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England Weather, climate and geography

Weather and climate

Best time to visit

The weather in England is temperate with mild summers and winters, influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and the warm Gulf Stream. Rainfall is fairly evenly spread throughout the year, though the west is wetter than the east. Contrary to the stereotype, most cities across England actually have less average precipitation than other European cities.

England is a population destination year-round with many attractions and activities to occupy you whatever the season, although spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are widely considered to be the best time to visit England due to the mild weather and sunny days. Summer (June to August) in England is lovely but can crowded, particularly in popular holidaying spots such as Brighton, Devon and Cornwall. Winter (December to February) tends to be grey and wet. Snow is rare, which is why a cold snap with a small amount of snow can cause problems with transport and infrastructure. As most cities decked out in exuberant lights leading up to Christmas, December is a good month to visit too.

London is the capital and the largest city in England. Located in south England, London has a temperate oceanic climate and is one of the warmest places in the UK due to the heat stored in buildings and pavement. Greenwich, an area within London, enjoys an average high of 8°C (46°F) in January and 23°C (74°F) in July. It also receives an average precipitation of 557 mm (22 in) a year. In comparison, the average precipitation received by Amsterdam and Paris is 805mm (32 in) and 641mm (25 in) respectively. For more information, see this Weather in London and the best time to visit guide.

Manchester, located about 260km (160 miles) northwest of London, is a few degrees cooler than London. In July, the average high is 21°C (70°F) while the average low is 14°C (57°F).

Required clothing

The weather in England is mild and temperatures do cool down considerably in the evenings, so a light jacket is always useful. Thunderstorm doesn't happen often, though it may drizzle on and off, so a rain jacket and appropriate footwear are useful too. During summer, shorts, sandals and t-shirts are fine, but bring extra layers as weather can be changeable. Do layer up if you are travelling beyond London, particularly to the north as it is always a few degrees cooler than London.

Geography

Mainland England makes up almost half of the British Isles. There are also several small islands including the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly both of which lie off the south coast. In the south, much of the landscape is made up of undulating green hills given over to agriculture, with the South Downs and Cotswolds being prime examples of this. The east and north of England is flat and low lying – most notably in the east are the Fens, flat marshland that surrounds the East Anglian towns of Cambridge and Peterborough. The coastline is endlessly varied, with northern England's coast made up mainly of flat sand dunes, whereas the south is notable for the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, a World Heritage site where the cliffs span 153km (95 miles) and 185 million years of history, and numerous fossil discoveries have been made.

Further north, the landscape becomes more dramatic. The mountain ranges of the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District in the northwest afford picturesque views of valleys, lakes, forest and mountains, making both destinations popular with hikers. The Pennine mountain range (also known as the 'backbone of England') bisects the northern region, creating a natural divide between the North West and North East. Traversed by the Pennine Way, the UK's longest footpath, hikers can get up close to one of the most scenic in England and take in one of the most scenic parts of England.

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