The return of crisper, colder days and darker evenings mean we may be soon approaching winter, but that’s no excuse to hibernate – and if you’ve got children you’ll want to keep them busy in the half term holidays. Whilst summer touring is over for another year, autumnal holidays are all about long leafy walks, pubs with fires, visiting brilliant British attractions and settling down to celebrate the festive season in suitable style. Tim Pike of Vancations shares 10 of the best holiday destinations for a motorhome tour or long weekend this autumn.
10 – Setley Ridge Vineyard
If you enjoy a glass of delicious English wine then a visit to this family run vineyard is a must. From growing the grapes, to making the wine, bottling it and even selling it, it all happens here – the vineyard also welcomes motorhomes to its campsite. Situated right in the middle of the beautiful New Forest National Park, Setley Ridge makes a great base for family days out too. The National Motor Museum, the Dorset coastal resorts and Buckler’s Hard – where Nelson’s ships were built for the Battle of Trafalgar – are all just a short drive away.
9 – The Lake District, Cumbria
The crisp, cool, crunch of leaves underfoot, the log fires in the village pub, the beautiful vistas of reds, browns and greens – the Lake District remains the perfect location for driving your motorhome to and forgetting your troubles. Whether out walking in the fresh, countryside air, or curled up with a cup of tea in the many tearooms, Hawkshead Hall is a campsite that’s ideally located for exploring the region. Known as the “prettiest little village in the Lake District”, Hawkshead lies in a sheltered valley at the head of Esthwaite Water, ideally located for cycling, horse riding adventures and boating of all kinds. The surrounding scenery is some of the finest in the Lake District with Grizedale Forest to the south, Lake Windermere to the east and Lake Coniston to the west. The village itself offers a wonderful mixture of the historic and picturesque, whitewashed walls contrasting against narrow cobbled streets adorned with hanging baskets aglow with a profusion of colour – particularly in the autumn.
8 – York
With so much history right on York’s doorstep, and must-visit museums such as the National Railway Museum and the Jorvik Viking Centre and Dig Archaeological Adventure, this medieval city makes for a delightful rural escape. There are quite a lot of campsites in York and, situated on the north east edge of the historic city, the Beechwood Grange campsite is a great base for your trip. From this campsite there is even a weekend shuttle bus service that puts all of York’s fantastic family friendly facilities at your fingertips, should you want to leave the motorhome pitched and not battle York’s narrow streets. Be sure to visit the magnificent medieval townhouse, Barley Hall, which from the end of November presents a special medieval market with live crafting, mulled wine and costumed traders.
7 – Leeds Christmas market and Yorkshire
A beautiful little village on a winding river, admire Hebden Bridge’s cobbled streets and canals whilst being in easy reach of both the Yorkshire Dales and Leeds city centre. There are plenty of campsites in and around Hebden Bridge which make great bases from which to explore the region. So pack a picnic and head to the hills to enjoy the beauty hotspots of Yorkshire and view the autumnal landscapes, streams and waterfalls. Apart from the stunning views there’s architecture, history, industrial relics, wildlife, gentle or strenuous walking, great people and fab pubs. Many of the lanes of the Yorkshire villages are quite small, but most are passable in a motorhome. And Christmas comes early in Leeds – from the beginning of November, no less. One of the most established German Christmas markets in the UK, Christkindelmarkt in Leeds has it all: quaint wooden stalls, twinkling lights, festive greenery, and a hefty dose of amazing German sausage as well as Gluhwein, schnitzels, stolen or candied fruits and a huge beer tent full of live music and dancing. York also has a Christmas market, bringing extra sparkle to the city’s atmospheric streets.
6 – The Eden Project
Situated a mere mile away from the Eden Project in the beautiful Cornish countryside, Croft Farm Holiday Park specialises in motorhome and touring holidays. Driving to and parking at the Eden Project is no problem at all, they even have special parking for oversize vehicles like motorhomes in the ‘banana’ car park. The Eden Project is an unforgettable experience in a breathtaking location – it’s a place of beauty and wonder that is far more than the famous domes, giant greenhouses and thousands of plants. If you want to stay a few days, take passport photos with you and get an extended pass which is a good value option. As well as the Eden Project, explore The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the various coves and unspoilt beaches of the south Cornish coast.
5 – St Austell, Cornwall
St Austell and the surrounding area is another beautiful part of Cornwall – and if you’re taking a motorhome then why not stay somewhere with fabulous views of the sea? The coastal footpath passes through the Treveague Farm campsite, leading you to the picturesque fishing village of Gorran Haven, which has local amenities and a safe beach for children. Visit the bustling fishing ports of Mevagissey and St Mawes and try the local seafood at Fowey, with its charming winding streets hiding unusual shops and restaurants. Round off the trip with a visit to one of the jewels in the National Trust’s crown, Lanhydrock country house, gardens and wooded estate.
4 – Portmeirion
Small, quiet and secluded, Barcdy Camping and Caravan Park lies in a sheltered vale, with wooded hills tumbling down to the rear and wide open views across the Dwyryd estuary to the front. Situated in the Snowdonia National Park between the sea and the mountains, Barcdy is the ideal base for visiting a wide variety of attractions. The lovely little seaside town of Harlech, with its castle and miles of golden sand is but a short distance away and the famous village of Portmeirion lies just across the estuary. In Portmeirion, enjoy sunlit buildings against a brooding sky and discover a fascinating history and architecture.
3 – Beamish
The ‘living museum of the North’, Beamish outdoor museum has a whole host of interactive and entertaining festivals and events this autumn, including special Halloween and Christmas events. With dressing up, working trams, steam engines, pits, a colliery and farm, this museum is a must-see and conveniently lies only a mile away from Bobby Shafto Caravan Park. It is also a great location for exploring the North East’s many castles and coasts, as well as nearby Gateshead, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Sunderland.
2 – Alton Towers
For kids and big kids alike, park your motorhome just two miles from the popular theme park at Lower Micklin Touring Park. Buses to Alton Towers leave from the bottom of the site’s driveway and what better way to spend Halloween than at the annual Scarefest? There are also fireworks in November. And, after all that adventure, Alton village has award-winning tea shops and plenty of pubs to take a much needed break from all the excitement!
1 – Edinburgh
Round off the season with a most festive retreat in Edinburgh. Drummohr Caravan Park was originally the walled garden of a monastery and much of its original tranquil atmosphere has remained intact. Sheltered and wooded on all sides, this secluded park is mainly level, carefully landscaped and open all year round so is the ideal location should you wish to visit Edinburgh’s many Christmas markets and showcases, or stay for the ultimate New Year’s Eve celebration, Hogmanay. Only eight miles from Edinburgh’s city centre, with a regular bus service (day and night) that takes you to Princes Street, why not visit the city’s underground streets, the historic castle and the camera obscura? Alternatively, further to the east of the park guests can experience the dramatic coastlines and tranquil villages of East Lothian, visit The Falkirk Wheel, Concorde or Royal Yacht Britannia, or even enjoy a spot of golf at one of Scotland’s nearby top golf courses.
Autumnal holidays are all about long leafy walks, pubs with fires and settling down to celebrate the festive season