Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Weather Forecasting Services

Much like my fascination with maps, my interest in weather forecasting dates from when I was growing up on a farm in rural Ireland. With an outdoor business like that based somewhere with a changeable maritime climate, knowledge of whatever weather was on the way was crucial. Spells of dry weather come and go, and many things need doing when those episodes arrive. Often, they don’t come when they are needed and that causes farmers many headaches.

My late father’s bugbear was the making of silage and, occasionally, hay, but others had cereal crops to harvest and that was their only income for the year. Then, there is the possibility of storm damage to farm buildings and that is a concern of mine since I inherited the family farm and the land is rented out to others. Thankfully, the passage of former Hurricane Ophelia did little to my assets, but assessing its progress still was a necessary act.

My upbringing ensures an interest in weather that has me looking so keenly at forecasts that I was known as something of a weather geek at one of my workplaces. It never has extended has gone as far as setting up a weather station, though. You only need to look at Buxton Weather or Kilkenny Weather to see results from such endeavours.

Even with altered personal circumstances, the main reason for my interest remains recreational. Given that hill country often can generate its own weather, anyone with an interest in its exploration will keep an eye on weather forecasts too. Some are after Quality Mountain Days because they are working towards a mountain leadership or guiding qualification. That does not mean the sort of pleasant weather that most of us enjoy but the complete opposite. Being able to deal with poor visibility and other challenging circumstances is a must for any mountain guide since weather can change so quickly and they will be responsible for the welfare of others. An assessment of when it is time to turn back is just as important because such is the relative permanence of mountains that there is no point in putting one’s safety at risk.

My own wanderings seek to avoid such situations so it helps to check on weather forecasts. Of course, they are not infallible even with the improvements in meteorology over the decades. There still are days that are supposed to be sunny, yet the hill country that you visit may be shrouded in clag. Then, some decisions need to be made on the day using a certain amount of seasoned assessment. Turning back always is an option, as frustrating as it might be at the time and there nearly always can be other routes that can be followed. An example is when I abandoned a planned walk to Fairfield in the Lake District and instead chose to descend to Patterdale via Grisedale. The day was deprived of a walk and I ended up somewhere new, a satisfying outcome that warded off any signs of grumpiness.

Before my horizons went international, what you would have found here was limited largely to Britain, Ireland and the Isle of Man. Some of these extend their reach overseas anyway, and it probably is a sensible course to check what local providers say, that should continue to expand the list. The range of climates now extends beyond the temperate maritime one of my home islands to include more continental ones. In addition, climate and weather overview websites like Weather2Travel, Climates to Travel, Weather and Climate and Weather Spark allow for a broader assessment like picking the times of the year when overseas visits are likely to meet with the best conditions for outdoor activity, not too hot and not too wet or windy. A trip to Mallorca in December 2016 was chosen on that basis in the full knowledge that the actual weather conditions always come into play regardless of general trends.

With the mention of a mid-winter escape to Mallorca, their hours of daylight matter just as much and it is useful that numerous weather information services also include sunrise and sunset times. That stops anyone from needing to go to Sunrise Sunset or sunrise-and-sunset.com but they are there anyway for anyone who has such an interest.

AccuWeather U.K. and Ireland
AccuWeather.com International

When Online Weather existed, I was a regular visitor because of its regional weather overview maps but it got taken over by AccuWeather and that meant changes when it became AccuWeather U.K. and Ireland. Sadly, those useful overview maps are gone now, but longer-term weather forecasting is its compensation, as precarious as that can be for a grouping of islands on the eastern fringes of the North Atlantic. One thing that has stayed the course is the mountain forecasting section and it is that which guarantees AccuWeather a place on this listing, especially for the coverage of Irish mountain areas. While some in Ireland may not have the most favourable opinion of the accuracy of the forecasts, having a few different sources of information helps to build up a more complete picture. Accuweather.com International may seem a surprising inclusion when there is a local variant, but there have been times when it has been better for location forecasting than its British and Irish counterparts.

BBC Weather

You cannot avoid mentioning the BBC when it comes to U.K. weather. Everything is location-centric these days and there is global coverage but I often find myself looking for weather maps. For those, I look elsewhere yet the availability of multiple opinions on the coming weather helps to build a more holistic picture.


Though this is more useful to those pursuing marine outdoor activities rather than the land-based ones that are the subject of what you find here, so many outdoors enthusiasts mix and match the two that I have added it to this collection. It offers global coverage and I uncovered the service’s existence while reading up on Atlantic Canada, which itself has much to offer enthusiasts of water-based outdoor pursuits.


