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Great Britain - September or December

Currently planning for a trip to Great Britain. Me, wife, son (12) daughter (11). I a wrestling with when to go. My wife and I have been (before kids) and visited for 2 weeks over Christmas & New Years in 2004 and LOVED it. Especially enjoyed Scotland and Wales. Finally ready to return and looking forward to touring with our kids. Last time we visited London, Edinburgh, York, Stirling, Bets-Y-Coed, and Portsmouth. Generally would like to do the same this trip, but add some time in the Highlands, visit Bath, Cardiff and perhaps Keswick. My original plan was to do 3 weeks (maybe 3 1/2) beginning in Mid December 2017 and returning around January 6 2018 with Christmas in London and Hogmanay in Edinburgh. I remember it being cold. I remember it getting dark early. I remember some things not being open (actually very few). Being somewhere other than home for the holidays was fun. None of that seemed to be a negative that would keep me from going again (obviously). However, as I am planning specific itinerary, I am thinking maybe it would be better go in a shoulder season like September. On first glance it might seem like a no brainer. The problem is that taking 3 weeks of vacation would be MUCH easier over the holidays because my job slows down considerably. In fact I might only be able to do 2 weeks if I go in September. We will return (perhaps 5-10 years) but like most travellers want to make the most of the time we have. So I guess the question is would it be that much better in September (scenery, prices, etc.) even if I have one less week? Has anyone been during both those times (or perhaps live there) that could weigh in?

Hoping all of that made sense. Thanks in advance for your comments!

Posted by
5461 posts

So, I was in Cambridge UK for business this past December--first week. It was dark when I went to work. I think that the sun came up at 9 AM. It was going down before 4 PM. In Scotland it will be later and earlier. :( That said, I would love to visit Scotland in the time frame that you suggest. You just need to realize the reality of the day light. Here's the handy dandy link to help you understand the reality.

I think that Hogmany in Scotland would be wonderful. I wonder if you should explore where the best place to be is with young children. It may be Edinburgh, but it might be some place else smaller and more intimate. Places like Aviemore celebrate the winter. Where are you from and what type of winter are your kids used to?

Pam

Posted by
4637 posts

I would go in September. Longer daylight, better weather.

Posted by
2565 posts

It's really up to you and your personal pros & cons whether to travel in Dec or Sept, but if you're going to the Lake District I'll put in a plug for Penrith instead of Keswick. I found Keswick excessively touristy. Penrith has a nice Tourist Info office and charming high street (Narrow Bar is a lovely café for lunch) and the feel of an actual functioning town. The drive to & from Keswick is scenic (see Castlerigg stone circle along the way), but so are the country roads outside Penrith, where you can see the Long Meg & Her Daughters stone circle.

Posted by
1077 posts

September definitely! A lot sites are closed for the winter starting in October. So unless you want to do a Xmas/New Year thing. Why worry about the darkness and bad weather. September can actually be hot in Scotland...or at least pleasant with heather blooming.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks everyone! I have researched a bit more and have decided to plan for the last week of August and September.

Posted by
3987 posts

You are going to be travelling during school holidays and at short notice, so you may struggle to find accommodation in the Lake District and in the Highlands. Don't visit Edinburgh in August, as the Festival is on and chances are, you won't find any accommodation. September would be much easier here.

The Lakes are best explored with a car. A car is a disadvantage in Bath. If you are travelling by train, book tickets asap as the best prices are when booked 12 weeks out.

With only 2 weeks, I would suggest London, Bath, York, Edinburgh and the Highlands.