For our indie travel journal, A Year in the UK & Ireland, we ventured to Scotland for two months over September and October 2015 – and we were blown away. Counter to popular belief about Scotland’s weather, we were met with blue skies and sunshine almost throughout, plus landscapes so golden it was as if they’d been brushed by King Midas himself.
For that reason, we think there’s no better time to visit Scotland than autumn. If you need further convincing, here are six strong incentives.
1. Golden hues
The leaves start changing colour around mid-September in Scotland. Greens turn to yellows, golds, burnt oranges and fiery reds, transforming its national parks and rural areas into spectacular autumnal sights. As there is so much wilderness in Scotland, it makes it a particularly apt place to take in these seasonal colours.
We fell for Cairngorms, in particular around Glen Clova (the front cover shot of our journal) and further north around Aviemore. Head to Loch an Eilein, a freshwater loch that is mesmerising in autumn when the trees start to turn and colours reflect in the still waters.
2. Indian summers
In the last five years or so, the weather in Scotland has seemed more pleasant over the months of September and October – we can certainly vouch for that in 2015. Recent reports predict that these months in 2016 are also set to be warmer than usual, with temperatures reaching around 25°C through September and into October.
While not all of Scotland will enjoy these Indian summer spells, select your destination wisely and you could be enjoying a balmier side to Scotland this year, and for years to come.
3. Fewer crowds
Despite these changing climactic conditions, it’s undeniable that July and August will always be busier months for tourism. School holidays dictate these peak periods, and as post-Brexit blues have forced more people to holiday in the UK, more Brits are choosing to travel around their own country, making it busier than ever. The crowds – and the peak season prices that come with them – can be easily avoided by choosing to visit Scotland in autumn.
4. See the red deer rut
In autumn each year, the red deer across the UK go through the rut – a period of mating whereby stags have to round up a suitable female. Their penetrating roar can be heard across the landscape during this time, and there are often fights between rival males trying to lay claim to the same female.
This magnificent display of nature at work can be seen across Scotland, and is often made even more stirring because of the country’s isolation. There are few things more rousing that being alone on a glen and hearing a roar far off into the distance. Head to the windswept isles of Jura or Rum in the Inner Hebrides for sure-fire rut sightings.
5. Perfect pub evenings
Although the weather might be warmer, this is still the UK and the evenings cool down drastically – but the Scottish are prepared. With cosy pubs across the land, there’s ample opportunity to hunker down in a local tavern, a traditional made all-the-more inviting by the imminent threat of cold evenings and winter drawing close.
Not only are there plenty of watering holes, there’s lots of local firewater to go round too – Scotch. Settle down in a pub on a chilly autumnal evening in Scotland with your hands curled around a glass of Islay’s finest single malt.
6. No midges!
The midges that descend upon Scotland in the summer months have been ruining holidays for countless years. You can be bitten by these little pests hundreds of times over the course of a weekend away, leading to the most infuriating evenings and so-called ‘midge misery’. Even though you can find midges all over the globe, the local species – known as the Highland midge – is recognised as particularly ferocious. In autumn, the midges have long-since departed. Sayonara, suckers.