by Jane Watson
Things to do
We caught up with Jeanette Edgar, our ‘Cultural Concierge’ to find out what she loves most about autumn in Cumbria.
‘As the leaves begin to turn and orchards and hedgerows fill with fruit, it’s time to make the most of the season’s rustic colours, fruit laden orchards and family days out with a trip to one of our heritage gardens or houses (maybe a castle too).
Visit a forest
Autumn must be the best time of the year to visit a forest and Grizedale Forest offers unrivalled days out for everyone who visits. Walkers, delight in that crunch underfoot as you explore endless forest trails. Thrill seekers, take to two wheels or into the trees and test your nerve on a bike or Go Ape courses. Culture vultures keep your eyes peeled for the unique sculptures dotted throughout the forest; and photographers and Instagrammers, you are in for a treat as the autumnal colours dazzle and are reflected in the waters of the natural tarn.
Brantwood near Coniston has a renowned Maple Walk which is a delightful way to get outside, and takes your breath away with its autumn colours, smell and crunch.
Brantwood, The Maple Walk, Autumn
Celebrate Apple Day
Originating in 1990 in response to the loss of so many traditional orchards, Apple Day is a great way of celebrating the many different varieties grown throughout Britain. Apple Day itself falls on 21 October, but events take place throughout autumn.
Enjoy a day dedicated to celebrating all things apple! – as specialists, enthusiasts, growers, and everyone who likes eating apples gather or a day of apple identification, apple pies, apple sauce, juicing, stalls, and fruity activities for all the family.
Levens Hall apples
Take a taste on the wild side
At this time of year, hedgerows are alive with delicious fruit from blackberries for jams to sloes for gin and there’s a bountiful supply of fungi, nuts, and wild herbs – but heck – you’re on holiday!
So let someone else do the foraging, the jam making and the cooking and seek out a one of our amazing heritage house’s tearooms or restaurants with a taste of nature on the menu. Now here I’m spoilt for choice – but for homemade jam with your scones served in a converted Grade II listed barn to Michelin starred dining in a peel tower built during the 14th century you’d do no better than Askham Hall. If you fancy doing a recci take a stroll through their beautiful gardens with views of the River Lowther and visit the animals – what they can’t source locally they grow, forage and rear! The eagle-eyed amongst you may spot red squirrels, rabbits, badgers, and pheasants.
Askham Hall Kitchen
Meet the gardeners
Autumn must be one of the most mindful times to visit a heritage garden. As those bright blousy colours fade, the herbaceous borders become an exciting display of rich golds, bronzes, and deep reds – their final explosion before fading to winter. If you are looking for inspiration, then head to a garden that positively shouts creativity and happy to share some tips – here’s a couple of my top picks for gardens with autumn colour and dates when you can meet the gardeners themselves.
The gardens at Holker Hall have evolved over hundreds of years, under the knowledgeable guidance of generations of the Cavendish Family. They will all have seen seasons come and go, each adding new plantings to create what is now a very a characterful garden. You can learn more about it from Head Gardener, Glyn Sherratt who gives tours at various times through the year.
Every year the gardens at Lowther Castle grow more intriguing – all over seen by head gardener Martin Ogle who knows the gardens intimately. You can join Martin on an autumn garden tour, followed by a Q&A session over tea and cake on Thursday 21 October. You will also see the Garden Masterplan, drawn up in 2012 by Dan Pearson.
The gardens are open to visitors most days, but always prebook tours on their websites, the halls and houses begin to close at the end of October, but many will keep their gardens and estates and cafes open to walk and wander through, and hold seasonal events, especially at half-term, and in the festive season.
Holker Hall stag
Be afraid – be very afraid!
As well as being the season of mellow fruitfulness it’s also the season of things that go bump in the dark! So, if Halloween’s your thing – then go to where it’s done well – full-on drama!
Join in the Skeleton Parade at Brockhole on Windermere – the daily dance of bones takes place throughout their Halloween week, 20 – 31 October. Along with haunted forests, zombie archers and pumpkin farmers it’s a Halloween experience that will haunt you.
Halloween comes to Brockhole…
Or book into the Emporium of Stolen Souls, Muncaster Castle’s Halloween Show, 23 – 31 October, where there will be oodles of fun and Halloween entertainment to make this a perfect time of year to visit this haunted castle. Activities include the Scary Maze, fire juggling shows, axe throwing(!), kids crafts, lantern parades, spooky science sessions and zombies…
The only thing to be afraid of is missing out – pre-book well ahead.
And finally – food.
Cumbria has a food heritage with no equal anywhere in England – and we’ve eight Michelin stars to prove it. The combination of locally sourced produce and culinary expertise has made eating out an experience in many of our pubs, restaurants, cafes and farm shops.
For a taste of what we have on offer visit – https://www.visitlakedistrict.com/food-and-drink or get on board the county’s favourite food festival, Taste Cumbria, returned to Cockermouth in September and has a Taste Christmas celebration planned where you can eat, drink, shop and explore. https://visitallerdale.co.uk/taste-cumbria-home/
… but I hope you discover special places of your own – seek out the hidden gems, and enjoy what I consider to be the best season to be here.’
Book your autumn break here
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