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Autumn

Family walking by Chris J ParkerFamily walking by Chris J Parker

What to do in autumn

Autumn in the North York Moors officially starts in September and runs through to November. The cooler months of September and October are often perfect for walking and cycling while early morning mists and cloud inversions in the dales as the sun rises, are a photographers' dream.

Late-summer, going into autumn, starts with the flowering of the heather as the moorland erupts into a purple haze as far as the eye can see. By the coast we spend lazy, late-summer days on the beach, with an occasional storm to remind us of the power of the elements. The annual Staithes Festival of Arts & Heritage celebrates the village's fishing and arts heritage, bringing pop up art, culture and tearooms to this picturesque coastal location every September.

You’ll also catch the last few traditional village and agricultural shows during September, and then it’s just a matter of waiting for the trees to explode into autumn’s auburn colours, nature’s last roar before the onset of wintry November.

Find out what wildlife is around at this time of year with our nature calendar, full of tips, seasonal walks and ideas on the best places to spot birds, animals and wildflowers.

Autumn is harvest time too, drink Ampleforth and Husthwaite cider following the first apple pressings, and taste some of the game coming off the Moors at many of our great pubs and restaurants.

Top 5 autumn experiences

1. Woodland walks

Woodlands are wonderful year round, but take a walk now and you'll be rewarded with the vibrant colours of red, orange, mahogany, mustard and gold, and a multitude of fading greens, as well as impressive fungi clinging to standing and fallen deadwood. Our nature calendar has more woodland walk ideas. All things wood are celebrated at the annual Guisborough Forest Festival (every September) too, with a brilliant cast of talented artists, musicians, wildlife experts, birds of prey and traditional craftspeople such as coracle demonstrations.

2. Fungi and foraging forays

Autumn means fungi and if you'd like to find out which ones are edible, get yourself booked onto a fungi foray. The Yorkshire Arboretum runs a couple of fungi forays showing you how to identify common and not so common species or join Tees Valley Wildlife Trust at Flatts Lane Woodland Country Park for their session. Chris Bax from Taste the Wild is in his element at this time of the year, running a number of very popular foraging courses; book up quick! 

3. Railway in Wartime (13-15 October 2017)

Step back in time to 1943 for one of Yorkshire's most popular events, a nostalgic commemoration of the contribution of railway workers during WWII with street parades, vehicle displays and re-enactments along the line at Grosmont, Goathland and Levisham. Rub shoulders with the British soldiers and American GIs, and travel on the steam train to the German occupied French village of Le Visham (as Levisham is known for this weekend).

4. Whale watching and porpoise spotting

In the autumn, whales move south along the east coast of Yorkshire, following the shoals of mackerel and herring. Late August through to early November is the best time to look for them, and regular whale watching cruises run from Whitby with Whitby Whale Watching or from Staithes on Real Staithes’ traditional fishing boat ‘All My Sons’ with Yorkshire Coast Nature. Along with harbour porpoises and white-beaked dolphins, minke whales are spotted regularly, but sei, fin and even large humpback whales have been seen in recent years too.

5. Halloween happenings and gothic gatherings

Atmospherically perched on Whitby’s clifftop, Whitby Abbey and St Mary's Church graveyard, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, are now the centrepiece and spiritual home of the biannual Whitby Goth Weekend. Gregarious goths from tiny tots to old-timers celebrate gothic fashion, taking inspiration from grand Victorian styles, and are warmly welcomed by the town for a long weekend of dancing, shopping, music and general merriment.

Autumn’s gathering is centred around Halloween naturally and you’ll find ghost and Dracula inspired walks aplenty in Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay too.