So long summer! 15 of the very best ideas for autumn UK breaks for 2023

Posted on 28th Aug 2023. In , , ,

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You may think that New England has the monopoly on autumn greatness, thanks to its legendary show-stopping foliage, but it doesn’t. Good old Blighty has many bright and beautiful destinations, experiences and places to stay that you’ll fall for in an instant – ideal for quick and affordable UK autumn breaks.

Red stags rutting in the Devon, carnivals bursting to life, Cornwall beaches quieting to a hush – they’re just some of the treats that await you as you steal away for a long weekend this September, October or November with the ones you love. 

Best of all, now that summer has gone into hibernation, you can count on quieter locations and more affordable prices – and you can steal away for an adults’ only weekend (deserved after a summer as mummy and daddy daycare) and spend all day steaming in a hot tub without getting a funny look.

So, whether you’re after an autumn costal staycation or a getaway in the mountains, thumb your nose at New England. Because here are 14 colourful autumn short break ideas that prove the UK does autumn brilliantly.


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Autumn UK break No 1

Discover York’s Ghostly Secrets

Do this: York’s medieval streets are encircled by 13th-century walls. Follow the ancient circuit – 3.4 kilometres – and see the city’s most enduring treasures from a new angle. The entire route takes around 2 hours to walk, and on the way you’ll pass five main bars or gateways, one Victorian gateway, one postern (a small gateway) and 45 towers.

See this: Make your way to The Treasurer’s House – it is one of York’s most haunted spots. Join the free cellar tour and sink into the underbelly of the building, the setting for one of the most famous ghost sightings of all time: Roman soldiers who were seen in the cellar by plumber, Harry Martindale, in 1953.

Eat at: The York Cocoa House is an unexpected and enchanting pit stop. Order from the extensive chocolate menu, both savoury and sweet dishes and drinks are on offer. Try this: Uncover the wicked history of York as you explore the secrets of the Shambles on a witchcraft-themed walking tour.

Stay here: Cosy up in a log cabin at the super quirky Acorn Glamping just outside of York. This storybook site comes with its own menagerie of animals, including Sydney of Melbourne the wallaby and Hobnob the alpaca. The city has some lovely romantic York hotels, take your pick.

Browse more places to stay in York. 

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Autumn UK break No 2

Watch stags rutting on Exmoor

Red stag safari exmoor - stag at sunset

 

The beautiful village of Dunster is one of the best-preserved medieval villages in England, set in the rolling hills of Exmoor. And the perfect base for exploring Exmoor.

Do this: Watch one of nature’s greatest spectacles: the dramatic rutting of Exmoor’s red deer. Partner with the expert guidance of Red Stag Safaris to be sure to locate the stags.

See this: Dunster Castle, once the home of the Luttrell family, is now owned by the National Trust. Expect impressive interiors, lavish Victorian decoration and beautiful gardens.

Walk this: Go through Dunster village centre away from Minehead, keep left and you will come to Gallox’s bridge. Beyond the bridge is as an expanse of paths and space for walking and exploring through the Crown Estate. Keep left to find yourself in the Deer Park, where you can climb to the top of the hill for stunning views across the Castle and sea beyond.

Stay here: The Luttrell Arms, at the heart of the village. When Dunster village was a sea-port, sometime in the 12th-century, the Luttrell Arms was known as the Ship Inn. In those days, the sea lapped its weathered doors and its arms provided comfort for sailors. Today, fits into the modern world perfectly with 28 lovely rooms and an a wonderful la carte restaurant, Psalter’s Restaurant. If you’d like a unique glamping experience minutes from Exmoor, stay in a luxury tipi at Harta Retreats, 

Browse more places to stay in Devon

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Autumn UK break No 3

Go Leaf Peeping in The Wye Valley

symonds yat rock view over river wye

Threading the border between England and Wales, like a green stitch holding the two countries together, is the The Wye Valley, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Autumn is the perfect time to visit as its native woodlands become a beautiful patchwork of oranges and reds.

Go here: Head to Eagle’s Nest viewpoint built in 1828 for the Duke of Beaufort. From here you get breathtaking views across the lower Wye Valley, the rivers Wye and Severn, Chepstow, the Severn Bridges and the Cotswolds hills in the distance. Find it at the top of a steep, wooded limestone cliff and along the national trail the Wye Valley Walk.

