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Our May 2024 Scotland trip - Orkney, Mull, Kilmartin, Edinburgh and more

Our May 2024 Scotland trip - Orkney, Mull, Kilmartin, Edinburgh and more

Old Jul 9th, 2024, 06:20 PM
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What a lovely trip report! Too bad you didn't get any sunshine on Iona; on my visit we arrived with rain but left with sun, and it was absolutely magical. Scotland as a whole is magical! I'd love to return and spend several days on Mull, as you did.

I'll have to reference your photos of Orkney when I reread George Makay Brown's Winter Tales.
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Old Jul 10th, 2024, 06:31 AM
  #122  
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Hi AJ,

Thanks for the nice comments! Glad the pix show up so well online! I sent you a pm with budgeting info. Let me know if you'd like more. Happy to help in planning!

I've heard May is considered the least rainy, but I can't really say which month is best to come weatherwise, as we've only ever been there in May. Based on our experiences though - when we were there six years ago, we had one day of rain; the rest were mostly sunny. This time, we had more cloudy days, one or two where we had drizzle or spitting showers, and that one day of full on sideways rain. So ymmv. For those rainy day, including the one on Iona, we had waterproof Columbia rain jackets. They weren't lined, but along with other layers provided enough protection from the chilly wind, and didn't leak at all. We also had rain pants (generic brand, worked well, let me know if you want the Amazon link) for our day on Iona.

As for temperatures, layers were certainly the way to go. Most days, the temps ranged from the mid-50s to mid-60s (approx. 10-15C.) On the water (ferries, on the island of Lunga, etc.) it was probably a good ten degrees cooler. We got by with three to four layers usually - a merino l/s shirt, button down l/s shirt, and our raincoats, which helped against the wind. Sometimes we added a merino heavier sweater for those colder days, and often any combination of those. Several times, though, we were wearing only s/s polos, including our first two days on Orkney, when it reached close to 70 (20C.)

After two trips there, we realize we like visiting in May, as the main tourist season seems not to have ramped up yet (although towards the end of our trip, we could certainly see it starting), and restaurants, sites, etc are easier to get into without long range reservations. We reserved several restaurants online about a week or two before we came. A couple others, like the Merkister Hotel and Adams Place, we reserved the night before - Merkister by calling and Adams Place by stopping in after dinner in Stromness the night before. Again, if you go at a busier time of year, I would probably reserved earlier.

As for hotel/b&b reservations, we started planning about a year in advance with putting together a tentative schedule, but really only solidified our plans after buying our plane tickets in early November (about six months ahead.) By then, we knew where we wanted to stay, too, so if a hotel/b&b was taking reservations AND offered flexible booking, we went ahead and booked. Very important the flexible booking, though, as we had several times we had to cancel and re-book somewhere else as our plans changed. I booked our Mull ferry in January, if I remember correctly, but certainly as soon as the summer schedule came out. Our Iona ferry I booked about two weeks ahead.

Hope this helps you decide whether or not to come to Scotland! I can't recommend it enough; its such a beautiful country.
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Old Jul 10th, 2024, 06:43 AM
  #123  
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Memejs - thanks!! Glad you liked it!

Yes, we would have liked to have seen Iona in nice weather, as we saw so many beautiful pix of it ahead of time; but rain or no, we still wanted to see the island so tried to make the best of it. Just means we'll have to come back and visit again! I would highly recommend Mull, too. Hope you get a chance to get there some day!


Now you've got me curious - I have to look up Winter Tales and see what that's all about!

Thanks for reading!
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Old Jul 10th, 2024, 06:51 AM
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AJPeabody, I know one can never predict the weather, and weather changes from year to year. Last year we visited Scotland during the first 2 weeks of June, and we had spectacular weather. Just one morning of misty weather; otherwise all sunshine and temps in the 60's and 70's. But of course there is no guarantee this will happen every year.

Regarding hotel reservations, I started making our reservations 6 months in advance, and some places were already full. We made dinner reservations for almost every night we were in Scotland. We saw people being turned away at some of the restaurants we went to.
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Old Jul 10th, 2024, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo
AJPeabody, I know one can never predict the weather, and weather changes from year to year. Last year we visited Scotland during the first 2 weeks of June, and we had spectacular weather. .

The weather changes from week to week, day to day -- often hour to hour. As I may have commented on KarenWoo's Trip rReport -- they were spectacularly lucky with the weather. I was in St Andrews in June one year with golfing friends when they almost died on the Old Course because they were dressed for 'normal' weather and it was 80°F and the sea was like glass smooth. Three days later they were playing Prestwick and it was 30 degrees colder and the wind was blowing their balls off the tees.

(80°F in Scotland feels like 95° in in northern California -- they just are prepared for that)
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