Autumn Equinox is around the corner (22nd September) bringing with it a host of new season treats, from wildlife wonders and golden landscapes to the chance to explore our landmarks, icons and coastal gems without the crowds.
VisitEngland has launched a new hub at visitengland.com/escape with a wealth of ideas to help Brits Escape the Everyday, from the best road autumn road trips to seasonal gourmet getaways. To celebrate, here’s our pick of 22 autumnal escapes across the country.
Discover something new
From off the beaten track hidden gems to culture without the queues, discover something unexpected this Autumn.
England’s emerging artists; Class of 2020 at The Hari, London
Taking over The Hari’s sought-after public spaces is a contemporary exhibition celebrating emerging talent from London art schools. The Class of 2020 exhibition offers a platform to those who sacrificed their potential career-launching degree shows due to the lockdown this summer. Until February 2021
Discover city music culture on a John Lennon at 80 tour, Liverpool
Follow in the footsteps of John Lennon, who would have turned 80 this autumn. With a city centre packed with Beatles landmarks, the leafy suburb of Woolton helps you discover John’s life. There you can walk around Mendips, the house John grew up in, visit his beloved Strawberry Field (recently opened to the public for the first time) and see St. Peter’s Church, where he first met a young man called Paul McCartney.
NEW – Blenheim Palace Inspired Art Exhibition at Blenheim Palace
The ‘Cecily Brown Art Exhibition’ features all new work created by the New York-based artist directly in response to the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site. Brown’s large-scale, sensual, semi-abstract artworks have cemented her as one of the most important painters of her generation.
Make your visit to Blenheim an overnight stay, camping in the Palace grounds with Caravan Club’s pop up site. Witness sunset over Blenheim as you settle in for the night and awaken as the sunrises on a new day over the magnificent grounds and gardens. Currently – 1 November Prices from £23.10 per night (includes two adults, Caravan Club members offer).
Set in some of the most famous and spectacular caves in the UK, test your adrenaline levels with Wild Wookey caving, a VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2020 winner. The experience includes abseiling, traversing over deep water, Via Ferrata climbs, awesome views, a boat river crossing, zip line exit and the chance to see rare geological and archaeological treasures.
In the heart of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, autumn brings a treasure trove of delights to indulge in, with hazelnuts, whinberries, mushrooms, apples, pears and famous Shropshire prune damsons all growing in our meadows.
Join the team for Autumn Apple Day with tours of the orchards, apple pressing and jelly making demonstrations and lots of fun activities for all the family. Enjoy homemade cider or apple juice and deliciously prepared apple delights in the café. Price: free October 25 shropshirehillsdiscoverycentre.co.uk/
Night walks and star gazing, Exmoor National Park
Delve into the world of astronomy on a guided walk through Exmoor, an International Dark Sky Reserve and home to some of the darkest skies in the country, with a local astronomer. Witness the sights as you walk under the blanket of stars, with interesting insights and a tasty supper in a nearby pub to finish up the evening.
Bask in the glow of autumn colours on an English Arboretum trail
From The National Memorial Arboretum to Batsford and Westonbirt, a walk in an English woodland is a must this autumn. Forestry England sites across the country offer a wealth of seasonal trails and events. For something different, try a Foraged Colour Workshop at Westonbirt Arboretum, where a sustainable artist will be teaching eco-dying techniques.
Whether by road or rail, canal boat, bike or foot, an off grid escape or a crowd free city adventure, make your weekends count.
Kayaking on the Tyne, Newcastle Gateshead
Explore the sights of Newcastle and Gateshead from a whole new perspective with CBK’s Adventure Co.’s kayak tour of the River Tyne. Taking in unrivalled views of the famous seven bridges of the Tyne and Quayside, there is no jostling for position here as you quietly paddle beneath the bridges, snapping pictures and enjoying the view as you go.
Explore Ice Age England at Creswell Crags, Nottinghamshire
Take a fascinating exploration of limestone gorge, honeycombed with caves and smaller fissures. Witness stone tools and remains of animals found in the caves by archaeologists that reveal the fascinating story of life during the last Ice Age between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago. Learn about Britain’s only known Ice Age rock art and the largest collection of ‘witches’ marks’ found in British caves discovered in 2018.
