Darker nights, colder mornings and no snow yet to liven things up… autumn doesn’t have the best rep. But the end of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of fun. There are still plenty of ways to get out and make the most of where you are, even if the weather isn’t on your side. Here’s a few:
Bike packing is where mountain biking meets lightweight camping: strapping all your gear onto your bike and venturing off the cycle paths. So much more ground can be covered than on foot, and staying overnight means you can go really off road and see much more than on a day trip. You’ll need a decent mountain or hybrid bike and a lightweight tent or micro shelter, but bothies are also a great option here as there is less to carry.
Of course there is the chance of bad weather later in the year, but equally the lack of midges and cooler temperatures are big advantages when cycling with lots of gear, making autumn ideal. Ideas for routes depend on your level of fitness and the length of trip, but Laurence McJannet, author of Bikepacking recommends The Isle of Mull in Scotland for a wild ride, Windermere in the Lake District for beginners and Sidmouth in Devon for a coastal ride. Just make sure you know the laws of wherever you’re camping, as some places encourage campers more than others.
If you’re an experienced mountain biker, try out the Capital Trail in Scotland, which starts and finishes in Portobello in Edinburgh. This is 150 miles, takes about 2 days with an overnight stop, which you can bothy, camp, or B&B if you get knackered.
The Cairngorms Loop #bikepacking route circumnavigates one of the most stunning areas in the Scottish Highlands, Cairngorms National Park. Dirt roads and singletracks climb valleys and twist their way back down through ancient Caledonian Forest. This route takes riders back to the roots of mountain biking and some sections will challenge even the experienced bikepacker. Check out this wonderful route guide and photo set contributed by Przemek Duszynski… link in profile.
Climbing and Hiking
We have some amazing autumn and winter mountaineering on our doorstep in the UK, with routes in the Highlands taking on a whole new dimension with the added snow and ice. This obviously requires much more planning and gear than summer, and best tackled with a lot of experience. If you’d rather a slightly less challenging climb, head to shorter, half day routes where the shorter daylight hours won’t be an issue.Try the Trossachs or Perthshire in Scotland, or the Catbells in the Lake District. If the weather really is miserable but you’re craving a climb, its the perfect time to get indoors and work on your bouldering!
In theory, Autumn is the best time for a UK surf trip. The water still holds the warmth of the summer months, but the increased offshore winds make the waves bigger than those in the summer. As you go north and the winter approaches the enjoyment of getting changed outside might decrease- but if it was all easy it would be boring! Think of that first cup of tea afterwards.
Cornwall and Devon are the best best for those down South, but there also are good waves to be found in Whitby in Yorkshire, South Wales, or Norfolk’s Cromer beach, only a few hours from London. Further afield, check out Rossnowlagh in Ireland or Thurso in the North of Scotland– but there are hundreds more if you look carefully enough!
If you have the right gear and know where you’re going, there’s no reason why camping can’t continue into the autumn. Again there are limitations to camping in England and Wales, but in Scotland, Dartmoor, some parts of Snowdonia and the Lake District you can pitch up within reason as long as you follow the rules. A road trip with a van in the autumn will also be far less stressful and cheaper in the autumn in the summer, as the tourists have packed up and the roads are quieter. If all goes to plan and the weather stays dry, you could be in for a treat and a night spent under the stars. If it doesn’t… you’ll still have the memories!
The colours from October onwards are enough to turn an average photo into something pretty awesome- the perfect excuse to drag others out with you who might not be so keen on challenging activities. Autumn is also a more appealing time of year to try to catch sunrises and sunsets, thanks to the shorter daylight hours. If you aren’t feeling like travelling too far but want to do something different, try getting up that extra few hours early and seeing the sunrise from where you live. Here are some of the best sunrises in the UK, as decided by the Guardian.
- Herefordshire Beacon, near Malvern, Worcestershire
- Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey
- Rannoch Moor, Scotland
Autumn can be the perfect time to get out running, as you’ll keep yourself warm enough and get a bit of a wake up call from the cold air when you set out. Interest in off road running is booming at the moment and it’s far more interesting than just pounding the pavement. If you’re lacking ideas on where to go, get an app like Strava or MapMyRun and you can see routes that other people have done near you, and try to beat their time.
Otherwise check out this top 10 wild running routes, which includes The Peak District, Suffolk and Snowdonia.
The most beautiful run in a very long time 💜 I've been playing in 5 hours, climbed 3 Munros, run 23km and total altitude meters are 1450 up and 1450 down. I am lost for words… this place… not only the mountains but also the people along the way. I feel so grateful and humble being able to do things like this… I'll never ever take this for granted 🙏🏻 #timetoplay #trailrunning #cairngorms #scottishhighlands #cairngorm #benmacdui #beinnmheadhoin #salomon_norge #salomon #suuntorun #suunto #autumnrunning #mountainrunning #mountains #løpeglede #stiløp #perfektdag #slab #training #trainingfortmbt #borneoultratrails @salomon_norge
So there you have it. Autumn definitely doesn’t have to mark the start of hibernation!
We have some fantastic landscapes and potential for adventure in the UK, and with a bit of planning and extra gear we can carry on making the most of them all year round.
If you’re still struggling to make the time even without the weather as an excuse, check out our post on Why we need to make more time for adventures for some interesting benefits to getting yourself off the couch and into the outdoors.