The acronym stands for Hellenic National Meteorological Service and gets added because Greece has its share of mountainous countryside. There may be nothing mountain-specific on the website itself but getting a general feel for the weather in a place from its local weather service remains valuable. That was enough to get it mentioned in a MountainViews article on walking in the country and that is enough for its inclusion here too.

Icelandic Meteorological Office

It isn’t just the atmospheric weather with which this agency has to concern itself, but also the effects of the molten rock and ash that gets spewed up into the sky from time to time. That came in most useful when two springtime eruptions caused travel disruption in consecutive years but I am one of those who prefer to see geological activity from a safe distance so it’s the weather reporting that naturally is of more interest to more. Still, staying safe in Iceland’s countryside involves being geologically aware too, so there is a bit to learn before going and knowing the climate is part of that too. Towards that end, the six-day forecasts for selected locations could come in very handy.

Isle of Man Weather

The idea of visiting this spot was in my mind for a while before I made something of it so it should be no surprise that I found the website for its weather service. For such a small island, it’s amazing how varied its weather can be, a point that was driven home to me on a Sunday during a mixed Mayday bank holiday weekend. Sea area forecasting is vital for a place like the Isle of Man so it should come as no surprise that it takes up as much space in the forecasts as it does.


This is another general weather forecasting service that came to my attention as a result of a direct approach. It is being added for completeness, though I wonder if there can be too many generic providers out there.

Lakeland Weatherline

There is a seasonal aspect to the work of this organisation in that fell top assessors take it in turns to ascend Helvellyn every day throughout the winter to assess the conditions on its top. That’s vital when the Cumbrian fells get of coating of snow, particularly given the development of cornices and the likelihood of avalanches, and when things get stormy as they have done at times this winter. There was a time when this work was supported by the Lake District National Park Authority, but government spending cuts have meant that alternative sources of funding have had to be sought. Let’s hope the service continues. As well as the regular forecasts drafted by the Met Office and winter hillwalking advice, there are photos taken by the assessors too so you can experience a little of what they see.

Met Éireann

This is Ireland’s main meteorological service and they got better in recent times too; a dedicated page for precipitation (mostly rain but hail or snow is not unknown either) radar can be found on the site now. Though more of a general service with specialisations for industries like agriculture and fishing, their forecasts do give you an idea of what you might get. Outlooks are given up to five days ahead and three-day variants are split into region and county too.


This is a latterly discovered upstart and very useful it is too. Forecasting is a little further into the future than the more cautious Met Office or Met Éireann, but everyone should know things are less certain the further ahead you look anyway. It’s a useful overview of what lies ahead and with some quirky insights too.


Somehow, I came upon this in the days before Storm Doris passed over Britain and Ireland in 2018. It collects weather warning information for most European countries so it could be useful in pinpointing severe weather before an overseas trip. The information comes from EUMETNET, a network of European meteorological services.


This Swiss operation offers a whole stack of weather information about various places in the world and also offers widgets, which is how I found out about the service on another website. In addition to location and time-specific weather for a location, there also are maps showing how the weather evolves over the course of a day and that is handy if you need to see how a band of rain is expected to move.


Though this mainly is for mountain snow and avalanche forecasting, it does cover all mainland Italy and the island of Sicily. The home page features a clickable map that brings up regional forecasts on acknowledging that you are using the service at your own risk. For some reason, this is more important on this website than others and we all should use weather forecasts in that frame of mind anyway.


As its name should suggest, this website provides weather information for the Trentino region in the north of Italy. With the Alpine mountains found in the area, it mainly is worth a look since the Dolomites have a reputation for looking stunning.

Niwa Weather

Both of these will help you keep up to date with weather conditions in New Zealand. The first of these is a commercial operation spun off from what was a government service but it has a useful mix of location and area forecasts along with rainfall radar and other mapped information. National Parks and mountain areas get special attention too, which is just as well given the stunning landscapes that draw people to those places. The second remains a government operation that also provides weather forecasting information.

Mountain Weather Information Service

There is no way that a list of weather websites for use when planning an outdoors outing can exclude the venerable MWIS. Scottish hill country has been the mainstay here since it was started so you get forecasts for Southern Uplands, Southeastern Highlands, Cairngorms and Monadhliath, Western Highlands and Northwest Highlands. Since Northern England has its hill country too is included too, there are forecasts for the Cumbrian fells and the Peak District together with the Yorkshire Dales and the North Pennines. Wales is not forgotten either, so Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons are served as well. Complimenting all of these areas is their sharing of Met Office synoptic charts for the North Atlantic whose usefulness cannot be disputed so long as you know to read the things but you always can go to the Met Office website for explanations of the various symbols on there.

