Dorset and Wiltshire Climate
Our independent walking holidays in central southern England are located in the counties of Dorset and Wiltshire. This region is one of the southern most areas in the UK and as such has a favourable climate compared to other regions further north and west.
The climate of Britain is influenced by Atlantic weather systems which bring cloud and rain, especially outside of the summer months. The weather in the UK is notoriously variable and changeable from day to day. However, the south of England is often influenced by the Azores high pressure system during the summer months bringing more settled conditions at times. The weather is warm during the summer, ocassionally cool, but rarely very hot or very cold due to the influence of the Gulf Stream.
Another effect of the UK's northerly latitude (with southern England being at 50° north), is the length of days. Summer days are long, which makes eating outside on a sunny summer evening very pleasant after a day's walking.
The climate of Dorset and Wiltshire makes them an ideal location for a self-guided walking holiday. Dorset and Wiltshire in southern England have among the highest amounts of sunshine in the UK as well as the highest temperatures. It is also moderately dry, being some distance from the more exposed western regions such as Cornwall and Devon. Average maximum daily temperatures during our walking holiday season vary as follows: April -13°C; May - 16°C; June - 19°C; July - 22°C; August - 22°C; September - 18°C; October - 14°C. Higher altitude locations such as on the chalk downs are a couple of degrees lower than these averages. Most villages and towns are in the valleys, with only Shaftesbury being located at relatively higher altitudes. In addition, how you feel will be affected by the wind speeds which are greater on the hills and by the Dorset coast. Night time temperatures in southern England are mild, and sometimes cool or warm with an average of 12°C in July and August.
The south coast regions of England including Dorset enjoy more sunshine than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, receiving on average of up to 1800 hours per year. Sunshine levels on the Dorset coast during the summer season tend to be high as they can escape some of the cloud that builds up inland due to heat of the day convection. This cloud can be more pronounced over the hills. Sea breezes, will keep the Dorset coastal trail pleasantly fresh for your walking holiday in England even on the warmest summer days.
Average annual rainfall in Dorset and Wiltshire varies according to location and topography. South Dorset, especially at its eastern end is drier than areas further north and west. Hilly areas also tend to receive more rain. The drier regions have as little as 740mm of rain per year which is no more than for example many regions of central France such as the Beaujolais. However, the length of period between rainy periods is slightly less. The hills or downs of Dorset and Wiltshire have higher rainfall totals reaching over 1100mm per year. In central southern England the driest months coincide with the two warmest months of July and August, although in general, April to September is the driest period. October is the wettest of the months where we run walking holidays in England.
When walking in Britain you'll rarely experience severe or unpleasant weather for long periods. The weather tends to change rapidly, which means that clean and clear air is often experienced allowing for good visibility.