There’s already a noticeable nip in the air. The days are getting shorter, mahogany conkers are gathering on the ground, and the leaves are starting to pile up too, in their crinkly brown heaps.
Now that summer is a fading happy memory, it’s time to embrace chilly walks, hot chocolate, pumpkins, bonfires and long evenings in front of a cosy fire.
The West Country is the perfect place to appreciate the joys of autumn and spend your October half term break. Whether you’re simply looking to recharge your batteries by the coast with lazy lie-ins followed by lengthy clifftop walks admiring the churning sea, or you’re treating the kids to an active week of Halloween-themed spooky fun in one of the many South West-based family attractions – a half term holiday in the laid-back West Country offers welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, helping you return refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for anything!
Here’s our top pick of 20 things to do in the West Country this October half term…
October is a great time to catch some waves. the sea is still relatively warm at this time of year, and the surf is pretty reliable too. We recommend booking a holiday cottage near one of these surf hot spots to enjoy the best waves: Polzeath in North Cornwall, Croyde in North Devon, or Bantham and Bigbury-on-Sea in South Devon.
2. Coast Path Walks
A walk along the South West Coast Path is lovely all year round, but in October blustery days and stormy seas combine to provide a more exhilarating experience. Wrap up in weather-appropriate gear and get ready to blow the cob webs away.
The West Country is famous for its long coastline and abundance of unspoilt beaches. There’s no reason why sand-castle building, ball games and even swimming should be restricted to the summer months. The beaches are less crowded but equally beautiful in October. What’s more, beach dog restrictions will have been lifted, so your pooch can enjoy free-run too!
4. Eden Project
The famous biomes are well worth visiting at any time of year, but this October half term children and adults alike will love Eden’s spook-tacular take on Roald Dahl’s most terrible villains. Expect tricks, pranks, surprises and frights from the evil stars of five of his most beloved books – The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, BFG, The Twits, and Matilda. Chilling ice skating sessions are also available.
5. Camel Trail Bike Ride
Hire bikes from Wadebridge and enjoy 18 miles of breathtaking Cornish countryside cycling along the largely traffic-free disused railway line that links Bodmin to Padstow. The landscape is varying yet always stunning, and there are plenty of tempting places to stop to refuel – whether for lunch, ice cream, or a Cornish cream tea. Padstow is a lovely seaside town with lots to see and do, including quirky shops, bakeries, cafes, sweet shops and famous Rick Stein fish and chips!
6. Tintagel Castle
The iconic castle ruins at Tintagel, perched on Cornwall’s rugged north coast between Padstow and Bude, are all the more atmospheric with a stormy autumnal backdrop. Visit to immerse yourself in dramatic coastline, history, myths and stunning scenery.
7. Lost Gardens of Heligan
Discovered under a tangle of weeds 25 years ago, today the Lost Gardens of Heligan are among the finest gardens in Cornwall. This October half term there will be tales to enchant, spooky woods to explore, creepy crafts and a whole lot more!
8. Dartmoor Rambles
From rugged tors, to wooded valleys and sweeping countryside, Dartmoor’s contrasting landscapes are at their most delightful during autumn’s colourful display. Take a day out (or a week) to lose yourself in this stunning wilderness and reconnect with nature at this most beautiful time of year.
9. Becky Falls, Dartmoor
These iconic waterfalls in their idyllic Dartmoor setting offer a super family-friendly day out. Dog-friendly woodland walks, letterboxing trail, meet the meerkats, scary animal encounter shows and much more.
10. Start Point Lighthouse, near Kingsbridge
Enjoy spectacular sweeping views across Start Bay from this most southerly headland in Devon. Visit for rugged rocky scenery, fascinating lighthouse tours, and if you’re lucky you might even spot a seal resting on the rocks below.
11. Overbecks National Trust, Salcombe
Overbecks is the fascinating home of an eccentric inventor perched high on a cliff overlooking stunning Salcombe. The exotic gardens look particularly pretty in autumn, and the house features quirky wildlife collections, a resident ghost for children to find in the doll’s house, and delicious Devon cream teas you’ll find hard to resist!
12. Dinosaur Museum, Torquay
This October half term, as well as dinosaurs and fossils, discover wicked witches, ghastly ghosts and ghouls, deathly demons, a Halloween Horrors Hunt and a ‘Lights Out Torch Tour’ – exploring the exhibition in the dark accompanied by a scary ghost story… if you’re brave enough!
13. Babbacombe Model Village, Torquay
During October half term, Babbacombe Model Village takes on a spooky twist with miniature Halloween scenes and displays around the gardens all day, and atmospheric Halloween lights, sounds and fire effects from dusk.
14. South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh to Totnes
Travel back in time with a trip along this nostalgic steam railway running through the scenic countryside between Totnes and Buckfastleigh. During this October half term they’re offering ‘kids for a quid’ on the steam trains. Be sure to visit the popular miniature train at Buckfastleigh while you’re there for a memorable ride along the riverside.
15. Dartington Hall Estate, near Totnes
Over 800 acres of forests, gardens and rivers looking beautiful in their autumn splendour. A wide choice of walks to suit all levels of ability and dog-friendly routes available.
16. Forde Abbey
Just 30 mins from Lyme Regis, nestled in picturesque countryside, this historic house and gardens provides the perfect place to enjoy autumn’s stunning display. At half term, indulge in spine-tingling fun with a haunted trail, pumpkin rolling and all sorts of other spooky happenings designed to set your pulse racing.
17. Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis – Halloween children’s workshops
Spooky children’s workshops, pumpkin carving, magic lanterns and scary witches, and much more! Wednesday 25th, Friday 27th and Saturday 28th October.
18. Lyme Regis Museum
Discover everything there is to know about the 185 million-year-old, world heritage Jurassic Coast at the Lyme Regis Museum. Featuring fascinating displays, talks, walks, rockpooling, fossil hunting and family fun days.
19. Lyme Slime Halloween Festival
This year sees a new addition to Lyme Regis’s autumn calendar of events. The ‘Lyme Slime Halloween Festival’ is billed to be a week-long spooky extravaganza of frightfully fun activities in venues all around the town during October half term. Highlights include a spine-tingling town trail, beastly baking, creepy crafts, Rocky Horror Picture Show and the Lyme Slime Fun Run.
20. Kingston Lacy House & Gardens, National Trust
Family adventures celebrating autumn featuring trails, stories, arts and crafts designed to make the most of the season’s colours, textures in the beautiful house and gardens.