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The best things to do in Yorkshire during autumn this year

Bolton Abbey is the perfect place for an autumn walk. Bolton abbey
Bolton Abbey is the perfect place for an autumn walk. Bolton abbey


Great British Life: Baskets of fruits from the orchard at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens.(c) National Trust Images/Paul HarrisBaskets of fruits from the orchard at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens.(c) National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Fruits of the harvest

One of the best places to get your fill of the harvest is Beningbrough Hall near York. Autumn trees are heavy from apples and pears. Look out for events when the fruit is pressed and the freshest juice is available to sample. See giant pumpkins, squashes and gourds of all shapes and sizes. The harvest display is a diverse mix of colour and texture with corn, beets and chard.

Embrace autumn’s splendour

The mild autumn weather makes it perfect for outdoor activities like cycling, horse riding, and walking. Pull on your wellies and venture outside to enjoy the crunch of the fallen leaves, smell of the ripening fruits and beauty of the autumn colour show. Easy to navigate woodland walks to inspire include Bolton Abbey, Aysgarth Falls, Hardcastle Crags, Osmotherly Moors and the Brimham Rocks boundary walk.

Go foraging

Autumn is one of the best times to forage, with woods and hedgerows filled with a feast of fruit and nuts − from hazelnuts to blackberries and sweet chestnuts to crab apples. See The Woodland Trust for its useful guide to foraging which includes pointers on identification along with an important reminder to only collect fruits and nuts where they are in abundance, so that plenty are left behind for birds and other wildlife to eat. At Thorp Perrow Arboretum near Bedale you can join a Fungi Foray on October 15 with the mycological maestro, Dr Keith Thomas, a fountain of knowledge and will show you around the grounds, introducing you to the world of fungi.

Make sloe gin

A great foraging fruit, sloe berries grow on blackthorn, a prickly, traditional hedgerow bush. Although a little sharp for eating straight off the branch, they are perfect for making the jewel coloured, sweet, winter liqueur, you can sip over ice or use in cocktails. Sloe gin is quick and easy to make – all you need are sloes, sugar and gin. For the best flavour, wait until the berries are ripe − they should be a rich, dark purple and squashable! See for a recipe.

Great British Life: Michelle Savage pouring a pint of Wold Top's special Oktoberfest beer Field Day. (c) Wold Top BreweryMichelle Savage pouring a pint of Wold Top's special Oktoberfest beer Field Day. (c) Wold Top Brewery


The traditional Bavarian festival with its focus on beer, feasting and oompah music has definitely found a home in Yorkshire. Choose from Yorktoberfest at York Racecourse, along with ones at Scarborough, Leeds and Sheffield. Wold Top Oktoberfest at Wold Top Brewery near Filey aims to keep things homegrown, using its own barley and water from the farm's borehole to produce its specially brewed Oktoberfest beer.

Get creative

Join an autumn floral masterclass with Vicki Johnston at Highfield, Driffield and create your own wow factor display. The evening Floral Masterclass starts with a glass of prosecco as you immerse yourself in a world of flowers and artistry. Expert tuition for arranging a stunning autumn floral display and afterwards, a cheeseboard and wines, October 26

Photographer's paradise

Autumn in Yorkshire is a gift for photographers. The interplay of light and colour, combined with picturesque landscapes provides endless opportunities for stunning images. Fabulous photos of autumnal landscapes can be taken with an SLR camera or even just a smartphone, with innumerable online tutorials available to help. For professional tuition, Yorkshire Coast Nature hosts year-round experiences on how to capture everything from the seabirds at Bempton Cliffs to the rutting deer at Studley Royal. Or RHS Harlow Carr has a one day photography course on October 20.

Have a conker competition!

Conkers are autumn’s jewels, always a delight to find with their polished mahogany coats. Rather than putting your windfalls on display, why not access your inner child and prepare them for battle? Hardening your conkers is vital competition alchemy, with innumerable sites publishing recipes and suggestions on how best to achieve this. The rules of the game must also be assimilated – the key one being that winner takes all when their opponent’s conker is smashed!

Great British Life: Whitby Abbey illuminations, by Holly Wilkinson, of DanbyWhitby Abbey illuminations, by Holly Wilkinson, of Danby

Lights fantastic

Dark nights mean bright illuminations – the mighty Whitby Abbey looks magnificent illuminated on its cliff top perch and this year the English Heritage property will be lit up between October 21 and 31. Fountains Abbey near Ripon lights up in October too – check the website for up-to-date times.

Plant bulbs for a spring show

The epitome of delayed gratification, bulbs are little bundles of flower power that with the correct planting schedule and a little patience, will reward with big results. Spring bulbs, such as tulips, irises, daffodils, hyacinth, allium and crocus are hardy bulbs, and so need to be planted in autumn, spend winter in the ground to then flower in spring. Inexpensive and easy to plant, bulbs can be grown in beds, containers, window boxes and hanging baskets.

