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Flight to Edinburgh: My curser is hovering over "buy now."

My husband and I (early sixties) are planning a trip which, until very recently, had a bookmarked folder called "Somewhere in 2015." We have now (finally) pretty much settled on Scotland and England. We will have 16 nights, arriving on 9/27 and leaving on 10/14. So far my plan is to arrive in Edinburgh and leave from London. Everything in the middle is still a blank (ish) space although I am certainly going to make specific plans.

What is keeping my curser hovering instead of selecting is my concern over the potential bad weather in Scotland. I know, I know you've heard this before. BUT we are not travelers who enjoy spending loads of time on vacations seeing museums, interiors of historic buildings, or (DEFINITELY not) shopping. We prefer walking the streets, sitting (outside when possible) in cafes/pubs drinking and listening to local music, and driving/walking in areas of scenic beauty. I know there is plenty of scenic beauty in Scotland but, frankly, the threat of weather which will obscure most of it is a little daunting.

I realize the weather could be picture postcard perfect in Sept/Oct. Or not. Obviously its the "not" that I feel like I have to plan for. So…what's Scotland - specifically the highlands and western beaches - like when the weather is continually rainy and cloudy? I'm not concerned about our city stay (probably 2 nights) but our plan is to rent a car and drive for three or four days (and…we have yet to experience driving on the wrong side). Would we still get a sense of the magic and majesty of the highlands and the beaches in continued gloom? Am I an ass for worrying about this? Probably. :)

Posted by
3533 posts

Your last sentence is your answer. Unpredictable, often uncosy, sometimes annoying, weather is part of Scotland. The Scots belong to that climate like they inhabit the land. Storm clouds across the heather are part of their heritage. Yet look at a map to orient the terrain and you can realize that the climate can be remarkably temperate considering its northern exposure. The landscape's "majesty" is bleak and obdurate and convincing. Carry a rain hat and moisture-resistant footwear and get to know Scotland. Or not.

Posted by
110 posts

To be honest, Southam, your reply is sort of what I expected (though much more poetic!). I guess it is kind of a ridiculous question in many ways. Perhaps answers like yours will help me to feel foolish (not that I think you were trying to make me feel foolish) enough for hesitating to force my hand. Still...I think its hard for someone who doesn't get to travel all that often to plan something that has maybe a better than even chance of being unattainable in a big way. For many people whose responses to these questions number in the thousands, travel is a way of life. For me its an occasional, very precious experience. But I guess if I want to see Scotland, I'm going to have to take the chance and discover it in whichever form it unveils itself to me. I'm still hovering but…maybe twitching a bit more than I was. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to respond!

Posted by
340 posts

Lisa, my husband and I (also in early sixties) have been to Scotland numerous times in September, with the most recent being last year. For the most part the weather has been great. Sure there was a day or two in each trip where we had rain, but with hooded rain jackets and proper shoes we were fine. There is so much to enjoy in Scotland and England that you can easily find something that interests you if the weather is not cooperating. BTW, we don't even try driving over there - the rail system is so much better than in the States, and with a Two Together Railcard it's economical (not to mention less stressful).

Another suggestion if the weather looks to be just too bad to go up into the Highlands, you can always make your way south into the Midlands on the way to London.

BTW, the Edinburgh airport is a dream to fly into compared to Heathrow. Last year from the time we landed, it took us 25 minutes to collect our luggage, go through immigration, and get on the Airlink bus into Edinburgh.

Posted by
110 posts

Emma, your post made me laugh because…well, now I'm worrying about the weather in England too! Thanks a lot!! :) In all seriousness though, I'm sure you know its not the actually the weather that I'm worried about in the sense of getting wet or feeling chilled. Its about being deprived of the "scenic splendor." I've been in England and I know how beautiful the countryside is and I can assure you I won't be happy if it rains nonstop there either but I guess I see bad weather interfering with my enjoyment and appreciation of the Scottish highlands and beaches in a more profound way than what we have planned for England (Bath, the Cotswolds, London). I guess I just want to know that I'll find things to love in Scotland even if the weather sucks the whole time. Thanks for your post!

Posted by
110 posts

Mary, I know driving in the UK isn't like driving anywhere else but we have cherished our drives through the European countryside on previous trips and so we're going to chance it in Scotland and England (outside of the Edinburgh and London of course). What is hard for me to conceptualize is how to plan a trip, make reservations and then go in a different direction at the last minute if the weather doesn't cooperate. Especially if we don't have a car. When you visit Scotland, do you stay in one place and take day trips? If so, where do you base yourselves?

Posted by
600 posts

Lisa, I understand exactly why you are feeling the way you are. You spend a lot of time and money on a trip like this, perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so you want it to be perfect. I feel the same way. We just got back in May from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and I had done so much worrying about the weather being nice because I was mainly interested in the scenary. And in all honesty, the weather was even worse in some places than I feared, especially in Switzerland. But we had an absolutely amazing time, and what we could see was still amazing. Sure I was a bit dissapointed, but I realize that we could have had bad weather at any time of the year. I didn't for one second regret going. The landscapes were still amazing. Even with lousy weather, you would not regret taking your dream trip. We went to Scotland last September and had very nice weather. It poured one day, but otherwise just a few drizzles on and off. And the overcast skies made the landscape so green. It really is iconic for Scotland. You'll have a great time! :)

Posted by
340 posts

On a couple of trips we based ourselves in Edinburgh and did day trips, or in one case a two-day trip. This coming September (just before your trip) we're flying into Edinburgh and taking the train to Inverness for about 5 days. While there we'll be doing research, but also taking day trips to Skye and one or two other locations. We've already done "Nessie", Urguhart Castle, and Culloden. We will gradually make our way back down to England, ending up in London (which we never get tired of) before flying out of Heathrow. PM me if you want any further info.

