Autumn is well and truly here and whilst camping may not be to everyone’s taste this time of year, there are plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the changing of the seasons. This weekend we ventured out to Salcey Forest .
Here are my top 10 tried and tested family walks for Autumn in the UK :
1. Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire
My personal favourite! The six-mile circular trail follows the edge of the Salcey forest, a medieval hunting forest known for its ancient oaks and beeches. A series of trailside art sculptures have been installed and a short cut that takes walkers to the Treetop Walk, a skywalk that elevates to 70ft in the air and gives views across the forest and surrounding Northamptonshire countryside. They are also in the middle of creating a super Tree Ninja Adventure playground for kids and adults alike.
2. Kings Wood, Cornwall
Near St Austell is a richly varied spread of oak, beech, ash, birch and spruce on the slopes of the Pentewan valley – popular with walkers and riders. A primary path runs through the middle of the wood, with less formal paths branching off either towards the valley top, for views over the area, or down to the wet woodlands – wear your wellies along the banks of the St Austell river!
3. Sea Palling, Norfolk
A family-friendly walk that takes walkers along the beach from Sea Palling along to Winterton on Sea. It is not a circular walk, so not ideal in that respect, however, if you have young children it is worth following the beach south towards the Great Barn at Waxham and turn back. Those that want to carry on will get a real opportunity to really let the wind blow the cobwebs and enjoy spectacular views across the North Sea.
4. Derwent Valley Walk, Derbyshire
Starting from Fairholmes, this 11-mile circular walk follows a marked route round the famous ‘Dambuster’ reservoirs. The walk is set in heather moorland peppered with beech, rowan, silver birch, spruce and oak trees, which amongst other factors attract a large array of birds, including ravens, crossbills and ospreys.
5. Pepper Wood, West Midlands
There’s an excellent network of walks, ranging from 20 minutes up to 2 hours with young children. Pepper Wood, is the remant of the ancient Forest of Feckenham, and lies close to Wyre Forest near Bromsgrove. The 150 acre site offers a woodland setting in the midst of great oaks, birch and lime. Alders line the valley floor.
6. Pass of Killiecrankie, Perthshire, Scotland
Perthshire is believed to be the area where you will find some of Scotland’s finest woodlands. The Pass of Killiecrankie walk, a four mile walk set in oak woodland along the River Garry, is possible one of the finest. The riverside trail, which starts at the visitor centre leads to the shores of Loch Faskally. You can end your walk at Pitlochry, or continue along the circular Bealach walk, which brings you back to Killiecrankie. The birch, rowan, aspen and ash trees that adorn the walk will certainly give you a taste of autumn.
7. Ullswater, Lake District
This is one for the families with children aged 11 and upwards, it is easier than the walk at Scafell Pike, but still offers a challenge. Starting at church near Howton, this 10-mile circular walk takes you along the shores of Ullswater for part of the way and up in woodland sorrounding the 657m, Place Fell peak. Follow paths and narrow roads to Martindale, then bear right towards Patterdale, before heading towards the shores of Ullswater and following the twisting path to Sandwick and then back to Martindale.
8. Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire
Another family-friendly nature reserve near Nottingham was opened in the 1960′s by Sir David Attenborough. The walk is nearly 4 miles long, has wide paths and can even accommodate pushchairs. It takes visitors from pond to pond for nearly two hours and is perfect for bird watching in Autumn and Winter, including, according to the visitor centre, two fish-eating birds, the goosander and the merganser.
9. Ystwyth Valley, near Aberystwyth
This walk is set in the grounds of Hafod Uchtryd and occupies 500 acres of the Ystwyth valley. There are many huge beeches, red oaks and larches (the only ‘conifer’ to change colour) that line the walks. My favourite is the short(ish) Gentleman’s walk, which climbs to offer great views over the valley. Much work has been carried out in recent years to restore the many of original walks, which date back to the 18th century. Start your walk at the Church car park.
10. Dove Crag walk, Northumberland
Another 4-mile circular walk at Holystone that will take you through stunning Autumn scenery. The walk is set in the Northumberland National Park and follows a path through oak woodland before climbing to moorland. Here you will find oak, birchwoods and larches. Also look out for birds of prey and red squirrels.
We don’t live too far from Mollington, the village that is home to Anita’s caravan park and is often a perfect family getaway for the weekend, or even overnight, for us.
We are here this weekend as it is the last one before the kids go back to school and unless we get an Indian summer, it will be too cold at night for them to go camping in a tent until Spring.
The site offers pitches for tents, caravans and motorhomes. It also has 4 super family and standard camping pods – for those who like camping but need a little more comfort. The pods enjoy heating, a decked area and seating for a picnic. The site is structured well with hardstanding pitches for caravans and motorhomes and washing facilities offered to all guests are some of the best I have come across.
This time we have brought the kids’ bikes and needless to say they wanted them as soon as they arrived so they could exploring around the site. Which did leave my wife and I to pitch the family tent up ourselves (aka the hard work), although these days we manage to get our Coleman Evanston up in 25 minutes flat.
The site is located next to Anita’s farm with horses, ponies and goats in the small narrow field that separates the farm from the campsite, where children and adults alike can wander up the path next to reception to see them.
The first evening we lined up an open-air cinema for our two before bed, by placing one of their DVD screens on the table inside the tent and we sitting outside, being mindful of the volume. For those purists who talk about camping being a TV free zone, I am with you, but there is something magical for the kids to watch their favourite films ‘al fresco’.
That night, I also had to pay a visit to the fabulous facilities with my youngest at 1am, who had drank too much milk before bed!
Anita’s place is great if you are planning a visit to the northern part of the Cotswolds, Stratford Upon Avon, Leamington Spa and/or Warwick. Or, as is mentioned to me by a number of fellow guests, an overnight stopover for those heading further south or north of the country. For us we were heading to Bourton on the Water for the day, the quintessential town of the Cotswolds; and home to Brum, (a fictional car from the children’s book and TV series) as my daughter remembered.
The next morning, we have our breakfast courtesy our modest camping stove and fresh baked croissants from Anita’s on-site shop, and head home.
Anita and her team are very friendly and take great pride in their site and that can be seen from the welcome to the departure.
For more information about Anita’s visit www.anitascaravanandcottages.co.uk or call tel: 01295 750 731