Mountain Weather Forecasts

This is an international affair that picks out nearby hills according to the I.P. address of your network connection. In my case, these are in the Peak District even though Shutlingsloe and Shining Tor are absent. Nevertheless, the Roaches and Bleaklow get a mention among others so it’s worth a look for that kind of thing alone. That it has worldwide coverage is an added attraction.

Scottish Avalanche Information Service
While not strictly speaking a weather service as such, the stability of snow coverage on Scottish mountains is weather dependent so it merits inclusion here. The areas covered include Creag Meagaidh, Glencoe, Lochaber, Northern Cairngorms, Southern Cairngorms and Torridon. There are blogs for each of these areas too, so further insight is available. That said, such is the variability of snow cover that you also need to be able to form your own judgements of conditions and this, of course, needs experience with training to go with that. Of course, the need is seasonal and varies from year to year yet it never goes away either.


While I found this while doing some research for a possible visit to Austria, other countries are covered too and the U.K. is one of those with Éire not being excluded. Despite the name, any featured locations are not covered just during wintertime but around the year too so it is not just the alternation of seasons between the northern and southern hemispheres that keeps this going year-round. There are partner websites too in the form of Mountain-Forecast.com, Surf-Forecast.com, Tide-Forecast.com and Weather-Forecast.com. Some are more niche than others and all have their uses, with a source of tide times having relevance for coastal walking and alternative sources of mountain weather information striking a chord with me.

The Weather Channel
Weather Underground

Seeing IBM’s direct involvement in weather forecasting came as a surprise to me when I first realised it and both of these get included in that endeavour. The first one is a more conventional offering while the second involves a community of enthusiasts with their personal weather stations. The default location for these is in California and the temperature can be shown using the Fahrenheit scale but is easily changed to the Celsius one if it does.

The Weather Network
The Weather Outlook

While I cannot say that I have ever used either of these very much, they’re added here for a greater sense of completeness. One concerns itself with looking ahead in a more general fashion, while the rest are variations on the AccuWeather theme.

U.K. Met Office

It was the BBC’s insistence on changing how they present their forecasts that caused me to move over to the Met Office’s forecasts. In their turn, they too change things too so we have lost some elements such as previous and next arrows for weather maps. Even with this, it is the quality of the data that remains the draw and there are weather warnings while looking at flood warnings from the likes of The Flood Hub would do no harm either.

The change also has brought some good things in the form of hourly location forecasts covering 48 hours of a seven-day sweep. Usefully, international destination forecasts are among these with even Foynes in County Limerick and Shannon in County Clare being Irish possibilities. Sunrise and sunset times are included, though you can use The Time and Place to look further ahead should the need arise. Thankfully, mountain weather forecasting remains and summits of hills get five-day forecasts and a variety of youth hostels get seven-day offerings. All these are worth a look.

U.S. National Weather Service

As befits the size of the place, the U.S.A. is covered by numerous weather forecasting services, but this is the federal offering from the Nation Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As you would expect, there is information on weather warnings and weather forecasts as well as records of previous weather. Overseas territories see coverage too, as well as the fifty states of the union and you can get local conditions and predictions as well.


When it comes to exploring the Alps, German is a handy language to have, as both these websites prove. Neither are in English so you need either to speak the language or have a good online translating tool. The first of the pair is Austrian while the second includes Germany and Switzerland as well. Bavarian Radio also has a weather portal for their part of Germany and that is another place to check. Given that these all give more local points of view anyway, it might even be worth getting some knowledge of German so you can work out what they are saying in addition to the graphical presentations that they offer; it would be handy for any trips to these places so I am attempting to do the same myself.


This is more useful for those exploring coastlines rather than hill country but it still has a use. In fact, it’s geared more towards those who need to know about wind for their outdoor activities and both windsurfing and kitesurfing get a mention. Nevertheless, knowing that it’s windy can have a use in being aware of how conditions are for a coastal walk and I have enjoyed quite a few of those over the years.


It was my brother who brought this operation to my notice since they offer Android and iOS apps in addition to the website. On arriving at the latter, it shows you the wind map for your local area as well as forecasted weather. That is in keeping with its name, as is the display of an animated wind map as its primary web interface.


This is a weather forecasting service that I discovered via a forum posting complaining about what the Met Office had done to their website. Though it looks a little basic in appearance, all the weather information that you’d expect is there so I’ll be keeping an eye on how it develops.


There have been two trips to Norway in my life, so that should explain why the Norwegian online weather service finds its way on here. The website is a result of a collaboration between the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Sometimes, you may see text in Norwegian but I have found that English comes through too. That is just as well given how useful this is.