22 September is the Autumn Equinox and the first day of England's most gloriously colourful – and some would say delicious – season. As the colours change, the apples turn rosy and the nights draw in, discover unique English activities from cider-making to red deer spotting via mushroom foraging and autumn colour walks.
TASTY FOOD FESTIVALS
Autumn is synonymous with abundance and harvest, when so many of England's tastiest produce is in its fullest flavour – and what's more, 17 September to 2 October is British Food Fortnight, so all the more reason to investigate all things edible. York's biggest food and drink festival transforms the city into a foodie wonderland from 23 September – 2 October, with events ranging from a Chocolate Tasting Panel to a Gin Tipple Lunch taking place across various venues including some of the city's most historic buildings including, for the first time, the 17th century King's Manor. 1 October sees the Forest of Dean's Forest Showcase Food Festival, a 'celebration of food, music and art' held in the grounds of the splendid Speech House Hotel; expect top local and artisan producers, a mouth-watering array of hot food, real ale and wine, plus talks, parent and child cookery lessons, chef demos and live music. And celebrate the sausage in Lincolnshire on 22 October, at the Lincoln Sausage Festival, which presents the county's famous export in the castle grounds – 30,000 bangers are served on the day.
Autumn = apples to many people, while for many others apples = cider. Impress your friends with a home-made brew after a visit to Upper Neatham Farm's Practical Cider Making Course. Organised over the course of a weekend at the idyllic Hampshire property – whose orchard has 100 trees of different varieties – the course will teach you to select, prepare and pick apples, press them into juice and then follow the fermentation process to make them that much more delicious; choose from residential or non-residential packages. For a family-friendly celebration of the apple, also in Hampshire, head to Blackmoor Estate's Apple Tasting Day on 8 October. The free event presents the opportunity to taste an incredible variety of apples, meet an 'apple doctor' (to identify mystery apples), as well as enjoy horse and cart rides, Morris dancing and more.
Foraging is all the rage among top chefs and no wonder – discovering your own ingredients in the wild, picking them, then cooking them is far more fulfilling than a trek to the local supermarket. Tudor Farmhouse Hotel is a former working farm that has been stylishly converted into a boutique hotel with a gastronomic edge, thanks to its award-winning head chef Rob Cox and in-house forager Raoul van Den Broucke. Raoul runs fascinating foraging expeditions that take guests out into the beautiful Forest of Dean countryside to collect seasonal delicacies, followed by a sumptuous lunch. Tudor Farmhouse is also offering an Autumn Leaves Escape package – ideal, combined with a foraging course. For those who can't resist the heady smell of a freshly unearthed mushroom, Suffolk Market runs Mushroom Foraging and Wild Cooking events. Each starts with a walk through ancient woodland in the heart of Constable country, continues with plenty of mushroom identifying and picking, and ends with lunchtime treats made from the fruits of your forage. And you get a goody bag full of recipes, a foraging calendar and a selection of wild food products to take home!