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 of harvest food from a local farm shop, 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. Do check ahead beforehand, though, for any local or regional lockdown restrictions that might require a change in travel plans.

A landscape with UNESCO World Heritage Site status

The stunning Lake District is even more eye-poppingly glorious at this time of the yearIt’s always exciting when an entire landscape is regarded as so special on the global stage that it’s designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That’s exactly what the Lake District is.

Three years ago ago, the area joined iconic landscapes across the world, such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon, with its status and recognition that the Lake District National Park is a place of international significance and universal value.

Two aspects helped to secure the Lake District’s World Heritage Site standing back then: 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 eleven campsites and caravan parks in and around the Lake District that also feature in our Top 100 Sites Guide, a copy of which you’ll find in your Van Live! goodie bag.

An apple a day

Poston Mill

For 2020, National Apple Day falls on 21 October. Usually, you’ll find dozens of dedicated events to celebrate all things apple across the UK but this year is exceptional and events are few and far between.

That doesn’t need to stop you touring or celebrating, though. The National Trust is keeping many of its kitchen gardens open (pre-booking online required), which look magnificent dressed in autumn colours, with seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Possibilities include Attingham Park in Shropshire, Beningborough Hall in North Yorkshire, Chartwell in Kent or the vast Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.

Also in Kent is the world-famous Sissinghurst Garden, created by celebrated garden designer Vita Sackville-West, while Tatton Park in Cheshire and Trengwainton Garden in Cornwall also have very impressive kitchen gardens brimming with fruit and vegetables.

Take a look at our Top 100 Sites Guide, where campsites are listed by region, so you’ll be sure to find a lovely place to stay nearby.

Otherwise, Herefordshire is the natural place to gravitate towards, with its historic associations with apple orchards and cider. Here, you’ll find lots of events throughout October to celebrate the apple; you’ll even find two new Cider Circuit Trails, just right for cycling. Poston Mill, in Herefordshire’s Golden Valley, is open all year.

And, if you want to celebrate Apple Day in your ‘van, why not attempt an apple bobbing competition under the awning, cosy up with a glass of mulled cider, or make comforting apple pie and toffee apples for dessert?

Autumn on an island

Isle of Wight is the self-styled ‘Bicycle Island’; it’s a beautiful place to cycle

The Isle of Wight always comes up trumps with a selection of great family events throughout the autumn. It’s also offers the ideal getaway for social distancing, with miles of idyllic walking routes, including 64 miles of coastal paths. The Isle of Wight also promotes itself as ‘Bicycle Island’ and you’ll find plenty of locations to explore by bike, either on off-road trails or quiet country lanes.

For what’s on, Carisbrooke Castle – where King Charles I was imprisoned – is offering adult ghost tours, you can pick your own pumpkin at Tapnell Farm Park, or get spooked at Blackgang Chine with its Frights and Sprites event.

From our Top 100 Sites Guide, we can recommend a stay at The Orchards Holiday Park, which stays open until 30 October.

Alternatively, for visits to the Isle of Wight later in the autumn and winter, Waverley Park remains open all year and is only a five-minute drive from ferry port at East Cowes.

Where the country meets the city

Edinburgh, where the city meets the countryside, as seen from Holyrood Park

You may have thought that city breaks are off the agenda if you’re anxious about visiting crowded places. Think again for a visit to Edinburgh. Scotland’s capital has more open space than most, and its one of the most glorious places to visit in autumn.

Princes Street Gardens are brimming with autumn colour while the Royal Botanic Gardens, in the north of the city, offer a bewildering sight of autumnal shades, thanks to the collection of azaleas here.

Take a stroll on Calton Hill for magnificent views across the city but for Edinburgh’s finest, a walk or cycle ride through Holyrood Park, with a brisk wander along Salisbury Crags, is a must.

You could stay at Mortonhall Caravan and Camping Park. This beautiful parkland site is situated on the southern outskirts of Edinburgh, with easy access by bus to the city centre and has lots of open space around all its pitches, There are walks galore direct from the site, with an excellent farm shop close to the entrance.

A mouth-watering trail

York is a lovely place to visit in autumn, especially when looking for comfort food

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 for a stroll along the city’s 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 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, or download from the Visit York website. 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

Stourhead's gardens are a real treat at this time of year, so why don't you visit Wiltshire this autumn?
Stourhead’s gardens are a real treat at this time of year, so why don’t you visit Wiltshire this 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 1617) within yards of the entrance to the gardens.

Otherwise, Blackmore Vale Caravan & Camping Park is an extremely pretty, rural site near Shaftesbury, and a nine-mile drive from the gardens.

So, what are you waiting for? Enjoy a fabulous autumn break in your ’van.

You’re in Hall 6 Advice Lounge & Event Theatre at Van Live! See what else is happening on stage, or take me to the Show Guide.