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When to go

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Considering the temperateness of the English climate, it’s amazing how much mileage the locals get out of the subject – a two-day cold snap is discussed as if it were the onset of a new Ice Age, and a week above 25°C (upper 70s °F) starts rumours of drought. However, on the whole, English summers rarely get very hot and the winters don’t get very cold, and there’s not a great deal of regional variation, as the chart shows, though in general, it’s wetter in the west than the east, and the south gets more hours of sunshine than the north. Differences between the regions are slightly more marked in winter, when the south tends to be appreciably milder and wetter than the north. Despite the general temperateness of the climate, extreme weather patterns are becoming more frequent and recent years have seen summer temperatures well into the 30s (over 90°F) and catastrophic winter and spring flooding in many parts of the country.

The bottom line is that it’s impossible to say with any degree of certainty that the weather will be pleasant in any given month. May might be wet and grey one year and gloriously sunny the next, and the same goes for the autumnal months. November stands an equal chance of being crisp and clear or foggy and grim. Obviously, if you’re planning to camp or go to the beach, you’ll want to visit between June and September – a period when you shouldn’t go anywhere without booking your accommodation well in advance. Elsewhere, if you’re balancing the likely fairness of the weather against the density of the crowds, the best time would be between April and early June or in September or October.

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