It is important not to forget your waterproofs. Some people think that they can manage without, and it is not because the weather is bad but because when you go in a dinghy you are close to the water, when you put the anchor up you can get wet at that time. They don’t have to be fancy; cheap waterproofs which cost about £10 for the trousers are fine."
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about UK or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Tips from our travellers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful UK travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday.
Don't let changeable weather stop you... If you're interested in castles/monuments consider joining CADW for half price admission.
- Alison Sauvain
"Bring walking shoes and a map to explore lots of good walks. Plenty of hills and views and if the weather is wet and windy the Tarka trail is good and mainly sheltered." - Bob Simmonds on holiday in Devon

"If possible try to use the local bus services. They are not particularly frequent but by intelligent use of the Vectis timetables, you can visit everything on the island without any difficulty." - Christopher Vasey on the Isle of Wight

"Do it! What a wonderful way to see Pembrokeshire, bobbing around on the Sea looking up at the magnitude of this craggy coastal scene." - Peter Hill on a sea kayaking holiday in Wales

"Travel with elasticated waistbands, the food is plentiful and very good." - Anne Feeley, on a Scotland rail holiday
If you're going to the NW Highlands in midsummer take an eyemask! Very little darkness this time of year.
- Elaine McAdam
"Take sea-sickness tablets if you go on an all-day boat trip (it can get quite choppy), and insect repellent for the evenings." - Louise Keable, on a wildlife holiday on the Isle of Mull

"Go to the beach on really sunny days - it's not far and Llanwyddyn must be one of the finest in the UK. The Welsh Highland Railway is superb - go to Rhyd Dddu or Waunfawr (a short drive away) and catch the train to Portmadog. Stunning route through Beddgelert and the Aberglaslyn Pass." - Philip Burston, in Snowdonia

"Don't let changeable weather stop you from enjoying everything the area has to offer! When it's blowy and wet in Fachwen it may not be on the coast. Climbing shops have detailed 3 day forecasts. If you're interested in castles/monuments consider joining CADW (Heritage in Wales) - membership costs around £50-60 pa for family and in the first year gives half price admission to English Heritage/Historic Scotland sites too." - Alison Sauvain, in Snowdonia

"Take your own binoculars everywhere with you - if you are interested in watching wild animals." - Luc Deneys on the Isle of Mull
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Mikadun] [Intro: Ian Cylkowski] [Devon tips: Chris Gilbert] [Scotland tips: Nils Leonhardt] [Northern Ireland tips: Patrick Browne] [Alison Sauvain quote: sagesolar] [Elaine McAdam quote: john mcsporran]