22 things to see and do in England this autumn
Follow in the footsteps of a Beatles legend in Liverpool or cycle the cider circuits of Herefordshire
Goodbye summer, hello autumn. The days may be getting shorter but that doesn’t mean it’s time to hibernate just yet.
There’s plenty of things to see and do in the next few months and the VisitEngland tourist board has put together its list of autumnal escapes.
Highlights include a John Lennon-inspired music tour in Liverpool, night walks at Exmoor National Park and cycling the cider circuits of Herefordshire.
Here we take a look at the best autumn escapes in England.
Emerging artists: Class of 2020 at The Hari, London
Taking over The Hari’s public spaces is a contemporary exhibition celebrating emerging talent from London art schools. The Class of 2020 exhibition offers a platform to those who sacrificed their potential career-launching degree shows due to the lockdown this summer.
Until February 2021; thehari.com
‘John Lennon at 80’ music tour, Liverpool
Follow in the footsteps of music legend John Lennon, who would have celebrated his 80th birthday on 9 October. With a city centre packed with Beatles landmarks, the leafy suburb of Woolton helps you discover Lennon’s life. There you can walk around Mendips, the house he grew up in, visit his beloved Strawberry Field (recently opened to the public for the first time) and see St Peter’s Church, where he first met a young man called Paul McCartney.
Cecily Brown Exhibition, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
The Cecily Brown Exhibition features all new work created by the New York-based artist which is inspired by the Oxfordshire Unesco World Heritage Site. Brown’s large-scale, sensual, semi-abstract artworks have cemented her as one of the most important painters of her generation.
September to January; blenheimpalace.com
Pop-up camping at Blenheim Palace
Make your visit to Blenheim an overnight stay by camping in the Palace grounds at Caravan Club’s pop-up site. Witness sunset over Blenheim as you settle in for the night and awaken as the sun rises over the magnificent grounds and gardens.
Until 1 November; prices from £23.10 per night (includes two adults, Caravan Club members offer); caravanclub.co.uk
Wild Wookey adventure caving, Somerset
Set in some of the most spectacular caves in the UK, test your adrenaline levels with Wild Wookey adventure caving at Wookey Hole. The experience includes abseiling, traversing over deep water, Via Ferrata climbs, awesome views, a boat river crossing, zip line exit and the chance to see rare geological and archaeological treasures.
See the seal pups at Blakeney Point, Norfolk
Autumn marks the start of seal pupping season. Join a Beans Boat crew and sail close enough to witness the mothers and their new pups as they laze on the rocks.
From £13 for adults and £7 for children aged 14 and under; visitnorthnorfolk.com
Autumn Apple Day, Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre
In the heart of the Shropshire Hills, autumn brings a treasure trove of delights with hazelnuts, whinberries, mushrooms, apples, pears and Shropshire prune damsons all growing in the meadows. Join the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre team for Autumn Apple Day on 25 October and take part in tours of the orchards, apple pressing and jelly making demonstrations. Enjoy homemade cider or apple juice and deliciously prepared apple delights in the café.
Free entry, 25 October; shropshirehillsdiscoverycentre.co.uk
Night walks and stargazing, Exmoor National Park
Join a local astronomer for a guided walk through Exmoor, an International Dark Sky Reserve and home to some of the darkest skies in the country. Witness the sights as you walk under the blanket of stars, with interesting insights and a tasty supper in a nearby pub to finish up the evening. As part of the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival from 16-31 October, the walks will be run by Wild About Exmoor and take place on various dates throughout the month.
From £18 for adults and £10 for children; wildaboutexmoor.com
Autumn colours on the English Arboretum trail
From the National Memorial Arboretum to Batsford and Westonbirt, a walk in an English woodland is a must this autumn. Forestry England sites across the country offer a wealth of seasonal trails and events. For something different, try a Foraged Colour Workshop at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire on 3 October, where a sustainable artist will be teaching eco-dying techniques.
£75 for the Foraged Colour Workshop; forestryengland.uk
Kayaking on the Tyne, Newcastle/Gateshead
Explore the sights of Newcastle and Gateshead from a whole new perspective with CBK’s Adventure Co’s kayak tour of the River Tyne. Taking in unrivalled views of the famous seven bridges of the Tyne and Quayside, there is no jostling for position here as you quietly paddle beneath the bridges, snapping pictures and enjoying the view as you go.
Discover Dartmoor on horseback
Join local guides for a tour on horseback through the wilds of open moorland and ancient woodland in Dartmoor. Hear stories about the history, terrain and nature of Dartmoor before tucking into a locally-sourced lunch.
