Fun family activities to enjoy this autumn

I love autumn. The colours, the light, the leaves you crunch whilst on a walk, the precious gems to be found in the form of blackberries, conkers, golden leaves and pine cones. Then coming home after an outdoor exploration to snuggle under a blanket with the candles lit.

My kids and husband, however, can need a bit more persuading to get outside as the temperatures drop and the days get shorter. I have found a few ways to encourage them to step away from the central heating and to get outside, and wanted to share them with you so you and your family can remain active as summer becomes a distant memory.

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Go for a walk in the woods

I know it’s obvious but there is so much to love about walking through the woods during autumn. It is truly a delight for all the senses: the sounds of the leaves as you crunch through them, the touch of a perfect conker just fallen from the tree, the smell of the fallen leaves, and of course, the sight of the amazing pallet of colour that autumn brings. It’s a pure joy to see and, thankfully, one that doesn’t seem to fade with age.

Nearby my favourite wood is Greyfield Wood, simply because it’s the closest to my house and therefore easy to pop to for a quick dog walk or run. If we’re off for a day-trip though my hands-down favourite place to experience autumn has to be Westonbirt Arboretum.

We’ve been members of Westonbirt ever since our children were babies, as I loved being able to walk for miles there with the buggy, and would often meet friends there. It is very popular during autumn so you are sharing the trees (and cafe, toilets and play areas) with loads of other people, but this doesn’t diminish the magic of this fabulous place. Also half of the arboetum is open to dogs, meaning pooch can stretch his or her legs whilst all the other members of the family do.

There are always family activities going on during weekends and school holidays at the arboretum. And even during the week the hunt to find the wooden statue Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child and the play areas dotted amongst the trees keep children interested in the walk.

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Geo caching

I don’t know who came up with Geocaching but I am a major fan. I basically use geocaching to trick my children into going for a walk. It turns a normal walk into an exciting treasure hunt, which means they (and therefore I) walk far further than they would on a normal walk (and they moan far less too).

Geocaches are objects or boxes that have been placed in a hidden location. You can see where nearby geocaches are by using an app such as ‘Geocaching’, which also gives you clues to help you find the geocache should you need it. You never know what you might find.

Geocaches are all over the place, and I know many of the National Trust properties have them too. Let me know what you find, or you could even hide your own.

Don’t banish the bikes yet

Before the ice and frost of winter is here, there’s still time to get out on your bikes. Our local area is truly blessed for cycle paths, which allow you to cycle for miles without having to go anywhere near a road.  

The Bristol – Bath cycle path, The Strawberry Line and Radstock – Frome/Mells cycle paths are my favourites locally. You can drive down to the start of the path and go as far (or not) as you want.

Alternatively if you’re trying to increase your aerobic activity you could always run alongside cycling kids. This works well during school holidays when it can be harder to fit your normal workouts in.

Pick a pumpkin

Turn Halloween preparations into an excuse to get active, and have some fun at the same time, by going to pick your own pumpkin. Doing so will not only get everyone out for a walk, but will also help your children learn about where food comes from, and may encourage them to try eating pumpkins too. Locally you can pick your own at Farrington Farm Shop as part of their Spookley Pumpkin Festival

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Make the most of the National Trust 

The National Trust has become far more family-friendly over recent years, and now many of the properties offer activities to celebrate autumn, especially over the half term week. From Halloween-themed walking trails, to pumpkin carving, leaf collecting and craft activities, there is often enough to interest children that they don’t even realise they’ve been out for a walk. 

My family’s favourite local properties are:

Stourhead – There are grottos and temples to discover here

Dyrham Park – Spot the deer and enjoy the play areas here

Tyntesfield – Has some brilliant play areas hidden in the woods

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Admire the view

It’s very hard to beat the view over the “Bath bowl” over autumn. Although the sight of Bath sprawling below you from Alexandra Park or the Bath Skyline Walk is always stunning, it is even more so when those honey-hued spires and crescents are set off by the golds, reds and oranges of the autumn trees that stand proudly amongst them.

It’s easy to entice children to Alexandra Park, as there’s a play area right on the top of the hill, and they love to watch the trains pulling into and out of Bath Spa station below them.

If the views alone are not enough to entice the children to enjoy the Skyline walk though (they sadly aren’t for mine), the two-mile section of it that is set up as a ‘Family Discovery Trail’ may just do the trick. This takes in the brilliant woodland play area at Claverton Down and the ‘Long Wood Elf and Fairy Foray’ where children delight in finding the fairy doors nestled in the tree trunks. This trail definitely encourages my children to walk further than normal without moaning. 

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Run the night

Look out for night runs in your local area. These encourage both adults and children to adorn themselves with glowing headbands, head torches and fluorescent clothing and to tackle a route in the dark. Locally there is one taking place in Exeter in November, and there will be one on the Longleat estate, although details are yet to be announced. Keep an eye on the Glow in the Dark website if you would like to take part.

I hope these suggestions encourage you and your families to get active outside this autumn. I’d love to see what you get up to. Please let me know, and share any other suggestions, by tagging me in your Instagram photos with @hilton_health.

Get outdoors

The temperatures may be dropping and the days may be getting shorter, but that doesn’t mean outdoor family activities are over until next spring. Dress for the weather and head outdoors to enjoy the many delights of autumn. Here are a few ideas for ways you can enjoy this crisp and colourful season whilst keeping active in the Bath and Bristol area.

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Laura Hilton