Take to the open road with a difference on a chauffeured Boom trike experience. Take in the beauty of Chiltern’s ancient woodland, picturesque villages and discover stories, myths and legends of the area, or perhaps make a day of it stopping off for local gin or beer or a scrumptious afternoon tea.
Witness autumn colours at their best on horseback through the wilds of open moorland and ancient woodland of Dartmoor, with local guides telling tales of the history, terrain and nature of this most beautiful place. Finishing up with a wholesome lunch and a glass or two of wine to complete a truly special experience.
NEW Scent and Sights of Jane Austen’s Life, East Hampshire
Step back in time to Jane’s 1816 home and experience aspects of her daily life, including her early morning piano practice. A new multi-sensory experience using scent and sound to bring the house to life, visitors will also see new objects of Jane’s on display. Explore the area on a literary trail of beautiful landscapes, celebrating the area’s connections with Jane Austen and other British literary masters including Gilbert White, Britain’s first ecologist and wartime poet Edward Thomas amongst others.
Pumpkin Grotto at Groombridge Place, Tunbridge Wells
The secret garden with its gentle stream and wooden bridge will be transformed into a magical pumpkin grotto. See if you can spot all the hidden pumpkins and if you come in fancy dress there may be something special waiting for every ghoul, ghost, phantom and skeleton! Afterwards, discover Crusoe’s World with its wooden rope bridge, giant wooden ship, rope swings and zip wire or walk along the canal, through the forest and you might catch a glimpse of the resident herd of fallow deer.
October - 1 November. From family (one under 12) £25.00; adults £8.95, children £6.95. groombridgeplace.com
Take some time for self-care, whether it’s a pampering spa break; indulgent foodie feasting weekend or nurturing escape.
NEW - Champneys spa at Mottram Hall, Cheshire
Luxury spa brand Champneys is launching its first northern outpost due to open in the coming weeks. The £10m new spa includes a 20-metre swimming pool with private cabanas, a sophisticated thermal suite with steam room, saunas and experience showers, treatments by Elemis and Clarins, a gym, activity studios, restaurant and café, and the UK’s first Champneys barbershop. The new spa is part of a £15m revamp of the country-house hotel with championship golf course near Macclesfield.
Escape to an idyllic coastal retreat – New National Trust Holiday Cottages Pentire Farmhouse and Pengirt, Polzeath, Cornwall
Both Cornish farmhouses have been lovingly restored with traditional touches. Perched on the Pentire headland, with glorious sea views and discover craggy cliffs, blooming wildflowers, wildlife and miles of coastal footpath. A short walk away is the sandy beach of Pentireglaze Haven, linking to Polzeath beach, the perfect spot for surfers at low tide.
Offering a unique approach to achieving wellbeing and wellness through connection with nature and the calming presence of horses, the course includes open-air mindfulness sessions and walk and talk with horses. The perfect way to enjoy the tranquil beauty of Exmoor in autumn.
Join Island Yogi Gem Hansen and guest tutor Will Harrigan for five serene nights of meditative practice, yoga and island hopping. From guided mindfulness walks around Tresco's north coast, to sun salutations to an island sunrise, the retreat promises to be simultaneously grounding and uplifting.
NEW Orchard Cycling Trails, North and South Hereford
Two new trails showcasing Herefordshire’s apple heritage launch this September, just in time for harvest’s bumper crop. Illustrated maps and descriptions of suggested spotting points will be available for download from the website. Visitors can enjoy cider tastings, restaurants, pubs and cafes serving apple themed tasting menus, the chance to meet some of the award-winning producers and explore the county’s incredible landscapes and orchards.
Join Nomadic Dining for a foraging feast. Set in secluded woodland you will immerse into a magical experience of living of the land, cooking over wild fires and menus curated by the fruits and finds of your forest forage.
Join the Goring family of Wiston Estate for a tour of the vines just before harvest season, find out about the history of the family and the estate and finish up with a sample or two of England’s finest sparkling wines.
October dates: 3, 24, 30 October Price £10.00 (redeemable against wine purchased on the day) wistonestate.com
For more inspiration check out visitengland.com/escape and follow @visitengland on social channels #VisitEngland #EscapeTheEveryday