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United Kingdom Trip Summary and Travel Information

I originally filed this report following my 2006 trip to England and Scotland.

This was my third trip to the United Kingdom, which, like the others, occurred during the winter (when things are theoretically cheaper).  Like the other trips, I was fairly fortunate with the weather. Though it was cold, we experienced little rain, even as far north as the Orkneys.

The trip was not without its problems, many of which I listed with the original trip summary but have chosen to omit here.  However, overall it was certainly memorable, and enjoyable for the most part (especially Scotland).

Now if only the airline hadn’t lost our luggage for 10 days…

Trip Highlights

We were fortunate enough to stay with a friend who lives on farmland in Yorkshire, doubly fortunate due to the lost luggage issues. This is such beautiful countryside, most of which is accessible to hikers via a nationwide system of trails that runs through private land. It really deserves a minimum of several days in the summer. Find a B&B in a cute town or village such as Hawes and use that as a home base to explore, or travel from town to town on foot!

It’s difficult to describe how different and beautiful this landscape is. Also deserving of much more time than we gave it, this region is full of beautiful terrain which could make for some great hiking rain or shine.

Flat, quiet and way out of the way, these islands offer solitude and a little peace. Explore neolithic sites, ancient dwellings and flat, remote hiking trails. If you don’t want to take chances with freezing temps, wet weather and little daylight, your best bet is probably to stick to the summer. Besides, one of the Orkneys’ greatest attractions is their birds, much more plentiful in spring and summer.

There’s something about this city that I can’t get enough of. Perhaps it’s the vibrant mix of cultures and people, the ease of getting around (remember, I’m from Seattle), or the possibility of wandering aimlessly for a few hours and always running into either a) something interesting or b) a tube stop which will let me get to something interesting around the next corner.

I haven’t said it enough. It was freezing cold, but we experienced very little rain, and the sunny days in the Highlands and the Orkneys made the trip. The UK can be explored during the winter.

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What We Packed

Well, there was lots of warm clothing, but we didn’t see it for most of the trip. Nor did we see our toiletries, camera accessories, or the bags themselves much of the time…

Pack for cool and wet weather no matter when you go. I’m always an advocate for durable, easy-to-carry bags. Backpacks, not suitcases. Dragging a suitcase onto the tube and from the station to a hotel is a pain. Opt for something that can be carried over the shoulder or on your back whenever possible! Security is also a good idea for larger cities such as London. Get a couple of small combination locks. Combined with a bicycle security wire, these can effectively anchor your bag to any hostel or hotel furniture to prevent theft.

I once again had my MountainSmith lumbar waist pack for my camera gear, which remained with me at all times and was reliable and convenient as usual.  Note that since this trip, I have upgraded to the Think Tank Skin System with the Pixel Racing Harness.  I much prefer this over the Mountainsmith bag, though it may not be an ideal solution for city exploration.

Photo Gear

Nearly all of my equipment fit in the waist pack I mention in the packing section. The two main lenses were attached to the pack’s waist straps in their cases. The media storage device was in our backpack, but the chargers were all left in the lost bags. Note: if using a waist-type pack to tote gear or any valuables, always carry the pack in front (on your tummy) in urban settings. This isn’t entirely comfortable for one’s back, but it’s the best way to avoid giving thieves easy access to your stuff. A small combination lock on the main compartment works well as an added precaution.

See More UK Photos

Ring of BrodgarMore photos from the UK will be available soon.