Looking for exciting, outdoor family adventures this Autumn? GetOutside Champions, Jen & Sim Benson bring us 6 of the best events on offer at your local National Trust places.
Autumn is a fantastic time for family adventures, as the leaves turn to firey shades, creatures busy themselves with winter preparations and the first frosts start to appear. It’s also a great time for family-friendly festivals: ancient and modern celebrations of the turn of the seasons and the natural abundance of autumn.
Many places looked after by the National Trust are ideal for visiting at this time of year, whether you’re after an organised event or your own adventure. Here's our suggestions to get you started.
1. Red squirrel spotting at Formby, Merseyside
A stone’s throw from Liverpool’s busy streets, Formby’s vast stretch of sand backed by grass-topped dunes and woodland is a perfect place to escape at this time of year.
Spot red squirrels busily collecting their winter supplies; build sand castles, fly kites, paddle or watch the waves from the miles of windswept beach; admire the towering dunes and see renewable electricity being made at the off-shore windfarm.
A great balance of tranquillity, adventure and learning.
2. Autumn Pumpkinfest at Castle Ward, County Down
Pumpkins by Richard Bowen
Having spent the past eleven months in hiding, pumpkins truly come into their own in October, in a celebration of all their bright orange roundness.
Castle Ward has 2,000 glorious gourds for you to try your hand at elaborate carving, make terrifying jack-o'-lanterns, enjoy seasonal artisan food and follow the scarecrow trail at its annual Pumpkinfest.
This is a free event on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st October, 12pm-5pm.
3. Bonfire Night at the Fleece Inn, Worcestershire
The Fleece Inn is a restored medieval half-timbered farmhouse, once used by a farmer for sheltering his flock. Now with a reputation for traditional folk music, it also hosts a magical, traditional bonfire night celebration, with a roaring fire, stationary engines, hand bells and vintage Tilley lanterns.
Perfect for those who prefer a more peaceful take on bonfire night. Another free event, taking place on Saturday 3rd November, 6pm-10pm.
4. Autumn wildlife trail at Trelissick, Cornwall
Follow the Autumn Trail to discover how wildlife prepares for the cold winter months and learn how to make homes for wildlife in our own gardens. Pick up a sheet on arrival and follow the trail in your own time.
Free event, Saturday 20th to Sunday 28th October, 10.30am-5pm.
5. Go on a bat walk at Knole Park, Kent
Join an expert ecologist on an evening’s walk around Knole Park, watching and learning about the fascinating bats that live here. Bat detectors are provided so you can find the bats and hear their calls.
Warm up afterwards with a hot chocolate and children can join in with craft activities. Suitable for families with children aged 5+.
Saturday 27th October, 6pm-7.30pm or 7pm-8.30pm, £10 – book online.
6. Apple month at Erddig, Wrexham
October is a celebration of all things apples at Erddig, Thomas Hardy’s childhood home, with lots to get involved in including guided walks, baking demonstrations, apple harvesting and pressing, exploring the community orchard and learning about this fascinating great British fruit.
Regular activities for children of all ages. Tuesday 9th to Sunday 28th October, free event.
Explore the UK with Jen & Sim Benson's fun-packed book, 'Amazing Family Adventures: Fun days out and action-packed weekends’, full of adventures for all ages – buggy-friendly, easy activities lead on to bigger challenges such as orienteering, sea kayaking and surfing for older children.
Packed with handy hints, fun facts and step-by-step guides to activities such as making your own raft and building a bug hotel, each amazing family adventure comes with perfect National Trust places to explore, including fantastic parks, woodland, beaches and mountains.
GetOutside Champions, Jen & Sim Benson, are guidebook authors, photographers and parents. In 2015/16 they spent a year living in a bell tent in Britain with their two young children and in 2017 their book, Amazing Family Adventures, was published by the National Trust.