When is the best time to visit Scotland?
A question we deal with on regular basis from our clients is, “When is the best time to visit Scotland?”. The answer is of course, it depends entirely what you want to do. Specific activities have peak times such as during the rut in mid October for red deer stag stalking, October – November for pheasant shooting, October / November for salmon on the Tweed, August for the Edinburgh Festival, August for the roe buck rut etc. etc.
This is all very well and good for those with specific interests, but we recognise that a lot of visitors want to know when the best time to visit Scotland to get a taste of everything. This is where we enter a slightly subjective area but it is my personal opinion (and Ian our director may disagree with his specialist salmon fishing emphasis) that…..
September is the best time to visit Scotland
This is quite a bold statement (and there are some caveats to it) but the evidence bears it out. Since River & Green opened in 2008, September has always been our busiest month of the year and the reason I think is the crossover of the various fishing, hunting, wing shooting and golfing opportunities, combined with the leftovers of the summer weather (more on this later). The opportunities available in September are:
Salmon Fishing: A great time of year for it in terms of catches and weather. All rivers are still open (enabling fly-fishing and spinning) and the prices are still at a reasonable level. See more details on the fishing seasons here.
Wingshooting – Partridge: The season opens September 1st and it is excellent sport. Set in Stunning countryside and a real challenge for even the most experienced shots, partridge shooting is an often overlooked highlight of country sports in Scotland. Partridge are also delicious!
Wingshooting – Grouse: The season starts on August the 12th and by September is in full flow. Technically the season runs until 10th December but any later than September (maybe early October) and the birds become too wild and wily to be able to get an effective shot in on a walked up day. Grouse shooting is for experts only as the grouse fly low and fast adding an element of danger.
Red Deer Stag Stalking: The Monarch of the Glen, the icon of Scottish hunting (or stalking as we call it in Scotland). A red deer stag is the ultimate ambition for many hunters on a trip to Scotland. By mid to late September all the stags should be hard of horn and it’s a great time to stalk with a good chance of decent weather to give you uninterrupted views of the stunning hills and glens of the Highlands. Being before the rut stalking is challenging but precisely because it is before the rut, the demand is not as high so we can take bookings with slightly less notice (5 – 6 months rather than a full year in advance). Hunting seasons here
Golf: Yes, golf is of course available throughout the year, but September offers the visiting golfer the best opportunity to play all the right courses without the peak visitor number of the “Summer” months of June / July / August.
Sightseeing: September is the best time to visit Scotland if you are wanting to combine sightseeing with your sporting activities. The peak crowds of the summer have left but all the landmarks , castles, distilleries etc. are still open. As you go later into the winter many attractions close for the off-season but in September they are still very much open for business.
Weather: Now this is the contentious bit and this is my opinion only but……. based on my own amateur observations over the years, the best weather is usually in September. Many people see August as the peak of the summer but more often than not it can be a bit of a wash out. Granted when the weather is nice in August it is hotter than September but if you are considering outdoor activities, the relative calm and pleasant weather of September would be my suggestion.
Firstly, on the weather – Scottish weather is notoriously fickle, which is why I normally steer clear of saying one month is better than another so, if the weather this September is terrible… I apologise! Really the only reliable weather forecast comes out about 1 week in advance, we recommend the BBC weather as the best one to keep an eye on.
Secondly, on fitness – This is something that doesn’t get raised very often but, for the September hunting opportunities, a bit more fitness is required.
Walked up grouse is tough going, there’s not getting around that. Walking all day through the heather needs strong legs and good lungs.
Partridge shooting is not dissimilar to walked up grouse as there is some crossover in the terrain covered, perhaps marginally easier going but I’d still recommend it only to those who don’t mind walking almost all day either uphill or along the side of hill. Driven partridge is of course an alternative or those who want to do some wing shooting in September but don’t have the fitness. Driven partridge is a little bit more expensive and needs to be done in groups of 6 minimum.
Stag stalking of course needs a high level of fitness at all times of year but, in September, the stags are harder to find than in October during the rut, so it is often a much longer day on the hill
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September may be the best time to visit Scotland for many people but we are experts in tailor-made itineraries so, whatever you are looking for from your vacation in Scotland, we are the best people to speak to to deliver exactly the dream vacation you are looking for!