Going to the Scottish Highlands in Spring or Autumn? Well, I have some suggestions for what to wear…at least for a woman. And for those of you planning to go with me next Spring, this might help your packing!
But first, let’s talk weather. While Spring is the season for daffodils, bluebells and rhododendrons with a milder breeze, it’s not summer. You can expect temperatures in the mid 40s to mid 50s (7°C to 13 °C) and quite likely there will be rain (though April is considered the driest month).
Then there is Autumn. I have been to the Highlands in September when it was 70°F every day, but by October, autumn generally brings temperatures similar to Spring (46°F to 57°F, 8°C to 14°C).
My last trip to Scotland was for three weeks in October. Despite the occasional sun, we had rain every day. It began to rain soon after I took the picture below of the Kintail Mountains. I was hoping for beautiful fall colors on that trip but, alas, it was too warm for the trees to turn.
The good news about Spring and Autumn is that you will forgo the dreadful swarming midges that come with summer. (In Summer Warrior, my story set in the Isles in the 12th century, there were midges!) And rain has one advantage…it gives you lots of rainbows!
Ok, so what to wear. I will tell you what I packed that worked well for me. I wore everything I brought. It all fit into one medium size suitcase. I did laundry three times, once a week. Some inns will do it for you or you can find laundry services in larger towns (like Oban on the Argyll coast). One caveat: watch the weather forecast closely the week before you depart as it may change and suggest some alteration in what you pack.
what I looked like in “full kit” standing at the Iron Age fort of Dun Beag on
Skye, the Black Cuillin hills in the distance. I removed my beanie hat for the
pic but the wind was cold.
Plan to layer. I like the comfort of leggings but wanted my legs to be warm so I chose Athleta Polartec fleece-lined leggings. They kept my legs super warm. These are the same leggings I wear on my morning beach walks in the winter when it can drop into the 40s. Most sizes sell out by Christmas so grab them in the fall. Click the image to see on Athleta.
For what to wear on top, I recommend a mid-weight long-sleeved tee shirt or, better yet, a lightweight, stretchy turtleneck. My favorite is the Chels turtlenecks by AG Jeans. I have four of them. They wash well, never lose their shape and are long. You can find them on sale a few times a year. Click the image to see on AG.
If you plan to be outdoors, climbing over castle ruins or just enjoying the scenery, and the rain is coming down in buckets, you will want to be waterproofed on your feet, legs and body. For that, this was my gear:
First a waterproof jacket. I chose Marmot’s 3-in-1 Goretex jacket because it has a
liner jacket that can be worn separately. I wore both jackets, separately and
together. Click on the image to see it on Marmot.
For your feet, I recommend waterproof tennies (and Wellies if you intend to be climbing around in marshy ground around castle ruins or splashing through deep pools of water). Click on the image to see on Zappos.
Take enough socks for one week.
For walking in deep muck, I chose Hunter Wellies, guaranteed for two years.
The refined, tall rain boots fit my narrow feet, but they have regular widths, too. These are the same boots I wear on the beach in winter. Click on the image to see at HunterBoots.com
To keep my legs dry, I went with GoreTex pants I could wear over my leggings. I bought Berghaus Goretex rain pants. I noticed others in Scotland had them, too. Since I have long legs and not much of a fanny, I bought the men’s and they fit perfectly. Click on the image to see the women’s.
I took a ball cap and a knit beanie with me to wear under my jacket hood (or without the hood if the rain was light). For the beanie, I recommend a lined one to keep out the wind (yes, it’s often windy). Amazon has many, some with pom poms. Here’s one without. Click on the image to see on Amazon.
Lastly, I took three woolen scarves, my concession to fashion. Of course, since I was doing research for The Clan Donald Saga, I often wore a MacDonald tartan scarf (pictured below). I purchased it from Heritage of Scotland, which has great sales in April and at end of the season, but you can also find many scarves on Amazon.
So, there you have it. You can pick your own layers, of course. And watch for sales!
I hope my experience has helped you. I’ll leave you with this picture I took of sunrise over Loch Gair to inspire your trip.
If you want to join me and a small group of my readers in the Highlands and Isles in Spring 2023, contact me.