Autumnal British holidays you have to try

Richard Mellor

Keen to prolong summer’s positive energy and emphasis on outdoor activity? Then consider heading off on one of the UK’s best autumnal adventures

Take a hike

There’s no better time: paths are firm after many a dry day, temperatures remain mild, crowds mercifully thin and much of the foliage turns russet-coloured. Aim to finish or stop in a cosy pub for maximum enjoyment.

There are numerous options, but particularly enchanting and underrated are the Yorkshire Wolds, Somerset’s Quantock Hills and, along the Welsh Border, the Wye Valley. Hurry and you might also catch the last wild heather blooms in Scotland’s Cairngorms.

 

Go birdwatching

October is a time of migration for many birds – some leaving Britain, others passing through or arriving – meaning dramatic scenes in the sky. 

Perhaps most exciting of all is the sight of thousands of light-bellied brent geese returning to Northern Ireland’s sprawling Strangford Lough—not far south of Belfast—for the winter.

Elsewhere, the broad beaches of Norfolk promise spoonbills and sandpipers, and Dorset’s Portland Bill is usually the last stop-off for avians journeying south to warmer climes.

 

Delight in deer

Another of Britain’s autumnal animal spectacle sees red and roe deer stags rutting – fiercely locking or rubbing antlers—to try and impress onlooking females.

Exmoor in Devon—where Red Stag Safari runs tours—and Galloway Forest Park in southwest Scotland are two good places to observe the magnificent beasts, as is Cheshire’s Lyme Park.

Search for wild mushrooms
What’s that sound? Why, it’s fungi-foragers rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of summer’s end. The subsequent season brings bursts of mushrooms on woodland floors around the land.

Amateurs are directed to Rhayader in Mid Wales, where Fungi Forays hosts all-day guided masterclasses until October 18. Other bountiful spots worth trying are Penn Wood in the Chilterns and Somerset’s steep-sided Goblin Combe. Consult the Woodland Trust for advice.

 

Peep at leaves

Leaf-peeping is the name for journeys—by car or on foot—to admire autumn colours. There are lots of good options for this around Britain, but few compare to Westonbirt Arboretum in the Cotswolds, where reddening acers are accompanied by a treetop walkway and a devoted trail.

If that’s too far, consider also Brede High Woods in East Sussex, central Scotland’s Birks of Aberfeldy, Bradgate Park in Leicestershire or Shropshire’s Forest of Dean, all of which promise glorious, fiery hues. 

 

Learn to make scrumpy

The apple harvest means it’s time to produce juices and cider—and you can join in. Upper Neatham Mill Farm in Hampshire runs overnight courses, while Cornish firm Fowey Valley gives masterclasses on selected Saturdays.

 

Drop a line

Not all British fishing seasons close after September. At West Wales’ Teifi Estuary, salmon are usually still running upstream well in October, and ditto at the Dee Valley east of Snowdonia.

You’ve a good chance of snagging perch, pike or chub while fishing Britain’s canal network in October and November, too. Look to use worms as bait: with these now getting washed into the water, fish will be used to eating them.

 

Ride waves

On Britain’s shores, autumn sees bikinis, lotions and sandcastles replaced by boards, laybacks and swells. Never more reliable, the waves are accompanied by a social season of sunset barbecues and excited pubs.

North Devon and Cornwall have the largest wetsuited communities, chiefly around Woolacombe and Newquay respectively, but not the monopoly. Rival scenes await in North Yorkshire, around Portrush in westerly Northern Ireland and on Wales’ Gower Peninsula.

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