But if you’re after some autumn garden inspiration, head to RHS Harlow Carr on the weekend of October 20-21 where it’s autumn’s Garden Inspiration Weekend, with plant nurseries selling all manner of edible plants, street food and preserves with the 2023 crop. RHS gardeners are on hand to answer any questions about growing vegetables at home and help with any common garden problems.

Great British Life: Wreaths are not just for Christmas - craft an autumnal garland to decorate your home. (c) Getty Wreaths are not just for Christmas - craft an autumnal garland to decorate your home. (c) Getty

Make an autumn wreath

If you love autumn and its colours then why not immortalise them in a seasonal wreath that you can enjoy year after year? The Craft Centre and Design Gallery at Leeds City Art Gallery are hosting a wreath making workshop on October 14 where you can learn how to make use of a variety of autumn leaves and other natural materials to create collage, stitched work and wall hangings in a rustic style – the perfect way to bring nature inside.

The joy of jam

Spread the jam love in Helmsley on October 1 when The Feathers Hotel will be the sweetest spot in town as winners are announced for the World Jam Awards 2023. There are ten categories – including ‘tipsy’. ‘homegrown’ and ‘Farmers Favourite - to be added to a Ploughman's Lunch to make it special’. Michelin star chef Andrew Pern and his team will be doing the judging honours. The event opens at 11am with presentation at noon. There will be stalls selling preserves both sweet and savoury.

Get creative with leaves

There’s one thing that autumn has plenty of…and that is leaves. So why not use them to create beautiful art works? A fun idea for children is to gather the fallen leaves in your garden or park and create giant leaf letters. Spell your family’s names and take photos! You can also print with leaves, flowers and other found objects to create decorative patterns on paper and fabric.

Build a hedgehog house

Hedgehogs love to hibernate in piles of leaves – an exciting prospect, but one that can leave them vulnerable to foxes and other predators. By building a hedgehog house you’ll not only provide them with a safe place to live, but you’ll hopefully see more of them in your garden, which are important havens as they disappear from the wider countryside. The Woodland Trust offers information on how to make a hedgehog house and the foods they need.

Great British Life: Get creative with willow weaving. (c) Dragon WillowGet creative with willow weaving. (c) Dragon Willow

Try willow weaving

Bringing together a natural, sustainable crop and one of the oldest skills known to man, willow weaving allows you to create everything from fencing to trugs and baskets, to animal sculptures and even handbags. The simple resourcefulness of making something entirely out of natural materials has not surprisingly revived the ancient craft with workshops now available all over the region. Look out for Dragon Willow at Tadcaster, Out of the Woods, Leeds and Twigs & Sprigs near Leyburn.

Get spooked

One can’t mention autumn without mentioning Halloween! Try the ghost walks at Hazlewood Castle or York. The Forbidden Corner near Masham is probably one of the strangest places in Yorkshire – perfect for fright hunters of all ages.

Whitby Goth Weekend

Possibly inspired by its close connections to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, or simply because of the historic charm and character of its setting, Whitby has played host to the world’s biggest and best Goth Festival for nearly 30 years. Taking place October 27-29, the town becomes home to thousands of goths, punks and steampunks dressed up and made up for a spectacular celebration of gothic culture, music and fashion.

Great British Life: Keen cooks at Swinton Estate Cookery School. (c) Swinton Estate. Keen cooks at Swinton Estate Cookery School. (c) Swinton Estate.

Get to grips with game

Autumn is a hearty comfort food time of year and Yorkshire game is in season. Get hands-on with a full day cookery experience at Swinton Park. Learn how to prepare, cook and serve a variety of seasonal game. Full day recipes may include: venison olives, roast pigeon with butter beans and mushrooms, game chips, roasted game bird, pheasant kiev, and rabbit saltimbocca.

Travel by a steam train

Why not enjoy the breathtaking views out over one of Yorkshire’s National Parks from a historic steam train? Formed from the middle section of the former Whitby, Pickering and Malton Line, the North York Moors Railway meanders through valleys and forests, providing an unforgettable panorama of the changing season. Heritage stations such as those at Levisham, Goathland and Grosmont also add interest to the route.

Savour the season’s culinary delights:

As the days shorten and the temperature drops it’s the perfect time to start savouring some of the region’s feel-good food. Plan in a comforting and hearty Sunday roast with all the trimmings after a autumnal walk, or make time for a warming cup of tea and a slice of parkin at your favourite café. Even better, rustle up your own fruit crumble made from foraged brambles or windfall apples.

Wander through historic York:

The ancient city of York is always alluring, but on misty, moist days its rich history and medieval architecture really come to life. Stand amongst the fallen leaves and soak up the proportions of the Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe. Enter the magical Shambles, York’s very own Diagon Alley, before concluding with a walk around the city walls, the best way of viewing the many aspects of the city and its great river.

Go back to cookery school

If you're stuck in a mealtime rut, then maybe its time to treat yourself to some culinary inspiration from one of the region’s brilliant cookery schools. You can try Gujarati cooking at the acclaimed Prashad in Bradford; Thai, Chinese and Malaysian at the Old Fire Station in Leeds, even cheese making and patisserie at the School of Artisan Food in Welbeck and – of course − chocolate making in York


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