Caroline MillsSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Travel and touring’ written by Caroline Mills
It’s the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ and one of the loveliest times of the year to be outdoors.
Whether you want to watch an early morning mist drift over a river valley or sample the year’s bounty at a harvest food festival, there are lots of things to see and do.
Campsites tend to be quieter throughout autumn, especially if you can make a mid-week break, and those based in or beside woodlands come alive with colour.
So now is not the time to mothball your motorhome. In case you’ve designs on doing so, we’ve come up with a few ideas to help change your mind and tour the British Isles this autumn.
Britain’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site
Explore Britain’s most recent addition to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Lake District.
The area has joined iconic locations across the world, such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon, with its new status and recognition that the National Park is a place of international significance and universal value.
Two aspects have helped to secure the Lake District’s new World Heritage Site standing: its unique farmed landscape, and its inspiration over centuries for art and literature.
Both are good excuses to visit and autumn, when the fells and woods turn to magical metallic colours, adds to the list of reasons to stay a while.
Where to stay? There are six campsites and caravan parks within the Lake District that also feature in our Top 100 Sites Guide.
All are open until November, while The Quiet Site is open all year and Hillcroft Park remains open until 6 January 2018. Both these sites are close to picturesque Ullswater.
An apple a day
For 2017, National Apple Day falls on 21 October. You’ll find dozens of events to celebrate all things apple across the UK.
In particular, on 21 and 22 October, you can celebrate the English apple at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (where William Shakespeare courted his future bride beneath the boughs of the orchard’s fruit trees) in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Then you can make apple-associated crafts, enjoy apple juice using the press and take home some great apple-inspired recipes. Apples will be for sale from the orchards, with all proceeds going towards conservation of the cottage.
Should you happen to be in neighbouring Warwick a fortnight later, you could party like it’s 1617 as the county town commemorates the 400th anniversary of King James I’s visit.
The monarch, remembered as the target of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, enjoyed a three-day feast hosted by Sir Fulke Greville at the Lord Leycester Hospital in the town as Warwick Castle, raided by the plotters in 1605, lay in ruins.
Visitors can enjoy historic tours, banquets, fireworks and Guy Fawkes crafts, together with a special Bonfire Night at Warwick Racecourse on 4 November.
Not least, you won’t have far to go after the fireworks, as you can stay at Warwick Racecourse Caravan and Motorhome Club Site.
In Victoria’s footsteps
Even if you haven’t been to your local cinema in a while, it’s unlikely you’ll have missed the huge advertisements on the sides of buses for the most recent box office sensation, Victoria & Abdul, starring Dame Judi Dench and Ali Fazal.
The film was shot in part on location at Osborne House, the seaside palace on the Isle of Wight that was both much-loved family home and stately residence for Queen Victoria.
Specially created to celebrate the film’s release is the new Victoria’s Island Trail, which features 50 significant locations across the island with connections to Queen Victoria.
Key locations include the church where Princess Beatrice was married, the Queen’s favourite Isle of Wight viewpoint and the yacht club created just for her.
By following the trail, it will be possible to walk along the same paths, see the same views and enjoy this unique journey around the Isle of Wight.
Osborne House has also secured an exhibition of some of the costumes from the film, which are already on show, including those worn by Dame Judi Dench, Eddie Izzard and Ali Fazal.
From our Top 100 Sites Guide, we can recommend a stay at Appuldurcombe Gardens Holiday Park, which stays open until 1 November.
Alternatively, for visits to the Isle of Wight later in the autumn and winter, Waverley Park remains open all year and is a five-minute drive from Osborne House.
A Viking hoard
Who doesn’t like the thought of discovering buried treasure? In 2014, a metal detector enthusiast uncovered what turned out to be the richest Viking-age collection found anywhere in Britain.
The Galloway Hoard is an unparalleled find of gold, silver and jewelled treasures, buried for more than a thousand years.
With over 100 rare and unique items from across Europe and beyond, unlocking the hoard’s secrets has the potential to reveal new insights into this period of history – some of the items have never been found before in Britain.
The exhibition of the collection, which has been on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh since June, has now been extended until 29 October.
But it’s potentially your last chance to see it – to secure the hoard, almost £2m must be raised by mid-November, and your visit is designed to raise awareness and the much-needed funds to keep the collection together at the museum.
There’s much more to discover at Scotland’s National Museum and, after a visit, you could stay at Mortonhall Caravan and Camping Park. This beautiful parkland site is situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh, with easy access by bus to the city centre.
A mouth-watering trail
As the nights turn colder and the days chillier, we go in search of comfort food. And – for chocoholics at least – there’s little more comforting than chocolate!
For chocolate lovers, York is one of the best places to visit and never more so than this autumn, when the city reveals a new Chocolate Trail.
Visitors are invited to take a mouth-watering wander through time, packed full of chocolate, pioneers and famous confectionery, to discover York’s chocolate-making history.
While other northern cities made their wealth from wool, cotton and steel, York went its own sweet way and built a city from chocolate.
Its rivers brought in the vital ingredients, while the railways transported the finished products around the country. Some of the world’s best-known names in chocolate began life in York, including Rowntree’s Kit Kat, Smarties and Aero, and Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
The new self-guided trail covers 11 chocolatey locations around the city. Visitors can pick up a map and trail guide from the Visit York Tourist Information Centre. Yum!
There are numerous sites in and around York, but for a little peace and quiet at an adults-only site (you really wish to share your stash of chocolate with the little ’uns?), York Caravan Park stays open until the beginning of January.
If you are touring with the family, Wagtail Park is located in a pretty village on the outskirts of York.
All the colours of autumn
One of the greatest joys of autumn is seeing nature’s firework display and the world-famous 18th-century landscaped gardens at Stourhead in Wiltshire should be on your list of ‘must-sees’ for autumn colour.
Featuring classical temples, a lake and a domed grotto, the gardens, now owned by the National Trust, were described as ‘a living work of art’ when they opened in the 1740s.
The original gardeners planted sycamore, oak, beech and Spanish chestnut trees, followed by birch, horse chestnut and ash added a generation later, alongside more exotic trees and shrubs.
The trees reflected in the lake in all their golden glory are a sight to behold, and a highlight of the free autumn colour guided garden tours in October.
If you’re a member of the Caravan and Motorhome Club, there’s a small five-unit CL (Certificated Location) within yards of the entrance to the gardens.
Otherwise, Blackmore Vale Caravan & Camping Park is a nine-mile drive from the gardens.
So, what are you waiting for? Enjoy a fabulous autumn break in your ’van.