Four seasons in one outfit

Ah, the glorious British summer! Many would have you believe the sun in Britain is a mythical creature, akin to the Loch Ness Monster; that raincoats are practically the nation’s security blanket, umbrellas the daily weapon of choice and that layering like an onion is a Brit art form. It’s a truism, Brits really are a masterclass in combining all four seasons in one outfit.

Dear UK visitor, don’t be fooled! Whilst the weather in Blighty can be unpredictable and summers can be exercises in extreme optimism and wishful thinking, when ‘the sun has got its hat on’ there’s no ‘hip, hip, hooray’ about it – you ought to run for the shade and the H2O. Just 10 minutes in the British sun can leave you reaching for the aloe vera. Our Blue and Green Badge Tourist Guides know a thing or two about the weather in the UK. Guiding outdoors for more than 200 days in any year, they intimately know the need for pre-planned protection against all the elements. So here’s some advice for visitors to the UK this summer.

Do pack your sunscreen. This really isn’t a mere suggestion, it’s a polite must have! Aim for SPF 30 or higher and we advise a waterproof sunscreen, not necessarily for the pool plunge, but for the perspiration. Apply the sunscreen 20-30 mins before going outside, and at least every 2 hours. Look for a 4 or 5 star UVA rating on the bottle. Check the expiry date of your sunscreen as out of date sunscreen is not effective. Remember to protect your lips – using a SPF30+ lip balm.

For the ultimate shade throwers wear a hat. Wide-brimmed hats are the Rolls Royce of summer millinery offering shade for your face, neck, and (if you’re feeling extra cautious) even your shoulders. Plus, they come in a variety of styles, so you can don a straw fedora one day and a floppy beach hat the next – all while looking fabulous. Baseball caps don’t offer the same level of protection.

Because squinting is unsophisticated, sunglasses are another must-have. They protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Choose a pair with good UV protection. Styles that wrap around, and so do not allow sun in at the sides, are better.

Let’s face it, sometimes the best sun protection is simply avoiding the sun. Ideally, you should seek shade between the hours of 11am -3pm. Use an umbrella, or indulge in an in-door guided tour in museums, galleries, stately homes, castles … during the height of the sun.

Now, let’s talk hydration. We really can’t stress this enough, H2O is your body’s best friend. Imagine your body is a theme park. Water is the rollercoaster – it keeps everything running smoothly. Dehydration is like that grumpy malfunctioning Waltzer – it leaves you dizzy, nauseous, and wishing you’d never got on in the first place. Carry a reusable water bottle everywhere you go. Think of it as your trusty sidekick on your tour adventures. Aim to drink 8–10 glasses of water a day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Ask your guide where you can top up your water supply throughout the tour. Fruity friends can help! Eat fruits and vegetables with a high water content. Beware the boozy blues. Alcohol dehydrates you and although a nice cup-of-tea is the national elixir of choice, avoid caffeinated drinks on hot days.

Overall, our advice to you is to pack with healthy scepticism – so do please bring a raincoat, pack a brolly (aka umbrella) and choose clothing that will provide strategic swaddling whatever the weather. But importantly, although you may not need to bring your bikini, you will need to pack for the sun. Also, do take the advice of your Blue or Green Badge Tourist Guide prior to your tour. Your wellbeing is important to them and they can give you some pre-tour advice about what to expect weather-wise during your tour.

So there you have it, dear visitor. With this guide you’ll be well on your way to conquering the Great British summer, come rain or shine.