As children looking forward to a week or two of school holidays in October, parents might be scratching their heads over what to do in the mid-term break. We suggest 10 great outdoor activities for kids and families this autumn.
1) Wild food foraging: Hunting for your wild foods is great fun, although you do need to safely identify what you forage and eat. Join a wild food foraging day and find out what plants, berries and even leaves and stalks are ripe for picking at this time of year. Many foraging leaders will also show you how to cook up some delicious recipes using your foraged foods.
October is the season for picking late wild mushrooms, watercress, rock samphire, rose hips, sloes and wood sorrel.
2) Canoeing: Canadian canoes are perfect for an adult and child and make travelling by river an easy and fun outing. In October you might need to wrap up a little warmer but with modern outdoor clothing it’s no problem staying cosy and dry in less clement weather.
A journey by canoe, whether for a few hours, a day or over several days and nights, offers the perfect opportunity to get away from it all, slow down your pace and catch a glimpse of beautiful landscapes and amazing wildlife.
3) Geocaching: A modern form of the treasure hunt, geocaching gives kids a great reason to set off for a stroll or a longer hike. To start a geocaching outing you can register on the official worldwide Geocaching website, choose a cache to go in search of, log its location on a GPS gadget (such as a mobile phone app) and then set off to find the treasure.
You can enjoy geocaching close to your home or in new locations when on holiday or visiting people across the world.
4) Hill bagging: Many families enjoy walking to the top of a hill. Why not turn this into a family challenge by ticking off identifiable hills? Many hills are listed under categories such as the Wainwrights, Deweys and County Tops, and, in Scotland, the Donalds, Grahams, Corbetts and Munros.
Choose a list of hills to suit the ages of your children and start bagging them during the October holidays. For many families the bagging challenge will last for many happy years to come.
See Hill bagging.
5) Surfing: Surprisingly, autumn is a great time to surf Britain’s waters. Lower pressures bring better swells and more consistent waves in many surfing hotspots and surfers of all experiences find it easier to ride their surfboard.
In addition, after a long summer, the temperature of the sea will be warmer. Today’s modern kit, including wetsuits, neoprene boots, gloves and hoods, makes surfing a comfortable activity even when the air temperature is decidedly chilly.
It’s important that you surf somewhere safe and take instruction from the professionals. Find a local surf school, which will also hire wetsuits and longboards.
Search on-line for a surf school near you or your holiday destination.
6) Leaf peeping: An American import, leaf peeping is the activity of searching out great autumnal trees and views. October is the perfect time to visit beauty spots to admire the rich and vibrant colours of autumnal foliage.
7) Orienteering: Be prepared to get a little muddy as you run around a park, forest or open countryside in search of your next checkpoint. Orienteering can take the form of a short course in a country park or a competition for a range of ages and experiences.
The aim of orienteering is to navigate in sequence between control points marked on a unique orienteering map and decide the best route to complete the course in the quickest time. Orienteering exercises both the body and mind.
8) The Gruffalo’s Child Trail: Starting this month – and running to February – are the self-led walking trails located in 25 forests across England. There are also free Gruffalo autumn activity sheets that can be downloaded. See Forestry Gruffalo.
9) Enchanted forest: This activity is for Scottish families, unless you happen to be visiting Perthshire in your half-term break. The Enchanted Forest is an annual autumn treat in Faskally Wood, near Pitlochry.
Each year the forest is transformed in an unusual way with a sound and light show. Seeing is believing. Check out Enchanted Forest
10) Walk a long-distance trail: From the West Highland Way in Scotland to the Pembrokeshire Coastal Trail to the South West Coast Path, the UK boasts an amazing array of long-distance walking routes. You could choose a short section of one of these trails and enjoy a few hours of walking or go for longer and plan a trip that takes in overnights at campsites or B&Bs along the way.