Lisa, after reading the encouraging responses that have been posted, I hope you're feeling a little less stressed so you can start to enjoy the anticipation of a great trip!!

Posted by
380 posts

I have read that it is much cheaper to fly INTO Heathrow and OUT of somewhere else because the big tax/fee add-ons are for flights departing vs. arriving Heathrow. Does anyone know if this is true?

Posted by
340 posts

I looked at flying into Heathrow and out of Edinburgh for the same dates as doing the reverse, and the difference was about $20 less into Heathrow.

Posted by
9363 posts

Here is a description of Scotland weather from a blog post I wrote a little over a year ago. We were staying near Glasgow/Loch Lomond in August:

"The weather changes so quickly here that even though it seemed like it might rain this morning, by afternoon there were brilliant blue skies....oh wait...no, really dark clouds....well, kind of cloudy sunny....sprinkles. And it was cold....and sunny....well, misting. That is Scotland weather."

It's just part of the package.

Posted by
110 posts

Thank you to all for the encouragement to get me past my meteorological anxiety. It really was kind of a "first world problem" wasn't it? Anyway, I'm happy to say I clicked on the "buy now" button and...bought the tickets! I'm sure you'll be seeing my name pop up with more questions as my planning progresses. Yay!

Posted by
453 posts

Lisa, my 65ish wife and I flew to Edinburgh on October 14 and spent 10 days in Scotland. Your plans are similar to what ours were, we liked natural beauty, enjoy hiking and looking at the country side. The weather worked out for us for the most part. We did purchase good rain jackets, rain pants, and waterproof hiking boots, these are an absolute necessity in Scotland. We had rain a couple of days but just slipped on our rain gear and continued on. The weather seemed to come and go, much like here in Indiana. We got our rental car at the Edinburgh airport and went west to Ft. William and then the Isle of Skye. I never drove or parked in Edinburgh which was smart as I am a small town driver in the US. We based in those three locations. The weather was never too bad for us to venture out on hikes and we enjoyed music at several pubs in Ft. William, on Skye, and in Edinburgh. Strange thing was that we had to leave Skye a day early because a hurricane in the Caribbean blew up and across the Atlantic and we hd to leave early to use the bridge as high winds sometimes close the bridge, weird that a storm near the US altered our plans. I would go back in a second and would spend less time in Edinburgh and more time out in the highland countryside, dont sweat the weather, you can adjust and the natural beauty if beyond description. One thing about the driving...i suggest getting the absolute smallest car you can cram yourselves into as the roads are narrow beyond imagination and it was a challenge. Dont let anyone put you in a larger car than you order and know that a small car in the US is large or midsize over there, stay stay small..you will thank me later. I love Scotland, dont let the threat of weather or narrow roads on the left side discourage you. Get your rental at the airport and head west!! try this website to view walk/hikes of all levels of difficulty.. www.walkhighlands.co.uk for excellent direction to all things Scotland!

Posted by
4998 posts

We haven't been there in the fall, but in after visits in the spring and summer, the general experience was that it rained for part of every other day. It was sunny and mild in between. TravelSmith sells nice, good-value, packable, waterproof "Mac" raincoats with hoods. Have a great trip!

Posted by
16860 posts

I like your decision to "take the chance and discover it in whichever form it unveils itself to me." That's a useful attitude for any travel. (Reminds me of a summer stay near Mt. Denali in Alaska, a somewhat expensive and temperamental destination. Over the course of several days, the times that the mountain chose to reveal itself were few but glorious, and if it was at 5 a.m., then that's when we hopped out of bed to enjoy it.) If weather forces you to linger over lunch or pop into a museum that was not top of the list, it could be serendipity.

Posted by
5563 posts

Lisa, You'll have a wonderful time. The thing to remember about Scotland is that they weather generally moves faster than it does in the US. The fact that it's an Island and that ocean is so close means that it can rain in one glen in the next the sun is out--a bit of an exaggeration. But one thing to think about is to have a home base or two for your travels in Scotland--Edinburgh and one other in the Highlands. Then you can make day trips after checking the weather. The feasibility of this depends on timing and what you want to see.

If you're in NYC, PM and maybe we can touch base. I'm back in the city next week.

Pam

Posted by
977 posts

We were in Scotland - Highlands/Skye and Edinburgh last month. Hired a car in Inverness. Third time in Scotland, first time with hire car. For me it was the best of my 3 trips. Having the car gave us so much more flexibility to just go where the 'spirit moved us'. We spent 9 days in Scotland. It was pretty chilly most days even when the sun was out, only rained steadily for one day. Few showers here and there on other days. Heed the advice to wear warm jacket with hood (and warm thermal hat and gloves) , and definitely sturdy water proof shoes. The weather didn't stop us or lessen our enjoyment and appreciation of the magnificent landscape for one minute. Except we did cut our walk of Culloden Moor down to 20 minutes. That was our worst day. The sleet and wind was too much. The Visitor Centre there is worth an hour or two of your time. The mountains can be shrouded in mist one minute. Ten minutes later the sun is out.

Posted by
74 posts

I went to Edinburgh in March which is considered "shoulder" season. I also spent time in London during the same trip. The weather in Edinburgh wasn't great but I was able to get around and the weather added to the ambiance of the stay. The hotel I stayed in had an old "coal" fireplace which made the place smell great. I was able to get up and down the Royal Mile without a problem which was assisted by occasional stops into pubs that lined the way. I have been in London in all four seasons and the weather seems to be the same each time. A little bit of rain, followed by sunshine and then some rain again. I get the fact that you are worried about this and I have shared those concern in the past....I have been in both places during bad weather and the travel experience has still been terrific. As for the Highlands.....a little bit of fog and rain only add to the experience.