My friends and I are planning to go to the UK in the break from uni this christmas. We want to go for a month or two so we have no choice but to come in what is englands winter, as its the only time of year we have the time off to do so.
As students who aren't too keen on the idea of backpacking and staying in hostels we are considering renting a camper-van and touring round ourselves. It is a cheap compromise between hostels and b&b's and means that our transport is also covered, as I know trains from city to city in the UK are not exactly cheap.
The idea of the cold doesn't bother us as far as temperatures are concerned, we are able to get cold weather gear and live in a colder part of australia ourselves and are therefore accustomed a bit more to the cold.
Our main concern though is that there may be lots of snow at this time of year, and we are not really confident driving in snowy conditions. Is the snow a huge burden at this time of year? We were planning on coming in January and going home late February, but heard that this is probably the worst time to come if we're driving around. The earliest we would be able to come would be december, would this even make much difference?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Weather is unpredictable.
In 2010-2011, there was lots of snow from early November onwards.
However winter 2011-2012 was unusually mild till recently.
Snow does get cleared but you can be stuck somewhere in very cold weather for days.
Jan-Feb are the worst months. December and early as possible should be better, remembering that some places will be shut between xmas and the new year.
As to driving, take it slow. Ice can be so slippery that even though you brake, your vehicle continues on it's way. In driving snow you can see little as your wipers struggle to clear your windscreen and visibility may be down to several meters or less.
Generally, the further north you go in Britain, the worse the weather will be. Higher of course is bad too. There is lots and lots to see in southern England if weather is bad.
In your place I would pick up some thermos flasks cheap from a £1 or 99p shop in Britain and keep them filled with boiling water if weather gets bad, in case you do get stuck. Also pick up a British or English road atlas. Remainder book shops and charity shops sometimes have them very cheap.
Campervans do struggle a bit in city centres so maybe park up and get a bus in? You can save on parking fees then.
Be aware of scum culture who will happily steal from your campervan or even the vehicle itself if they get a chance. Leave nothing valuable in it if you are not in it. And be careful of city centres at night, notably Fri, Sat and Sun nights. And do not drink and drive.
Snow at least has traction. Black ice is what you really have to look out for. Black ice can't be seen. One minute you are diving along, the next you are doing doughnuts heading for the side of a cliff! Just pay attention to travel warnings and drive at a speed for the conditions. Usually you will have options to take main roads which are kept open and salted.
Thanks guys, this advice was really helpful.
We've amended our plan and are heading off in early december and staying till just after new years. We're also going to rent a small car instead and just stay in hostel's and B&B's. We didn't think it would be cheaper but after sitting down and getting quotes we found we'll save about 1,000 AU.
Dodger - we'll definitely be sticking to main roads lol, not to keen on the idea of doughnuting off a cliff!
If you have any places that you think should be added to our list of things to see while we're over there please let us know!