Our friends over at the Youth Hostel Association have put together this great selection of family friendly walks for this Autumn.
As the temperature begins to cool and the leaves start to fall, there is really no better time than autumn to get outdoors and explore the British countryside. From the golden hills of the Peak District to the deep red and orange forests of Formby in the North West, the UK is teeming with picturesque walks and nature trails which are perfect for ramblers of all ages. However, with so many national parks, forests and trails to choose from, we’ve decided to focus on four areas which are sure to be the most suitable and memorable for kids. Check out our list below!
Lyme Park, Peak District
With its beautiful Edwardian country manor, 1,300-acre estate and medieval herds of Red deer, Lyme Park offers more than just coloured leaves in the autumn months. The park was the setting for the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and it’s easy to see why with its ornate rose gardens, a pristine lake and well restored historical buildings. During autumn, the park really comes alive and usually offers the children the perfect opportunity to witness some spectacular wildlife up close. During October and November, the park’s deer participate in the annual rut which involves the male stags strutting their stuff to compete for the female hinds. Although the stags do confront each other and are usually involved in fierce duels, the experience is not to be missed and the kids should get a real kick out of it. Aside from the walking trails around the park, Lyme Park also contains playscapes, rope walks, tree houses, giant slides and a badger den, so you probably won’t be struggling to keep the kids entertained during a long day out. The YHA’s Hartington Hall is an ideally situated Peak District hostel for families planning to prolong their adventure and explore more of the famous national park the following day.
Formby Red Squirrel Walk, Liverpool
Perched on the coast just north of Liverpool lies the Formby nature reserve, an area renowned for its scenic woodland and beautiful stretches of coastline. The park is also the home to the endangered red squirrel and will offer visitors a rare opportunity to spot the creatures amongst the autumn leaves. Once common in the English countryside, the red squirrel was almost wiped out by the introduction of grey squirrels in the 1800’s. However, a few pockets of the UK still have small populations of the russet rodents and a day out along the Formby Red Squirrel walk will offer youngsters a great location to spot them in. The walk involves pinewood trails and an opportunity for kids to dip their toes in the sea along the beautiful Formby coastline. The National Trust also place feeders in the pine trees during the autumn months so you’re sure to catch a glimpse of the rare redheads if you time your visit around October and November.
Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire
Wicken Fen is the National Trust’s oldest nature reserve and is one of Europe’s most important wetlands, supporting more than 8,500 species of wildlife. The area boasts a landscape of flowering meadows and reed beds, which can be accessed through a raised boardwalk as well as rare opportunities to encounter Konik ponies and wild deer in the surrounding fields. There are a number of walking routes available to explore, from the seven-mile ramble across Burwell Fen to the five-mile walk to Upware and back. The park is also renowned for its autumn events and there are plenty of activities and organised walks taking place throughout October and November which are specifically designed for kids. From ranger walks and family campfire events – where you can cook a three-course meal al fresco – to half term outdoor craft classes and Halloween-themed adventures, you’re sure to find something at Wicken Fen which will appeal to your youngsters.
Gibside, Tyne and Wear
Gibside is a striking 18th-century landscaped country estate, perched amongst the peaks of the Derwent Valley. The area boasts fine views of the valley and comes complete with meandering pathways and open spaces to explore, dotted with buildings and ruins.
Gibside is a Georgian Palladian chapel, which has recently been lovingly restored and is regarded by some as an ‘architectural masterpiece’. There are dozens of picturesque walking spots which really come to life in autumn and with adventure play areas, woodland trails and walled gardens on offer, the place is perfect for any restless young ramblers. Its 15-miles of footpaths offer everything from a short amble with a buggy to a longer hike for older kids while its oak-lined avenue is great for running races from tree to tree. The highland trail lets the kids follow an adventure in the woods while the Strawberry Castle Adventure Play Area offers everything from zip-wires to badger tunnels. Gibside’s Nature Playscape comes with log bridges, a wooden climbing wall and tree-trunk forests with puddles and streams to explore.
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