So many of our guests carry a particular fondness for Autumn and cannot wait to head down to the West Country to enjoy this vibrant and spectacular season. In celebration of this time of harvest and thanksgiving, here are a few of your favourite Autumnal things…
Wrap up Warm for a Woodland Walk
The woodlands are in the grips of Autumn, sycamore seeds spin to the ground blown on the north-easterly bellows; in the meadows and orchards ripened apples continue to tumble along with the deep red conkers burst from their spikey husks and gathered up by excited school children. All around us nature’s rich larder is falling, much to the delight of our beloved woodland creatures now busy stocking up and fattening for winter. There’s nowhere more resplendent in Autumn than the Hampshire New Forest, with its dazzling arboreal displays of red, yellow and orange. There are hundreds of tracks and trails to explore under the ancient boughs of these magical trees. This time of year, visitors to the forest are treated to the sight of pigs truffling for fallen acorns during what is known as ‘pannage’ and the rutting and rumbling of stags in the morning mist.
A Cosy Corner in a Country Pub
The chimneys have been swept and the logs brought in. All over the West Country our wonderful taverns and inns are preparing for the colder months ahead. What better way to finish your invigorating autumnal stroll than hunkering down in a cosy corner of a traditional country pub next to a roaring open fire with a pint of local ale. These olde worlde meeting places have been offering food and shelter to wayfarers for centuries; history etched into their noggins and timbers, a place where smugglers once sipped on snifters of ‘mother’s ruin’ after moonlit scurries down sleepy hollows, and where fishermen still sing their merry shanties.
All over the West Country people have been heading out with their baskets to the fields and meadows to pick wild mushrooms. These tasty and healthy morsels seem to miraculously pop up over night and make for some delicious dishes. If you’re a novice to mushroom foraging but want to learn how to distinguish your puffballs from your beefsteaks, why not join an expert for a course in wild dining. Join up with like-minded individuals all eager to hone their skills and discover the fruits of Mother Nature’s larder.
This time of year we are treated to one of nature’s most impressive spectacles. All across the West Country wildlife enthusiasts gather to watch the murmurations of starlings; a hypnotic display that usually takes place at dusk close to a favoured roosting site. You might be lucky and stumble across one of these impressive events, but if you’d like to guarantee a front row seat there are several settings across the South West where you can enjoy these incredible congregations; two of the most popular sites being the Ham Wall on the Avalon Marshes and the Westhay National Nature Reserve, both in Somerset.
Apple Days and Harvest Festivals
It’s not too late to catch a traditional West Country harvest festival. All around the region towns and villages are celebrating this year’s harvest with fetes and jamborees full of homegrown fayre. From cider flagons to pumpkin pie, you’ll find some real treats in the ancient barrow markets and amongst the farmers’ stalls, all locally grown, lovingly tended, and ripe with flavour.
Seal Pups and Honking Geese
There are lots of wonderful happenings taking place all over the rugged and beautiful South West peninsula this Autumn. One of the most endearing has to be the arrival of this year’s seal pups. After fattening up on the summer shoals, female grey seals haul themselves up onto secluded coves and beaches ready to give birth. The adorable pups are born white as snow and brave the harsher winter months before learning to navigate the seas on their own. You might also hear the characterful honk of Canada Geese as they fly in their iconic V-shaped formations across the headland in search of richer feedings grounds, one of the most recognisable sounds of Autumn.
Enjoy the sights and sounds of Autumn when you book a cosy escape with Toad Hall Cottages. Our delightful dwellings are the perfect place for you to hunker down after an invigorating coastal walk or woodland ramble. Come and embrace the beautiful West Country.