The traditional destination to enjoy the wonderful colours of autumn or Fall is New England. But the old country doesnt put on too bad a show either, says travel editor David Wickers
Red deer stags will be gathering in the sheltered glens of Scotland for the annual rut, a loud and often violent ritual defined by echoing roars and the clatter of antlers. Among the finest locations to hear and view the mating ritual are the Perthshire Highlands. McKinlay Kidd (0844 804 0020; www.seescotlanddifferently.co.uk) has a four-night Scottish Wildlife Holiday that includes a trip into the mountains for a spot of Photo Deer Stalking with a private gillie and Land Rover, from £525pp B&B with dinner on two nights.
David Wickers also recommends Inntravels (01653 617000; www.inntravel.co.uk) independent, well-wooded walking break, Classic Yorkshire Dales. Its priced from £345pp and includes four nights B&B, one dinner, two picnics, maps, notes and luggage transfers/>
Big, fat, orange pumpkins are synonymous with autumn, whether for consumption or for carving into Halloween jack-o-lanterns. At Spalding in Lincolnshire, Europes biggest grower, David Bowman, produces some two million a year and organises the annual Pumpkin Parade (8 October), together with live music, childrens fancy dress, a fun fair and market stalls.
David Wickers also recommends www.pumpkinparade.co.uk website for advice on how to grow your own.
Among the 18,000 trees at Westonbirt (01666 880220; www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt), the 600-acre National Arboretum near Tetbury, is Britains largest collection of Japanese maples, which is a number-one magnet for leaf peepers. Anyone looking for a perfect Fall weekend in the area should also see the bonfire of colours at the nearby Batsford Arboretum (01386 701441; www.batsarb.co.uk), known as the Cotswold Secret Garden.
David Wickers also recommends checking for offers on the
Cotswolds Inns and Hotels website, www.cotswold-inns-hotels.co.uk.
Head for rural Herefordshire, the traditional home of cider, whose presses are the biggest squeezers in the world. Follow the official Cider Route (www.ciderroute.co.uk), which links several of the countys producers, many open to visitors. The apple harvest will be in full swing in October, with the season coming to fruition at the Flavours of Herefordshire Food Festival being held on 24 and 25 October (www.visitherefordshire.co.uk).
David Wickers also recommends a night or two at Broome Farmhouse, near Ross on Wye (www.broomefarmhouse.co.uk), a homely, three-bedroom B&B with a restaurant and grand views over 45 acres of orchards. Prices from £25pp.
Who was Robin Hood? At the last count, there were 12 candidates, not counting Russell Crowe, and theres even some doubt if his native woodland was Sherwood Forest (01623 823202; www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk). But why ruin a good story? Sherwood Forest today may not be quite the arboreal spread it was when Robin and his Merry Men were (or were not) at large, but you can still see the 800-year-old, 30-foot diameter Major Oak where they supposedly gathered: just follow one of the several walks from the Country Park visitor centre.
David Wickers also recommends the Woodland Trust (01476 581135; www.woodland-trust.org.uk), which manages more than 1,000 woodlands, each a fiery feast of autumnal colours.
The luxury timber cabins belonging to Forest Holidays (0845 130 8223; www.forestholidays.co.uk) put you in the heart of the British Fall. In September, its new Forest of Dean site opened, with 76 brand new, contemporarily designed cabins joining those in Cornwall, Scotland and Yorkshire. Activities include guided walks with a Forest Ranger and bike hire, plus canoeing, abseiling, fishing, climbing and guided mountain biking. Prices start from £302 for a four-night midweek stay in a cabin sleeping four (they sleep from two to eight), or £329 for a three-night weekend break.
David Wickers also recommends Kielder Forest (www.visitnortheastengland.com) in Northumberland, not just for its trees but as a great location for gazing up at the clearest and least light-polluted skies in the country.
If you cant tell a lawyers wig from a puffball, you might want to go on a fungus foray in the Elan Valley (www.elanvalley.org.uk). Many of the 53 varieties found in Wales can be seen, including a couple of deadly varieties, so play it safe on a two-day guided break (www.fungiforays.co.uk), which includes an evening of tastings followed by a mushroom feast at the Horseshoes guesthouse in the little market town of Rhayader. From £295pp including accommodation, meals, guidebook, handmade basket, collecting knife and local transport.
David Wickers also recommends a trip to Skomer Island off the coast of Pembrokeshire, where theyre expecting more than 150 seal pups this autumn (www.skomer.co.uk).
The 43rd annual World Conker Championships (www.worldconkerchampionships.com) will take place on Sunday, 10 October on the village green in Ashton, near Oundle in Northamptonshire. The 300-plus competitors who are not allowed to bring their own prize specimens but have to fight with what they are given come from all over the world and there are competitions for ladies, gents, teenagers and children. Other attractions including folk singers, morris and clog dancers, trampolines and a variety of stalls.
David Wickers also recommends spooky Halloween events in English Heritage castles, including Kenilworth in Warwickshire, Dover Castle in Kent and Pendennis in Cornwall (www.english-heritage.org.uk).
Although most people consider spring and summer the prime time for gardens, several run by the National Trust (0870 458 4000*; www.nationaltrust.org.uk) are a riot of blazing autumnal colour. Among the best displays are those at Stourhead in Wiltshire, with its masses of mature trees; Ashridge in Hertfordshire, where the woodland runs along the main ridge of the Chilterns; Castle Ward in Irelands County Down, which overlooks the shores of Strangford Lough; Coniston and Tarn Hows in Cumbria, where the larch and broadleaf trees bring stunning hues; Crafl wyn in Snowdonia, which has walks through the estate woodlands; Dovedale in Derbyshire, which becomes carpeted in brilliant leaves; and Gibside in Gateshead, with its woodland and riverside walks.
David Wickers also recommends seasonal treats such as Golden Cider Soup and Autumn Pudding served in many National Trust cafés.
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