As the summer here in England is coming to an end, days are still pleasantly warm. It’s the perfect weather for getting outside and enjoying an outdoor lifestyle with the family. To give you a little inspiration and some ideas for autumn activities that will get the kids (or yourself) off the computer, here are my five favourite ways to celebrate autumn.
Uncover local history
Whether you live in the city or the countryside, I’m sure you aren’t that far away from a place of historical interest that you can visit on a day out. I recently combined a walk along some of England’s prettiest public footpaths with a visit to an English Heritage Site, Boxgrove Priory. It’s only a short drive from home but I had never been before.
If you live in England you can search English Heritage‘s website for places near you, many of which have no entrance fee. For heritage sites in Wales, visit CADW, for Scotland go to Historic Scotland and for Northern Ireland, NI Direct.
Look up to the skies
As sunset gets a little earlier each day and the evenings are still not too chilly, now is a great time to go stargazing in the UK. I’m lucky to live near the South Downs National Park, which became an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2016. You can find details on further sites here International Dark Sky Association and Night Blight. The latter also tells you how you can take action against local light pollution.
Before you go stargazing, download a stargazing app on your phone to help you identify what you are looking at. Take with you warm clothing, a torch, a blanket to lie on, some snacks and a hot drink. Once you reach the site, turn off your torch and allow a good 20 minutes for your eyes to get used to the dark.
Who hasn’t gone blackberry picking when they were young? While the summer heatwave hasn’t provided the best conditions for the berries this year, there are still plenty out there and they’re easily identifiable, making them a great choice for first-time foragers. To test whether they are ripe, hold any that are black between your fingers and thumb, then give it a gentle twist. If it is ripe, it will easily come away from the stalk. Look out for apple trees too. You’ll often find them growing by laybys where people have thrown away apple cores. Together you’ll have the main ingredients for a delicious blackberry and apple crumble! And even if you don’t collect all that many berries you can still make a delicious and nutritious wild blackberry smoothie.
Enjoy local festivals
There is a wide range of great festivals each year in the UK, from huge events like Glastonbury to smaller, often quirky local offerings, celebrating everything from jousting to food.
I recently spent a fabulous day eating my way around West Dean’s Chilli Fiesta, with lots of different dips and sauces to sample and chilli burgers, chilli chocolate cakes and even chilli sausage rolls to tempt me, as well as live Latin music to dance away some of those calories. Do a quick search on the internet for local festivals and I bet you’ll find some interesting late summer and autumn events near you.
In England, celebrate the harvest at the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, Holkham Hall, on the 1st and 2nd September. Head to Wales for the Abergavenny Food Festival on 15th and 16th September, to Scotland for the Enchanted Forest light and sound show from 4th October to 4th November and to Northern Ireland for Derry Halloween from 26th October to 3rd November when the whole city dresses up for Europe’s biggest Halloween festival.
Explore green spaces
Whether you live in the city or in the countryside, there is nothing better for you than a stroll through green spaces, be that a city park or a nature reserve — it’s a great stress buster. If it’s warm enough pack a picnic, or if the weather looks a little dodgy, make sure you have the right clothes to keep you warm and dry. I used to be a fair-weather walker but now that I’ve realised all I need is a high-quality waterproof outfit and the right footwear, I’m happy to get out there in pretty much any weather, although I must admit, I still prefer the sunshine.
What to wear this autumn to make the most of an outdoor lifestyle
Earlier this year I joined forces with the outdoor clothing company Rohan. From snowshoeing in Canada and snorkelling in the Indian Ocean to hikes in the English countryside, I’ve found their range incredibly versatile and dependable. All their clothes are designed to be lightweight, quick-drying and crease-resistant, so they are perfect for travelling.
For autumn walks I love to team Rohan’s Stria long-sleeved top with their water-repellent Icepack Vest and if the weather is dry, a pair of Ambler Trousers. If rain is forecast, I’ll swap the latter for a pair of waterproof Dry Roamers and take the super-lightweight Elite Jacket or, for chillier days, the Ascent Jacket. I’ve also found the Stowaway Jacket extremely useful when I’m not sure how warm it’s going to be, and I must admit, I love any clothes in teal.
If you are in the US visit, Rohan.com.