British weather patterns are highly changeable and difficult to predict… that has got to be the biggest understatement ever!!!!! As a rule it is not unlikely to have 3 seasons worth of different weather during the space of 1 day, especially at this time of year, but also not unheard of in the summer. In fact I’ll never forget one beautifully sunny June day I was wandering around London soaking up the warm sunshine and suddenly there was a shower of hail stones!
I was with my last group in London at the weekend and we were having weather of 20 degrees (we speak in Celsius here so for all you Farenheit speakers that’s actually 68 degrees), but yet we arrived at Hadrians Wall on Tuesday morning and the snow was driving at us horizontally as we trudged out to Housesteads Roman Fort (see photo) across the fields from the car park! In fact there was a notice on the wall at the entrance building saying that it would be 3 to 6 degrees celsius that day, so I told my group that there was no chance of the snow laying on the ground… we eventually got back on the road towards Scotland and within a few minutes the snow on the ground was so thick that it felt like we were in Narnia. Curiously this group was from southern USA and used to much higher temperatures so this was a real novelty but they really got a baptism by fire into the extremes of British weather. The fact was that it looked totally stunning when the wind wasn’t howling at us, and unless you live in parts of the country such as Scotland and the north of England, it’s a rare privilege to see the countryside blanketed in the white stuff.
The number one British pastime is of course to talk about the weather and currently everyone is still talking about how mild our winter has been this year, so storms like this are actually most welcome not least because we’ve missed out on seeing it so far, but more importantly because even in early April we’re already verging on drought with river and reservoir levels unusually low.
I always pre-empt groups travelling to the UK by telling them to bring a selection of different warm and cold weather wear for these reasons alone, regardless of the season and this was definitely the best advice this week. But even in the summer, evenings can regularly be cold. You should also not put 100% of your faith in weather reports but take them all with a pinch of salt as weather forecasting is definitely not an exact science as a good friend who is a weather girl once told me; for example the forecast for our time in Edinburgh the other day when I checked it the previous evening was to be cold but clear and sunny all day… the following day it was grey and rainy in the morning, and just grey with sunny spells in the afternoon… barmy isn’t it!!!
Bottom line when it comes to British weather… hope for the best, expect the worst, prepare for both!