Visit this: Tintern Abbey is a 12th-century Gothic architectural icon that draws thousands of visitors every year. It’s a national treasure, standing lofty and silent on the banks of the Wye Valley.

Try this: Wine-tasting at Parva Vineyard in Tintern where you wander the 4,500 vines on your own self- guided tour then head indoors to taste the farm’s award-winning red, white and sparkling wines.

Eat here: Dine at the Whitebrook – a Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms. Book the 7-course tasting menu with wine pairing – it’s a superb experience.

Stay here: Nest amongst the birds in a luxury treehouse: The Hudnall’s Hideout, cwtch up in a dog-friendly cabin at The Roost, or stay snug in this Wye Valley holiday cottage. 

Browse more places to stay in The Wye Valley


 

Autumn UK break No 4

Catch the Northern Lights in Kielder Water

northern lights in northumberland - autumn uk break

For unpolluted skies and uninterrupted views of the galaxy, make your way to Kielder Water in Northumberland (Europe’s largest dark sky park) for an out of this world autumn mini getaway. It is here that you find one of the best observatories in England – the Kielder Observatory – and some of the darkest skies in the country.

Do this: The observatory runs many star-gazing nights, including their highly popular Aurora Night, from September – November. If you’re not lucky enough to bag a spot, there are plenty more star-studded evening events to chose from: Saturn and the Moon; A Universe Full of Stars; Full Moon Party; Night Sky Safari.

Try this: Kielder Water itself lies within the great wilderness of Northumberland National Park, which stretches from Hadrian’s Wall to the Cheviot Hills. During the day explore Kielder’s 27-mile art trail around the lake or, for more high-octane thrills, try the 150-m zip wire!

Visit this: Alongside its beautiful must-see romantic castles and it’s warm and welcoming pubs, Northumberland is home to more than 30 miles of the most beautiful beaches in the British Isles – almost all of them are dog-friendly. Pick one – our favourite Northumberland beach is in Bamburgh – and waste hours wandering by the shore.

Stay here: Battlesteads Hotel – only a short drive from Kielder Water. Alternatively, head a little further out of Kielder and choose this colourful cottage in Morpeth as your base. Or, for a real adventure, explore Northumberland in your own Defender with a roof-top tent.

Browse more places to stay in Northumberland


 

Autumn UK break No 5

Sip & savour a cider Somerset safari

cider tasting in somerset autumn uk break

Take yourself to Somerset this October holiday for a traditional UK autumn mini break that sparkles with the taste of cider discovery.

Do this: Head to the Cider Brandy Company and Burrow Hill Cider, where Burrow Hill Farm’s owners have over 50 years’ experience of making cider. Wander the rows of apples in the orchards following the trail, then make your way to the cider brandy distillery where copper sills whir protected by armour-plated glass and 68 locks and seals.

Afterwards, head to the farm shop where you can sample the different ciders and cider brandies amongst the cider-making paraphernalia: oak vats, barrels and presses. Don’t forget to call a taxi to get you back to your mini-weekend base.

Try this: For a cider adventure on two wheels, with cheese thrown in, book a guide e-bike Cheese and Cider Safari with Bruton Bike Hire. It’s a fun 2.5hr adventure in which you’ll cover 22 miles and spend a lot of it drinking and eating. Lunch/tours/ tastings and bike hire included in price.

Go here: Somerset’s prettiest market town in Castle Cary is home to a regular Tuesday market. Here you’ll find 60 varieties of West Country-sourced fish, greengrocery and eggs, artisan bread, rolls and scones, homemade jams and chutneys, cheese and home-baked pies and savouries. Just what you need after all that cider!

Stay here: Hadspen Glamping, open until October, is a private 5-acre glamping site where you’ll find 3 eco-luxe khaki lodges: Lime Kiln Lodge (sleeping up to 5 and with a hot tub), Grisway Lodge (sleeping up to 7) and Horsecombe Lodge (sleeping up to 4). Great for weekenders who like to be close to nature.

Browse more places to stay in Somerset


 

Autumn UK break No 6

Explore Dracula’s Coast in Whitby

whitby abbey and beach

 

Ever since Bram Stoker’s Dracula came ashore at Whitby on a stormy night, the Yorkshire fishing town has been a magnet for fans of all things gothic. In October each year the town plays hots to the Whitby Goth Weekend where the bunched-up medieval streets fill with mystery and wonder.

Visit this: Walk the 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey. Dracula, in the guise of a black demon hound, ran up the steps when he arrived in Whitby to hide in the Abbey’s cloak of darkness.