From £275 per person (half-day tour); nationalparkexperiences.co.uk
Explore Ice Age England at Creswell Crags, Nottinghamshire
Visit a limestone gorge that is honeycombed with caves and smaller fissures. See the stone tools and remains of animals that were found in the caves by archaeologists. The finds reveal the story of life during the last Ice Age between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago. Learn about Britain’s only known Ice Age rock art and the largest collection of “witches’ marks”, which were discovered in 2018.
Chiltern Trike Tours, Buckinghamshire
Hit the open road on a chauffeured Boom trike experience. Take in the beauty of Chiltern’s ancient woodland, picturesque villages and discover stories, myths and legends of the area.
From £250 (two-hour tour); chilterntriketours.co.uk
Scents and sights of Jane Austen’s life, East Hampshire
Step back in time to Jane Austen’s 1816 home and experience aspects of her daily life, including her early morning piano practice. A new multi-sensory experience uses scents and sounds to bring the house to life.
Entry to Jane Austen House is £9 for adults, £7 for children (7-17) and free for under 6; janeaustens.house
Champneys spa at Mottram Hall, Cheshire
Luxury spa brand Champneys is launching its first northern outpost in the coming weeks. The £10m new spa includes a 20-metre swimming pool with private cabanas; a thermal suite with steam room and saunas; treatments by Elemis and Clarins; a gym; activity studios; restaurant; café; and the UK’s first Champneys barbershop. The new spa is part of a £15m revamp of the country-house hotel near Macclesfield.
From £79 per person for a classic spa day; mottramhall.com
National Trust Holiday Cottages, Polzeath, Cornwall
The Pentire Farmhouse and Pengirt holiday cottages have both been restored with traditional touches. They are perched on the Pentire headland and offer glorious sea views. A short walk away is the sandy beach of Pentireglaze Haven, linking to Polzeath beach, the perfect spot for surfers at low tide.
Opening October; Pentire Farmhouse from £1,099 for two nights, sleeps eight; Pengirt from £550 for two nights, sleeps four; nationaltrust.org.uk
Horses and Nature Retreat, Heale Farm, Exmoor
Offering a unique approach to wellbeing through the calming presence of horses, the course includes open-air mindfulness sessions and walk and talk with the animals. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the tranquil beauty of Exmoor in autumn.
From £250 per person; healefarm.co.uk
Pumpkin Grotto at Groombridge Place, Tunbridge Wells
A secret garden with its gentle stream and wooden bridge will be transformed into a magical pumpkin grotto. Spot all the hidden pumpkins and if you come in fancy dress there may be something special waiting for every ghoul, ghost, phantom and skeleton. Afterwards, discover Crusoe’s World with its wooden rope bridge, giant wooden ship, rope swings and zip wire or walk along the canal, through the forest and you might catch a glimpse of the resident herd of fallow deer.
Until 1 November; family tickets from £25, adults £8.95, children £6.95; groombridgeplace.com
Tresco Island Autumn Wellbeing & Yoga Retreat, Isle of Scilly
Join Yogi Gem Hansen and guest tutor Will Harrigan for five serene nights of meditative practice, yoga and island hopping. Featuring island sunrises and guided mindfulness walks around Tresco’s north coast, the retreat promises to be simultaneously grounding and uplifting.
12-17 October; from £900 (based on two sharing) or £725 per person; tresco.co.uk
Apples for Autumn, Herefordshire Cider Circuits
Two new cycling trails showcasing Herefordshire’s apple heritage have launched this month just in time for harvest’s bumper crop. Visitors can enjoy cider tastings and the restaurants, pubs and cafes will be serving apple-themed tasting menus. Get the chance to meet some of the award-winning producers and explore the county’s incredible landscapes and orchards.
Woodland feasts, Buckinghamshire
Enjoy a foraging feast with Nomadic Dining. Set in secluded woodland you will immerse into a magical experience of living off the land and cooking over wildfires. The menus will feature the fruits and finds of your forest forage.
From £90; events take place in October and November; experiencenomadic.com
Vineyard Open Days, Wiston Estate, South Downs
On arrival you will be greeted by Kirsty Goring, whose family owns the Sussex estate. She will introduce you to Wiston and will give a complimentary tutored tasting of two of their award-winning English Sparkling Wines. Vineyard manager James McLean has also curated a self-guided tour around the estate.
£10 per ticket; open days are on 10, 24 and 31 October; wistonestate.com