Veronica Henry explains why she loves Devon in the Autumn

Novelist Veronica Henry

Novelist Veronica Henry - Credit: Archant

Author Veronica Henry tells Devon Life why she loves living in North Devon in the autumn

Autumn colours around the lake at RHS Garden Rosemoor.

Autumn colours around the lake at RHS Garden Rosemoor. - Credit: RHS / Oliver Kite

As the days start to shorten and the sun lies lower in the sky, visitors start to drift away from the hotspots of North Devon and leave those of us who live there time and space to enjoy its splendours in relative peace.

An autumn breeze whips up as the leaves turn gold, but very often the sun shines on throughout September and October, making picnics and barbecues and sneaky swims a pure pleasure, even if a judicious cardigan or hoody might be needed.

Now the roads across the moor are less crowded with caravans, we venture out on a family outing to Landacre Bridge or Tarr Steps for a literally breath-taking dip. If we feel more intrepid, we head to Pinkery Pond in the early morning, where an eerie mist hovers over the water, making us feel as if we are in a world inhabited by elves and wizards.

And now the sun is less relentless, I love being buffeted by the breeze on a stomp around Baggy Point, looking out to Lundy, and then reward myself with a rib-sticking roast lunch at the Kings Arms in Georgeham, finished off with coffee by the roaring log fire: the first of many Sunday treats.

Autumn is the time to harvest sloes

Autumn is the time to harvest sloes - Credit: Getty Images/Zoonar RF

My favourite autumn past-time is picking blackberries in the dunes on the coast, and using them to make a crumble served with thick dollops of Devon cream.

Sloes, too, make their appearance, and I rely on farming friends to give me the heads up on where to get the best of the harvest. It’s wise to wait for the first frost to nip at the plum-dark berries before embarking on gin-making. By Christmas I will have an unctuous, jewel bright liqueur ready to make Sloegasms – an inch of sloe gin topped up with champagne or prosecco, which is guaranteed to get any party going.

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Now the hordes have gone, a bicycle ride on the Tarka trail is less hazardous. We start with cake and cappuccinos at Fremington café, then even the least outward-bound of my friends and family can manage the beautifully flat trip down to Instow for lunch.

For a stunning palette of autumn colour, RHS Rosemoor is always a source of inspiration, with its intricate planting plans. From deep rich burgundy to scarlet, vermilion, crimson, burnt orange and citric yellow, it proves that the colours of autumn can be just as, if not more, inspiring than summer.

I love wandering around the gardens, analysing how the plants have been juxtaposed for best effect, then maybe buying a few in the nursery in the hope of creating my own little garden paradise at home.

A Devon autumn isn’t complete without a trip to South Molton Farmer’s Market, to view the abundant harvest produce and get culinary inspiration for the coming winter. I take a big basket and stock up on venison for warming casseroles, Reblochon and Gruyere for stodgy potato gratins and tartiflettes, and pumpkins – of course – for glorious golden soups and lanterns to light the way for ghosties and ghouls and goblins.

Veronica Henry’s latest book High Tide, which is set in the autumn, was published by Orion on 24 September.