Get out and enjoy the autumn
It’s the season for hikes among the trees and cosy meals in pubs, says Nicole Garcia Merida.
Woodland walks in Britain
The “simple pleasure” of an autumn walk grounds us in nature, clears the mind, and “stirs the senses with wonder”, says Boudicca Fox-Leonard in The Sunday Telegraph. Whether you like a “heart rate-raising yomp or a slow dawdle to a bench”, autumnal walks abound in Britain.
The walk from Rockcliffe to Castle Point in Dumfries and Galloway has a “rare and magical combination of both sea and trees”. The woodlands along the coastal path from Rockcliffe are alive with hawthorn berries, sloes “and the last of the blackberries, spilling on to the beach”. Take a pause at the bridge over the brook – “it looks like something out of a fairy tale”. The sea, often pewter coloured, “dances silver with the light” and the season brings dramatic skies at dusk and dawn.
In London, the walk from Hackney Marshes to Walthamstow Wetlands will dispel the myth of east London as an urban jungle. “Actually, it’s incredibly beautiful, surrounded by greenery, and has a wonderful sense of community.” The walk along the canal from Hackney Marshes takes you from the Big Smoke into the countryside.
For some unadulterated countryside, the Borrowdale yew trees in the Lake District are thought to be more than 2,000 years old and “have achieved almost mythic status”. Start in Seatoller for a circular route via Seathwaite and enjoy the clear, Lakeland air.
Three autumnal activities
There’s nowhere better to witness the season unfold than in a forest, and the New Forest “may be the best in the business”, says Pravina Rudra in The Spectator. It’s full of “fiery” oak and chestnut trees, and if you venture deep enough in you can reach the clifftops overlooking The Solent. Hire a pony from Brockenhurst Riding Stables and take it down the bridleways and coastal paths. For a picture perfect end to the day, rural pubs with crackling fires are a dime a dozen. The Three Tuns, “with its thatched roof, wooden beams and view out onto paddocks”, is a safe bet .
Autumn is also prime time for apple-picking. Garsons Farm in Esher is 155 acres of “orchard, pumpkin and general crop-heaven”. Once you’ve picked enough fruits and vegetables, you can relax at The Bear, a “trendy” local pub with a beer garden.
Alternatively, take to the Norfolk Broads, just a couple of hours from London – a maze of rivers, “with rivulets to get lost in”. Hire a sailboat, or pick up a kayak from the picturesque village of Wroxham. Take it upstream to the Rising Sun pub and reward your efforts with “generously portioned pub grub”.
Cosy retreats in the UK
For an autumn break fit for a foodie, head to Edinburgh, says Phoebe Taplin in The Guardian. More specifically, Stockbridge, the hub of the city’s food scene. Menus draw on the “game-rich Scottish moors, lochs full of seafood, foraged berries, fungi and seaweed”. A walk around the Sunday market will see your pockets full of fermented figs and plum compote. Restaurants serve up delicious meals: try a seven-course tasting menu at candlelit Purslane (£65). Stay at the Raeburn (£110 per night), a cosy Stockbridge base with its own restaurant and a big log fire in the bar.
If you’re yearning for an escape to nature, book a weekend at the Tudor Farmhouse Hotel in the Gloucestershire countryside (doubles from £129). You can spot wild boar, badgers and hedgehogs snuffling in the autumn twilight. The hotel offers several packages, including an evening or dawn “safari” trip with a wildlife expert. October and November are the best months to visit.
For a romantic escape, what could be better than a forest house with a hot tub? Kaowood Country Park in Carmarthen has a “tiny house” for two and champagne, chocolates and a bed sprinkled with silk rose petals can all be arranged. The morning birdsong and the huge oak trees surrounding the property complete the scene.
Three trips abroad
At the time of writing, parts of Greece remain a quarantine-free escape from the the UK. The “underrated” Peloponnese region has “rugged forest-carpeted peaks and a wonderful, waymarked walking route”, says Claire Webb on i news.The 47-mile Menalon Trail twists around old paths between stone villages down to the “dramatic” Lousios Gorge, and back up to the Menalon massif. There are cosy, family-run guest houses and welcoming tavernas.
In Cyprus, Sherpa Expeditions offers self-guided walking holidays that take you through the Troodos mountains and around the west coast (11 days from £990pp, excluding flights). Dotted along the seaside route are 13th-century churches, pretty villages and a stunning valley of Cyprus cedar and pine.
The Moselle Valley in south-west Germany “has long been a popular detour for Rhine river cruises”, but the best way to take in its awe-inspiring scenery is by walking a strip of the 267-mile Moselsteig trail. It starts at Perl on the French border, heads to the “attractive” Koblenz to meet the Rhine, and hosts restaurants where you can enjoy the region’s rieslings. (Seven-night trips £595, macsadventure.com.)