Do this: For those interested in Dracula, take a trip with Dr Crank. His walk ‘In Search of Dracula’ will take you to the places featured in the novel and give you insights into the town and the author Bram Stoker.

Eat this: Whitby is famed for its seafood and, in particular, its scampi. We love the Magpie Cafe – it’s renowned for its seafood which is prepared and delivered directly from the boat to the table within 24 hours.

Stay here: The 17th- century East Cliff coaching inn, The White Horse and Griffin, is one of the town’s most iconic properties. It has played host to the likes of Charles Dickens and Captain James Cook, who recruited his crew members here. Choose from ten cosy rooms and suites full of original features. From £273pn.


 

Autumn UK break No 7

Feast on Books in Hay-on-Wye

hay on wye - autumn uk weekend

Do this: Hay on Wye is a quiet Welsh market town at the edge of the Brecon Beacons which every year plays host to one of the most famous book festivals in the world: The Hay on Wye Festival of Arts and Literature (at the end of May – June)

Go here: Mooch your way into Hay town where you’ll find two-dozen second-hand bookshops to sex your brain cells, along with a scattering of independently-owned eateries and soul-pleasing boutiques. Our favourite bookshop? Murder and Mayhem on Lion Street.

Eat here: Head to The Old Electric Shop on Broad Street where antique furniture tangos with thoughtfully-sourced vegetarian food playing out to a funky vibe.

Drink here: The Hay-on-Wye Distillery in the town is a must. We’ve been twice now and left with a bottle of their gin, every time. Try the Flammin’ Lady cocktail – you won’t regret it!

Stay here: Roost in the treetops at By The Wye – a glampsite right by the might Wye River. There are 5 luxury safari tents to choose from. All sleep up to 5 and have comfy beds, plump sofas, log burners, running water, flushing toilets, eco-friendly toiletries, covered decks, and fully-equipped kitchens.

Browse more places to stay in Hay-on-Wye


 

Autumn UK break No 8

Cosy up in Quieter Cornwall

romantic getaway Cornwall - fallen angel - mousehole harbour

Pronounced Mouzle, Mousehole is a clutch of fishing-pot cottages and shops that cluster around a small harbour. Best of all, you virtually have the place to yourself out of season.

Do this: Stroll around the small harbour, watching the fishing boats bob gentle up and down. Go in mid- Dec and see the Xmas lights switched on – they’re famous throughout Cornwall.

Go here: Catch a play at the stunning Minack Theatre – an outdoor theatre carved into the granite of a Cornish cliff, overlooking beautiful Porthcurno Bay, and surrounded by subtropical gardens.

Eat here: The Old Coastguard – a Victorian maritime inn serving lunches and evening meals, with an outside terrace with the views of the sea. Or, if you’re in Mousehole around Christmas time eat at The Ship Inn on the 23rd December and try the famous Stargazy Pie. Legend has it that a 16th-century Mousehole local sailed out in stormy weather one night and came back with a boat of pilchards. His catch was made into a pie, which is now called Stargazy Pie.

Stay here: The Fallen Angel is an exceptional boutique hideout overlooking Mousehole. Made just for two, it’s ultra-modern inside and out, and has the best bath tub ever.

Browse more places to stay in Cornwall


 

Autumn UK break No 9

Follow in the Brontës footsteps in Yorkshire

moors near hebden bridge west yorkshire

Haworth is a neat little village with cobbled streets that tumble downhill onto the West Yorkshire moors. It’s most famous for being the home of the Brontë sisters.

Visit this: The Brontë Parsonage, where the Brontë sisters lived and wrote. It’s a fine Georgian house which is now an excellent and immersive museum.

Do this: Head off onto the moors in the direction of Top Withins – the supposed inspiration for Wuthering Heights.

Eat at: Cobbles & Clay a cafe and pottery painting studio at the top of Haworth main street. It’s open all day every day, with free wifi, baby changing facilities, and great coffee. Expect homemade delicious food as well as tasty afternoon teas.

Drink this: Swing by the Haworth Steam Brewery – one of the smallest independent micro breweries in the country – for a Haworth Gin.

Stay here: Daisy Bank Camp, homely dog-friendly timber cabins set in the moors above Hebden Bridge, 30 mins from Haworth. You’ve moorland walking and cycling trails on your doorstep and the wildlife here is fantastic: curlews, kestrels and tawny owls are regular visitors. Open all year. From £80pn.


