Autumn is a fabulous time of year. The trees are full of colour and the shorter nights allow you to catch the spectacular sunrises and sunsets that can be seen this time of year. It is a great time for foraging as well. I have many happy memories of hunting for conkers during the Autumn. Blackberries, apples and elderberries are easy to find and are great for making gorgeous puddings. Sweet chestnuts can also be picked up and taken home to roast. Why not get into the forest this Autumn and explore?
This year the experts are predicting that the weather conditions this year will result in beautiful colour displays int eh forests. A survey has shown that 96% of people said that beautiful Autumn colours improve their mood. Exploring the forest will result in a mood lift and also provide exercise and fresh air. The Forestry Commission has a number of activities that will get you outdoors and will “Colour You Happy” this Autumn. I have put together a list of ten things to do in the forest this Autumn that will get you outside.
Why not follow an Autumn Activity Trail? Found in Forestry Commission Forests across England these walks take in the best of the Autumn colours and places of interest in each forest. What better way to get some fresh air than spending an hour off the beaten track? Why not treat yourself to lunch or tea and a slice of cake when you finish your walk in the local visitor centre?
While you are out walking in the forest why not pick up brightly coloured leaves and other objects and add them to the giant weaving looms found in a number of different forests.
Over the Autumn these should become colourful artworks created by everyone who has visited the forest. I am sure children will love finding objects to add to these looms.
Make sure you take your camera and capture the gorgeous colours that you can find in the forests at this time of year. We visited Hamsterley Forest a couple of years ago and the scenery was amazing. Even though it was damp seeing the colours in the trees was uplifting. Why not enter your photographs in the Forestry Commission Autumn Photo Competition? You can win an annual discovery pass, Go Ape vouchers and a chance for your photo to be featured on the Forestry Commission web page. The competition ends on the 7th November 2016.
Why not build a den in the woods just like Pete did in the Disney film Pete’s Dragon? The Forestry Commission have put together a Pete’s Dragon activity pack. Explore the forest with your children and track local wildlife and discover minibeasts. You never know you may even see a dragon! The activity packs can be picked up free at the visitor centres or downloaded on-line.
Have a treasure hunt in the forest and collect leaves and seeds. You can take these home and make art works from them. Children will love to this. Why not get some poster paint and use the leaves to make patterns on coloured paper or card? These could be turned into bookmarks or book covers. Fashion acorns and conkers into little insects or mini beasts using paint and stickers.
Sometimes there is nothing nicer than just stopping for a while and enjoying being somewhere. Go for a walk and take in the sights and sounds of the forest. Stop for a while and fill in an adult colouring sheet. This is a great way to relax and get some time for yourself. Why not just stop and read a book for a while in the stillness of the woods?
The forest is a great place to find fruit, seeds and berries you can eat. Do make sure you are picking the right thing first, you do not want to poison yourself. Look for blackberries, apples, crab apples, hawthorns, sloes and elderberries. These can be turned into delicious pies and jellies. Beech nuts are small nuts similar to a walnut in taste but hard to find as squirrels love them. Also look out for sweet chestnuts which can be roasted under a grill.
The forests are home to a large mix of wildlife, from mini-beasts to birds, squirrels and even deer. Walk quietly though the forest or just sit for a while and see what you can spot. In Kielder Water you may even see a red squirrel or at certain times of year spot an osprey.
What could be more fun? Go on, I know you want to! Find a pile of leaves and jump into them or swish them up in the air with your feet.
With the nights getting shorter why not take a trip into the forest at night and enjoy the night sky. Kielder Water and Forest Park is a dark sky park and has its own observatory. This runs different star gazing events though the year. Over the Autumn there are a series of aurora nights where you can learn all about what causes auroras and how to spot them. With the lack of interference from the lights the stars look much brighter. Why not take a tent and camp overnight?
Information about Autumn in the forests can be found on the Forestry Commission website.
Woven woodlands can be found in the following locations:
Download a Pete’s Dragon activity pack
Download a colouring sheet
Are you going to get outside into the forest this Autumn? What adventures do you have planned? Let me know below. If you are hunting the Great North Snowdogs there is one to be found in Kielder Forest. Another good reason to visit.