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Jen & Sim Benson By Jen & Sim Benson

Looking for exciting, outdoor family adventures? GetOutside Champions, Jen & Sim Benson bring us 5 top ideas to make the most of Autumn outside.

Autumn is a fantastic time for family adventures, as the leaves turn to fiery shades, creatures busy themselves with winter preparations and the first frosts start to appear. It’s a great time for family-friendly fun outside, here's our top 5 suggestions to get you started.

1. Go red squirrel spotting

Squirrel spotting Squirrel spotting Squirrel spotting

If you’re lucky enough to live near one of the few remaining red squirrel strongholds in Britain, a woodland walk offers the best opportunities for spotting these fluffy-eared tree-dwellers. Some of the best places to see red squirrels are the islands of Wight, Brownsea and Scilly in the south of England; Formby near Liverpool; parts of the Lake District and Northumberland National Parks; Anglesey in Wales; the Caldonian pine forests of Scotland; and Mount Stewart in County Down, Northern Ireland.

Top places to spot Red Squirrels
Village Spooky Trail

2. Go on a Hallowe’en Trail

Themed trails and treasure hunts are a great way to get kids outside and running around.

At this time of year there are plenty organised activities to take part in, including self-guided trails at selected National Trust properties and spooky woodland walks with English Heritage (prebooking essential).

Look out for local pumpkin trails or make up your own with clues for the kids to solve to find some hidden spooky treasure.

3. Have an autumn wildlife safari

Autumn is a time of change in the natural world, as many trees begin to shed their leaves, some animals prepare to hibernate or stock up for the colder months, and vast flocks of birds fill the skies, both leaving for warmer climes and arriving from the north and east to overwinter in Britain.

Depending on where you live, you might spot fieldfares, redwings and bramblings over fields and woodland, and Bewick's and whooper swans and many kinds of ducks, geese and wading birds on wetlands and the coast. The Wildlife Trusts Wildlife Watch website is packed with printable spotting sheets, colouring, and other activities to help with identification and inspiration.

4. Get creative

It’s exciting watching the leaves turn from mainly green to a vibrant variety of reds, yellows and golds at this time of the year. Leaf art is a great way to make the most of the different shapes, colours and sizes of leaf – head outside to collect a bag full and either arrange them into al fresco patterns in your garden or a local park, or take them home and create pictures by sticking them onto paper or card.

Pressing leaves in a flower press (or even a heavy book) is a good way to preserve their colours. Try hanging leaves to make pretty mobiles; paint twigs in bright colours and stones to look like flowers and bugs – ladybirds are always a favourite; or collect fallen pinecones to get an early start on Christmas decorations.

5. Celebrate Apple Day

In Victorian times, more than 2,000 different types of apples in many different tastes, colours and sizes grew in Britain, but sadly many orchards have disappeared from our landscapes. If you look closely, however, you can often spot apple trees hiding in and around fields, hedgerows, and even alongside railway lines. In the UK, Apple Day traditionally falls on 21st October, but you can have your own celebration of native British apples from August, when the shiny red Discovery variety ripens, right through until November and the russet-coloured Claygate Pearmain.

Jen & Sim Benson are outdoor writers and photographers and parents to two free-range children.

Their books include: Amazing Family Adventures (National Trust), The Adventurer’s Guide to Britain (Bloomsbury) and Short Runs in Beautiful Places (National Trust).

Their brand-new book, 100 Great Walks with Kids, is out in March 2021 and is available to pre-order now!

More family adventure ideas Explore the kids adventure map
Book cover: 100 Great Walks with Kids

100 Great Walks with Kids

Jen & Sim Benson By Jen & Sim Benson


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.

Find out more about Jen & Sim Benson.