 

Autumn UK break No 10

Chase Alice in Wonderland, Oxford

autumn uk breaks - oxford

 

Charles Lutwidge Dodgeson (aka: Lewis Carroll), was a maths lecturer in Oxford 150 years ago. It was here that he met a little girl called Alice Liddell and the rest is history.

Go here:Head to Christ Church College Meadows in Oxford. It’s easily the city’s grandest college on St Aldate’s Street. It was also Lewis Carroll’s stomping ground, where he met his 6- year-old muse, Alice Liddell. The Deanery Garden is where Alice played and a small wooden door in its protective wall was, it’s claimed, the door to Wonderland. For a more in-depth look at Oxford’s Colleges, we like this University walking tour with a University alumni.

Do this: Take an afternoon tea cruise along the River Thames from Folly Bridge. It travels down the University Regatta course, turning for home at Rose Island, a favourite destination of Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell on their river journeys.

Eat here: The Eagle and Child is one of Oxford’s most famous pubs. Grab a bite to eat in this pint-sized establishment where Lewis Carroll, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis used to enjoy a pint. To get more insights into Oxford’s famous ‘Inkling’s’ group, book onto this private writer’s tour.

Stay here: If you want to stay in the city, head to the Malmaison in Oxford’s Castle Quarter. Once a prison, it’s now one of the trendiest places to stay in the city. Alternatively, stay just outside of Oxford in the Royal Oak in Ramsden, a 17th-century village pub with fabulous food and sublime rooms.

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Autumn UK break No 11

Go dinosaur hunting in Lyme Regis, Dorset

Main sandy beach in Lyme Regis - Front Beach, Marine parade

The breath-taking Jurassic Coast offers autumn weekenders 185 million years’ worth of geological history and ancient treasures to uncover. It’s a remarkable stretch of the UK, rolling on for 95 glorious miles and boasting many beautiful beaches. And one of its honeypot towns is lovely Lyme Regis with plenty of things to do for you Dorset staycation.

Go here: Mary Anning is Lyme’s much-lauded 19th-century palaeontologist whose ichthyosaur and plesiosaur finds brought her much acclaim. The Lyme Regis Museum celebrates her life and findings with exceptional exhibits, as well as marking the town’s connection to notable authors, including John Fowles, Henry Fielding, Jane Austen and Beatrix Potter.

Do this: Take a fossil walk with Jurassic Coast experts from Lyme Regis museum. Explore one of Lyme’s four beaches, collect your own fossils and learn about the geology of this amazing stretch of England.

Eat here: The Millside is a real foody gem, tucked away beside the quaint Town Mill in the creative heart of Lyme Regis. Expect some of Lyme’s freshest seafood on the menu, much of which is served with a twist to make each dish unique. To wash you meal down, the Millside restaurant offers local craft ales and beers (from Lyme Brewery, which is just across the street) and wines from Lyme Lyme Bay Winery, as well as delicious local spirits. Of course, there are many more great restaurants in Lyme Regis to try if you’re in the town for longer than a weekend.

Stay here: Coombe Street Cottage is a dog-friendly escape for four in Lyme’s Old Town and no more than a beachball bounce from Lyme’s beaches. From £110pn.

More Epic Experiences on the Jurassic Coast


 

Autumn UK break No 12

Road-tripping on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

isle of skye - old man of Storr - autumn uk break

Towering mountains, dramatic moorland, staggering wildlife – it can only be the Isle of Skye off the West coast of Scotland. This place has to be on your autumn weekend bucketlist. One of the best ways to experience this beautifully elemental place, is on a road-trip.

Do this: See the highlights of Skye in one day with this small-group driving tour. You’ll take in the island’s rugged scenery at locations like Kilt Rock, the Fairy Glen, and the Quiraing, and admire storied castles. As you go, learn all about Skye’s history from your guide.

Try this: Alternatively, create your own tour starting your autumn mini weekend away in Portree – the main harbour town on the Isle of Skye. From here, take the A87 through the Cuillins mountains, a twin mountain range that bisect the island at midpoint.

Head onwards to join the Wester Ross coastal route and the spectacular unspoilt scenery that accompanies you for some 20 miles. Turn then for Bealach na Bà – the Pass of the Cattle (check it’s open before you so). You’ll rise to 2053ft before plunging back down to Applecross Bay. Stay on this road until you reach Applecross, a sweet strip of houses hugging the seafront.

