We have waved goodbye to August, and September is passing before our eyes. For those sun worshippers amongst you, it’s easy to become sad as you mourn the passing of the long, lazy days of summer. But please don’t despair, autumn has lots to offer and it’s a season to be loved and embraced. Here we celebrate ‘Six Reasons to Love Autumn Walks’.
Reason 1: A Colour Fiesta
Ask anyone to name something associated with autumn and their first answer will almost always be the changing colour of trees. Autumn sets tree leaves ablaze with vivid colours; red, yellow, pink, orange, gold and copper, creating one of the most impressive natural displays of the whole year. Visit any deciduous woodland, from a formal arboretum to a local deciduous copse, to enjoy a colourful wonderland that will brighten any autumn day. And once the leaves have begun to fall, there’s a great opportunity for kids and big kids alike to indulge in some jumping, dancing and kicking around on the crunchy forest floor.
Reason 2: Cooler Days Means Longer Walks
The height of summer may be good for lounging around, but it’s impossible to walk very far in 30 degree heat. Children and dogs can overheat in the full sun, you need to smother yourself in sun cream and after just a few miles the heat begins to make you flag. Bring on autumn I say! The cooler days mean you can pick up the pace and take the challenge of a slightly longer iFootpath walk. Wait for a clear dry day to climb to the top of ridge or hill and take in the magnificent colour of autumn views.
Reason 3: Real Fires and Hot Chocolate
When you’ve been out walking in the colder weather, there’s nothing better than some lovely home (or pub!) comforts. It’s time to warm yourself in front of a real fire, defrosting your toes and sinking into a comfortable sofa. And there’s no better excuse to indulge in some comfort food...after all, that cold weather makes you burn more calories as you walk. Treat yourself to a bowl of hot creamy soup or an indulgent hot chocolate topped with marshmallows. Simply select an iFootpath pub walk and indulge your autumn cravings.
Reason 4: Have Fun with Fashion
Time to put away your shorts, t-shirts and sandals (they’re not very practical through nettles and over rocks anyway!) and unleash your seasonal fashion diva. Autumn and winter mean you will need extra layers to keep you at the right temperature as you walk...and that means lots of opportunity to express your personality. Shivering is never in style. Bundle up beautifully and ward off the chill with faux fur hoods, pom poms, faux shearling coat linings, stylish wool hats, elaborate knits, colourful gloves and jaunty scarves...your imagination is the only limit.
Reason 5: Wildlife Wonders
You might think that autumn is the time when our animals are beginning to slow down for the winter, or even to migrate to warmer climes. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Tens of millions of birds are arriving from places such as Scandinavia and the arctic, where winters are far harsher than ours. Look out for colourful thrushes like fieldfares and redwings, as well as geese and swans. Our starling population numbers are bolstered by migrants fleeing the extreme cold of eastern Europe and some of the most magnificent wildlife wonders of autumn come in the form of starling murmerations. Near dusk, thousands of starlings take flight together, forming hypnotic dark clouds that rise, wheel and turn in perfect unison. Hotspots for these displays include the Somerset Levels, the RSPB sites at Saltholme, Malltraeth and Fen Drayton Lakes plus Brighton and Blackpool Piers.
The annual deer rut is also iconic of autumn. Stags perform awe inspiring, violent contests competing for the right to father the next generation. Woodlands, parks and country estates are good places to catch a glimpse of these majestic battles but be sure to watch from a safe distance.
If you’re heading to the coast look out for beaches that are home to grey seal colonies with thousands of seals coming ashore to give birth to adorable pups. Again, be sure to watch from a safe distance as the mothers are fiercely defensive of their young.
Reason 6: Plenty of Room for Mushrooms
When you’re out walking in autumn remember to look out for a charming spectacle to be found under your feet. From September onwards, with the ground still warm but becoming damp, there is an explosion of mushrooms and toadstools happening right across the country. With a huge variety of shapes, colours and sizes they make a beguiling addition to woodland floors, decaying logs, trees, meadows and fields. Don’t risk picking them for your evening meal though...it takes a real expert to identify the edible varieties.
18 September 2015