2020 has been a turbulent year, and after a challenging spring and summer, we’re hopefully moving into more reassuring times during autumn and winter.
Falling leaves, longer nights and dropping temperatures mean leaving the house isn’t quite as alluring as it was during the warmer months, but it can be just as rewarding. Plus, it doesn’t need to be expensive.
1. Catch a fireworks display
It’s a depressing thought, but British wintertime is a lot closer than we’d like. The silver lining is that it means Bonfire Night is just around the corner.
Firework displays are likely to still take place this year, but you can expect more regulations in place. However, many large-scale events have announced they won’t be running.
As such, we’d advise that you find an event that’s adhering to the government's safety advice at the time and avoid socialising in large groups. Oh, and like every year, wrap up warm!
2. Pumpkin Picking and carving
Of course, the best thing you can do with food is to eat it, but autumn throws up delightful alternatives. Not least, decorating pumpkins.
You can do the Halloween tradition, of course, with shop-bought pumpkins, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, spend the day roaming around a farm and their adjoining fields to select the perfect pumpkin to adorn your house.
Bear in mind that entrance prices will vary from farm to farm. While some will only charge you for what you pick, others may offer a more expensive service with extras you might not need.
3. Get fruity by picking apples and conkers
Pumpkins aren’t the only foodstuff that has its uses in autumn. Apple-picking is also a good day out. Orchards offer a litany of plump fruit options for either eating raw, baking in a pie or even brewing into cider.
Technically nuts are fruits too, so you could also embrace your inner child and go wandering for conkers. However, unlike their North American counterpart chestnuts, the conker isn’t edible. It can be toxic. So stick to battling them against each other rather than snacking on them.
4. Get boozy at an Oktoberfest
The Bavarian beer bonanza was one of many high profile event casualties due to Covid-19, but there are UK versions of the popular event planned. This event in Stoke has tickets available from just £12.
Many events have been postponed till 2021. So rather than a large-scale drinking hall, look to your local pub to see if they’re recreating the event on a more manageable (and cost-effective) level. You should be able to get the same steins and sausage experience with a bit more change in your pocket.
5. Go for a walk
While rain, wind and the biting cold are more than likely to make an appearance this season; chances are so too will sunshine and misty mornings; perfect for a stroll.
What makes walking this time of year all the more enticing? The dramatic impact the changing leaves has on the environment, introducing shades of brown, orange and yellow to the landscape. Pick somewhere where the heather blooms, and you can add rich lilacs to the mix too. You don’t need to walk it either; riding a bike through the same surroundings can be just as rewarding.
6. Enjoy a harvest festival
Traditionally a pagan celebration, harvest festival occurs towards the end of the crop cycle and celebrates the food yield. The modern equivalent, which is likely to be any time during October, includes an array of activities. For example, farmers markets, organic takeaways and educational displays.
It’s a fun celebration of food, irrespective of age. While some can have quite expensive food and entrance fees, at other events you can soak up the atmosphere with free entry. Again, there will likely be restrictions on harvest festivals this year, with some bigger events postponed till 2021. Nevertheless, you can still get involved in smaller festivities.
7. Catch a deer rut
Deers rutting is one of nature’s more dramatic spectacles. The three main species found in the UK (red, fallow and sika deers), see males lock antlers as they battle over the opportunity to mate with females.
Although Scotland is arguably the best place to see deer rut, there are places across the UK where you can witness it (here are some of them). Just be mindful that stags have been known to attack dogs and aren't fans of humans getting too close either.
8. Watch a sunrise
The summer offers you plenty of opportunities for sunsets, but unless you're an ultra-early bird, watching the sunrise is a bit tricker. That all changes in the autumn though, when the dawn gets progressively later.
Try to do it as close to (but not after) the advent of British wintertime. For example, on Saturday 24th October, the day before the clocks go back, the sun rises at 7:41 in London - that will get later the further north you are too.
Just allow for time to travel and walk to your vantage point, so you don't miss it. It might mean getting up a little earlier, but we'd recommend taking a warm flask of your favourite hot drink up a hill and watch from there. If you get a clear morning, the sight will be truly spectacular.
It’s not just the sun rising that happens at a more palatable time. An earlier sunrise means the stars are more impressive long before midnight. As long as you’re relatively far from the bright city lights and there’s very little cloud in the sky, you should be able to see some impressive constellations and stars.
Technically, this isn’t a day out, but if you’re not lucky enough to live somewhere with the opportune conditions then you can drive to somewhere nearby. There’s also the moon to be impressed by at this time of year. October also has two full moons, the Harvest and Hunter’s moon, the latter of which can be blood orange.
10. Rock pooling
There are two misconceptions about rock pooling. The first is that it's just for kids (although they do love it), and the second that it needs to be the summer.
Our seaside is generally less populated once August has been and gone, so there’ll be quieter spots which are perfect for spotting wildlife. The creatures, including crabs, shrimp and fish, tend to prefer calmer, untroubled areas.
September is the time of year when the sea is warmest, so if the temperature is mild, you can do it barefoot. Otherwise, we’d recommend a good pair of wellies and some waterproofs. Here are some more rock pooling tips and top places to go from Countryfile.
Fancy some cheap food this September? Check out 14 restaurants continuing the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.
By Jimmy Coultas
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