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Scotland in March 2017

What's Scotland like in March, 19-30th?
What type of rain jacket should we pack? How cold does it get - "Down" rain jacket necessary?
Also we want to visit a pottery, and glassblowing studio in the Edinburgh/Gasglow area...any suggestions?

What should we not miss while in Scotland?

Posted by
5837 posts

UK regional climate:

Northern Scotland

This describes the main features of the climate of Northern Scotland,
comprising Highland Region, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

There is little urban development, the main towns being Inverness,
Fort William, Wick, Kirkwall (Orkney) and Lerwick (Shetland).

Eastern Scotland

This describes the main features of the climate of Eastern Scotland,
comprising the Borders, the Lothians, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, Fife
and the former regions of Tayside and Grampian.

This region includes the cities of Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.

Western Scotland

This describes the main features of the climate of Western Scotland,
comprising the former regions of Strathclyde, Central (except for
Clackmannanshire and Falkirk) and Dumfries and Galloway. It includes
the Argyll islands, such as Arran, and the southern Hebrides such as
Tiree, Mull, Jura and Islay. The region covers the western half of
both the Central Lowlands and the Southern Uplands.

There are several large towns in the region, but the only city is
Glasgow (UK's fourth largest), which has several substantial towns
surrounding it. The largest of the islands is Mull.

Posted by
5678 posts

Where are you from? If you're from Minnesota, you'll probably laugh at Scotland's winter. It can really snow in the mountains. And of course, a storm can hit anywhere. But my experience with following weather in Scotland is that it is more NYC than Minnesota. And I would never invest in a down jacket for NYC. Of course, I am from Wisconsin. :) What is more important is that you have water proof coat, because it can get very wet. To be honest it's the same in NYC. (Quiet all you people who have lived in NYC. Last year was NOT a "severe" winter in NYC. We had one big storm!)

So, there is a bit of perspective to this. I know that people in some California cities whip out the down jacket when it hits 32 Fahrenheit. Look at the descriptions above and think layers. I would rather have some winter silks than a down jacket.


Posted by
6 posts

Aloha and mahalo (thank you) Edgar and Pam for the response!
I agree, I'd rather layer than use a down jacket. Sometimes my husband uses his down vest when its in the low sixties (hehehe) - can you tell, we live in Hawaii!

Posted by
2649 posts

we have a saying in Scotland about the month of March.
In like a lion out like a lamb or In like a lamb out like a lion, basically it can be very mild at the start or end of the month but also can be wet and wild .It is not unknown for a fair bit of snow at that time of year though with milder daytime temps does not last long .What makes it feel so cold is the damp weather we get in Scotland and sometime bone chilling winds.
layers are the way to go as it can be quite mild during the day and down towards freezing at night/early morning.I use a light weight compressable down jacket which I find useful but always carry a waterproof with me, more for protection from the wind rather than the rain.
You might be lucky and get some lovely weather but in Scotland that can never be guaranteed.

Posted by
40 posts

I leave for my 3rd trip to Scotland in just a few days. While I have always travel in the Fall, I agree with the other posts that you MUST have a waterproof jacket. Last September I had a full day in Edinburgh where it.never.stopped.raining. My Eddie Bauer jacket saved me. Also make sure that you have waterproof shoes (Merrell's are my favorite) Layer, Layer, Layer. I take a "very" thin quilted vest, a fleece vest, and a sweater, plus long sleeve t shirts. And yes, I do it all with just a carry on! PS- I live in NE Ohio, so we can experience 4 seasons in one day, and our winters can be brutal. I will say that I have been to Ireland at Christmas--it was only about 40 degrees F, and I have never been so cold--it's the damp that gets you. That trip was over 20 years ago, and I was too stupid to layer. Also make sure that your jacket has a hood! Enjoy!!!

Posted by
1657 posts

This week we had mid twenties. It was August....

March can be warm, it can also be minus temperatures. Snow on the ground even at quite low levels is not uncommon.

Posted by
5837 posts

I grew up in Hawaii. The ski type jacket came out for morning temperatures below 70F. Definitely layers including breathable/waterproof rain jacket outer layer, fleece or wool mid-layer and a base layer. Breathable means something like "Goretex" type membrane and vents. Given that 70F is your normal cool, have a light fleece/wool for the warmer days (10C +) and a thicker for cold days (<10C).

Add water proof/resistant shoes/boots with wool socks, knit or fleece cap and gloves and you will be set for Scotland. And if you are still cold, it's an excuse to by a souvenir Scottish sweater.

Posted by
5678 posts

Oh, it does change everything when you are from Hawaii! :) Get some wintersilks. And have some good wool socks. Spray your shoes with silicon. I would say bring two pair of shoes so that one can dry out....Get water proof not water resistant jacket, and I like the ones with hoods.

You will have a wonderful time.


Posted by
220 posts

I'm from CA, i went to May, and it was around 44 degrees out with wind and slight rain off and on...(burr)...if you are from a "warmer" climate I'd suggest getting long underwear, long sleeved shirts, long pants (where you can fit the long underwear underneath), a down vest, a snow jacket, and possibly also a long rain/trench coat. In addition in you might consider a totes style rain slicker to go over everything in the event of a downpour. Don't forget a nice hat and gloves. I used all three when I was there, two months later than when you are planning on going....

Posted by
6 posts

Wow, mahalo all for your tips. We enjoy reading your experiences - a big help in planning! The challenge will be "packing light" with so much clothing for just a 2 week visit ... we plan to do some laundry; I purchased online Rick Steve's laundry soap that comes in sheets of paper. And yes I intend to buy me a cashmere sweater too!

Marge and Robert

Posted by
63 posts

Hi there! We were just in Scotland in July, Sheltland, Orkney, the Highlands and the Isle of Skye. My daughter spent June there before we met up with her. We are from Vancouver and very used to the rain. What we were not used to was the wind that came with it! We all had fleeces and waterproof jackets. Our daughter had waterproof pants and waterproof boots with her too as she had been on a dig. She was smug and we were envious. You could get a week of beautiful weather in March. Or you could get hail blown down into your ear from gale force winds. Not hypothetical, thank you Orkney. But, waterproofs, a sense of humour and some hearty Scottish food should help! And lots of lots of dry socks. Have fun, it is amazing.

Posted by
4982 posts

With regard to the temperature, the secret is layering. That way one has infinite adjustability. With regard to rain, be sure you have a really good waterproof coat (preferably a long one) and shoes that are at least water resistant. Take two pair of shoes so that if one gets soaked you have another to use while the first pair dries. An old trick to drying wet shoes is to stuff them with newspaper. Take an extra pair of socks in your day bag. They have saved the day more than once.

Posted by
5678 posts

Here are some tips for the packing light part.

You wear the long underwear over your regular underwear so you really only need one set--hopes that you won't even have to wear it every day!

Have couple of long sleeved shirts that pair with slacks for the next layer.

Have a fleece that is next layer

Have a waterproof rain jacket that is the top layer. I like one with a hood.

Bring some gloves, a warm scarf and a hat.

That and some wool socks--I like smart wool, but there are several brands--and some shoes that you can waterproof. I am usually hiking so have my boots and another pair of shoes. We had a long discussion elsewhere on this forum where EVERYONE said no to anything like Wellies or rain boots. I see them everywhere in NYC at the slightest hint of rain, but it's usually the commuters who won't be walking all over the city.

Also, one of my favorite souvenirs of my trips to Scotland are all the lovely warm sweaters that I picked up. It started on the first trip when I was too cold, and I kept it up thereafter. I love them. :)

You can do it! You can pack light!