Book this: Skye is home to some stupendous wildlife, invluding Golden Eagles and Whales. We recommend adding a wildlife experience onto your Skye autumn holiday. Isle of Syke Seafari Experience offer a number of different wildlife tours you can do. So park you car and book in.

Go here: Swing by the Applecross Inn and order an Isle of Skye Gin and congratulate yourself on a successful trip. Middle Earth, done.

Browse places to stay on the Isle of Skye


 

Autumn UK break No 13

Trek with llamas in the Surrey Hills

the-merry-harriers-pub-hambledon-surrey meeting the llamas

Set in the peaceful Surrey village of Hambledon, where the main traffic seems to be clip-clopping horses, The Merry Harriers pub is a 16th- century red-brick inn filled with real ale, good food, friendly chit-chat and, curiously, llamas out the back.

Do this: Llamas are one of the pub’s most famous long-term residents. Head to the back of the Inn and you’ll meet them: there are 12 in total and they’re all friendly, especially if you come with treats. We recommend the llama trek. It’s is a brilliantly fun way to spend a morning or afternoon, which you can either book separately or enjoy as part of the pub’s signature Llama Love Experience (includes a DB&B stay, plus a picnic on your trek.

Try this: Next to the Merry Harriers you’ll find The Village Spirit Collective – a gin distillery making gins based on flavours loved by the people in the local communities (or ‘Ginfluencers’ as they’re called). Try the blend your own ‘Ginfluencer’ experience, starting from £15.

Stay here: The pub’s five large Shepherd Huts are a great spot for those who want to feel separate from the main Inn. Find them to the front of the pub in a pretty tree-filled meadow, beside a glassy pond with views to the horse-studded Surrey hills beyond. Sleeping 2, from £130pn.

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Autumn UK break No 14

Hibernate an an incredible Welsh spa

dylan coastal resort - milk wood spa swimming pool

The Dylan Coastal Resort sits is a state-of-the-art resort strategically built on the hillside overlooking the Taf Estuary in West Wales, in the wonderful village of Laugharne and near equally-lovely Llansteffan.

Do this: The Resort’s incredible Milk Wood Spa comes with jaw-dropping views over the ebb and flow of the estuary. Give yourself the morning or afternoon flowing between pool, steam room, sauna and outdoor hydrotherapy pool – maybe after booking a treatment. You’ll easily lose hours here mesmerised at the beauty of it all.

Visit this: The author and poet, Dylan Thomas, lived and worked in Laugharne (on and off) between 1938 and 1949. A few minute’s walk from the Resort is the poet’s former home, The Boathouse. Inside it’s sort of living museum with some of the rooms are mocked-up to appear as they would’ve when the family lived there.

See this: Take a stroll from The Boathouse to Thomas’s Writing Shed. It’s here he penned two of his most famous works: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night and Under Milk Wood.

Drink here: It was in the bay window of Brown’s Hotel in Laugharne where Thomas guzzled pints of Buckley’s and gossiped, so pay it a visit.

Stay here: The luxury lodges at the Dylan Coastal Resort all come with incredible views. Some also come with hot tubs. Sleeping up to 6.


 

Autumn UK break No 15

Learn to surf in Snowdonia, Wales

A former Welsh aluminium-smelting works in Dolgarrog is today Adventure Parc Snowdonia: an indoor and outdoor venue of adrenaline experiences.

Do this: Surfer or not, everyone can enjoy the world-first 300-metre surf lagoon at Adventure Parc Snowdonia. Book in for surf lessons or a surf session at the surf academy, known simply as The Academy. Should you need to, you can hire wetsuits and boards – or you can bring your own. As well as surf lessons, flat-water stand-up paddleboard (sup) sessions are also available.

Try this: Next to the Surf Snowdonia lagoon is an indoor adventure experience: Adrenaline Indoors. It houses a huge range of brilliant activities and challenges, including an aerial assault course, artificial caving course, a parkour trail, climbing walls, freefall jumps, a soft-play area for younger kids, plus the only zip-line on the planet that flies you directly over the heads of surfers.

Stay here: You’ve two options at Adventure Parc Snowdonia. You can stay at the Hilton Garden Hotel on the shorelines of our Surf Snowdonia lagoon (where you’ll also find a spa). Or you can stay in the Parc’s comfortable wooden camping pods for a more ‘back to nature experience.

Browse more places to stay in Snowdonia


 

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