Make the most of the shorter days with our round-up of the best micro-adventures for autumn:
Morning mists are perfect for visiting atmospheric ruins, and blue skies make a wonderful backdrop to autumnal leaves – especially fine in southern England’s many beech forests. This is the time of rutting stags locking antlers in wood land clearings. It is the season of mellow fruitfulness so gather sloes for your gin, apples and blackberries for your pies. It is also the beginning of mushroom season…Here are a few of our favourite adventures from our Wild Guide series of books.
Take a Magical Woodland Walk under the Frithsden Beeches, Ashridge:
These magnificent knotted beech trees feature in several Hollywood films, including Harry Potter. Beyond, sunken drovers paths wind through the woods and commons of Ashridge Estate. There are rutting deer in autumn too.
From Berkamstead Golf Club (HP4 2QB) drive dir Ashridge and Frithsden, passing a memorial on your R. Follow managed footpath (the Chiltern Way) on L for ¾ mile to the beeches. 10 mins, 51.7810, -0.5551
Go Fungi Foraging at Holey Oak, Penn Wood:
Listen for woodpeckers and tawny owls at the ancient Holey Oak and Penn Pollard, and watch for hawfinches with huge bills. Fungi foraging in autumn.
Footpath beside Holy Trinity Church (Penn Street, HP7 0PX, between Amersham and High Wycombe) leads towards Holey Oak. Branch W to Penn Pollard, near woods northern edge. 2 mins, 51.6581, -0.6702.
Look out for Rutting Deer in Richmond Park:
Pollarded oaks, gnarled and hollowed. The 750-year-old Richmond Royal Oak is the most impressive. Around 630 red and fallow deer have roamed here sin ce 1529 and can be heard clashing antlers during the autumn rut (Oct – Nov), when males compete for females.
Park in the Pembroke Lodge car park on Queens Road, 500m S of Richmond Gate (TW10 5HX, 0208 940 8207). The Richmond Royal Oak is on the path between Sidmouth Wood and Queen Elizabeths Plantation, 300m S of Sawyers Hill road. Opens 7am in summer and 7.30am in winter. 15 mins, 51.4456, -0.2812
Go Foraging with Fergus the Forager:
Learn to forage with this expert on a 12–13 hour long day course. Expect two foraged three-course meals, tasters throughout the day, and a drink and pickle to take home. Advance booking is essential. Meeting place varies between Herne Bay and Canterbury, depending on the course. Fergustheforager.co.uk 51.3728, 1.1233 0.
Watch Thousands of Birds Swoop, Loop and Funnel at Westhay Moor, Meare:
In autumn, the South Wests ancient woodlands blaze with fiery colours, while enormous flocks of starlings, numbering tens of thousands, creating dazzling aerial displays as winter approaches. This is one of the best places to see massive flocks of starling murmurations at sunset, from autumn to February.
5 miles NW of Glastonbury on B3151. ½ mile after Westhay village turn R on corner (signed Godney) and continue 1 mile to find car park on R, at the ju nction with Daggs Lane Drove. 5 mins, 51.1898, -2.7794.