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One month in England, Wales, and Scotland: May or September?

We have the opportunity to do a one-month driving tour of England, Wales, and Scotland this year. Our itinerary is similar to Rick Steve's "Britain's best three-week trip by car" with some modifications. We have two windows of time to do this: late April through late May, or in September. What are your thoughts on the relative merits of a springtime visit versus a late summer visit?

Posted by
117 posts


We did a full 1 month+ visit to the UK in both May 2013 and May 2014. We loved it. Great weather, school still in session (so, less folks at some sites) and the two bank holidays were no problem, either.

On both trips, we stayed in London for several days and then picked-up our rental car (first time in Cardiff, Wales, after taking the train from London to Cardiff; second time p/u in London, just outside of Kensington).

Do buy yourself a SD card for the UK for your own GPS system. It is far cheaper than getting GPS with your rental car! We still used maps and common sense, but the GPS was lovely. Also, bringing our own GPS meant we were completely familiar with how it worked, so no learning how to use it while also learning how to drive on the other side of the road!! We also used it, in pedestrian mode, for walking around London. Made exploring much more fun!

We made our own itinerary, as there were specific things we wanted to see. Seeing the UK from roads other than the main ones was wonderful.


Posted by
945 posts

May, spring will be well set and way more important much longer daylight hours

Posted by
1232 posts

We had the same question last year. We always have gone to Europe in September, but wondered if the weather would be better in May. In the end, other circumstances forces us to go in September. Fortunately we had wonderful weather (only saw rain 2 days in 5 weeks). My one thought is about the beautiful gardens in England. While they were beautiful in September, I would think the spring would be the best time of year to see them. I can't say first hand, so why don't you go and check it out for me!!

Posted by
70 posts

With 3-4 weeks, May would be your best bet for weather, things to see (e.g. the bluebells will be out) and length of daylight. However, in May there are 2 bank holiday weekends (4th and 25th) so those weekends will be busy in the popular places like the Lakes, Peaks, Cotswolds and south-west; book early and allow plenty of time for travel and parking etc. As you're driving, the restricted timetables for trains won't affect you. There is an advantage to being here for the BH weekends though - many attractions that normally run during the summer (like some of the stream railways) open for the bank holidays too, though booking tickets ahead is generally a good idea.

Posted by
203 posts

Thanks to all for your input. Although we would prefer May, due to recent schedule changes, it appears likely that we will do this in September. I will keep all apprised of any new developments. Again, thanks for sharing and your insight.

Posted by
5671 posts

If you are going in September, think about starting in Scotland as some of the heather will still be in bloom. I've done many trips to the UK in September and it's a lovely time. The kids are back in school, but the tourist sites are still open.


Posted by
203 posts

Well, we have decided to postpone the trip until next May in order to take full advantage of the scenery and blooming flowers and the longer days. So, I will probably get back onto this forum for your input and recommendations in the late fall. However, all is not lost. We are still traveling in September, but it looks like a car tour of France instead. So, if you have any input, please go to the France forum and consider commenting. Again, thanks to everyone for their input and recommendations.