I was initially a bit anxious about the idea of cycle touring through Scotland as Winter approached but so far my fears have been unfounded and there are a good number of positive aspects. I am aware that it will still get colder still, but all these positives should stay valid.
(Celtic Winter traditionally starts on 1st November celebrated by the Samhain festival)
1. You can carry butter
…and other fridge items which would go off quickly in warmer conditions. My scrambled eggs are nice again now.
2. Good long night sleep
14 or more hours of darkness means there is plenty of time in which to sleep without getting woken up too early by morning light beaming through the tent material.
3. Lots of reading time
You can’t sleep for 14 hours each night which makes plenty of reading time. I’ve never got through books quicker than I am at the moment which is a joy, the evenings rarely feel overly long (so far).
4. No pressure to cycle for hours
It enforces a relaxed approach to cycle touring, with long days I feel a compulsion to keep cycling long into the light evenings which is especially the case if trying to wild camp discreetly (i.e. in England).
5. No midges
This is kind of mostly Scotland specific, the midges are a total pain when they are in seasons but they’re all gone by sometime in October.
Less Fewer tourists
Places that would be swarming with seasonal tourists are blissfully peaceful at this time of year. People have more time for a natter and in the remoter places might be actually pleased to see a ‘tourist’.
7. Cosy wintery feeling
Being warm when it is cold outside is nice – Hot cup of blackcurrent and a book, lovely! Evenings in the pub can be more friendly too with a bit of winter friendliness.
8. Off peak rates
As the tourist demand goes down so do prices – campsites/cabins are frequently half price or less (and also don’t need booking when they might in summer).
9. Good temperature for physical activity
There is not much opportunity for sunbathing in the current temperatures but it’s often perfect for walking or cycling. As a bonus it saves sweating too much which in turn saves water and keeps laundry requirements down.
10. Actual joy when the sun shows it’s face
This is slightly dubious reason now but I had to make it to 10 reasons. It’s true though that in summer I would have an expectation of sunshine, in winter it comes as a genuine delight to see it bursting through.