With fewer crowds, dazzling colours and the likes of harvest festivals, Halloween and Bonfire Night to enjoy, this is one of the loveliest times to explore the great outdoors with kids. We’ve picked out some of our favourite autumn family walks around the UK, so grab your wellies and head out for seasonal stroll.
1 // England Coast Path
The British seaside really is your oyster when you head out on this, the world’s longest managed and waymarked coastal path. Although not scheduled for completion until 2020, its 2,796 miles embrace several existing trails, including the South West Coast Path, with its fantastic scenery, heritage, geology and wildlife. And — at this time of year — you might luck out with great weather and seas still warm enough to swim in. One of our top walks in this region is the Otter Valley Wildlife Walk on East Devon’s Jurassic Coast — a wild nature reserve with hides and viewing platforms for spotting everything from dragonflies, kingfishers and moths to butterflies, frogs, fish and waders. Pack your binoculars, because in the autumn, bushes are busy with birds looking for berries, while migrating birds begin to gather at the river mouth.
2 // Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Gloucestershire
Dubbed ‘a magical tree garden’, the Westonbirt is a true natural wonderland, with around 15,000 trees from different areas of the globe. Not only is this botanical collection at its most colourful from September to November, but it hosts a range of family events and activities, from woodland scent making to natural dye creation; plus, there are two seasonally inspired trails to explore.
3 // Formby red squirrel walk, Merseyside
Autumn is one of the best times of the year to catch the elusive and native red squirrel, which thrive in the pine woodlands of this beautiful corner of the North East. The easy, dog-friendly walk takes around an hour — but make time for a ramble along the sweeping sands with its rustling grasses and gentle dunes.
4 // Dunham Massey ancient trees walk, Cheshire
Fallow deer and a 16th-century watermill can all been seen as you discover one of England’s finest collections of ancient trees at this historic estate. Autumn is particularly dramatic here, with the sound of bucks locking antlers ringing out during the annual rut, and the katsura tree’s candy-floss scent filling the air in the garden as it sheds its bright yellow leaves.
5 // UFO Trail, Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk
This mixed woodland was the location of an alleged UFO landing in 1980, and whether you believe the tale or not, it’s fun to follow the three-mile trail, with its UFO sculpture and information points on the infamous incident. Other diversions — aside from the beautiful autumn foliage — are play areas, and bird life ranging from nightjars to woodlarks, not to mention pony rides and free barbecue equipment.