Things 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.

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 winter.

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 moorland at many of our great pubs and restaurants.

Top five autumn experiences

1. Woodland walks

Woodland walk credit Dependable Productions

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. Check out our walks.

2. Fungi and foraging forays

Fly agaric Credit Tom Mutton

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 who often run sessions; book up quick!

3. Whale watching and porpoise spotting

Whale Watching Credit Whitby Whale Watching

In the autumn, whales move south along Yorkshire's coastline, following the shoals of mackerel and herring. Late August through to early November is the best time to look for them. Whale watching cruises run from Staithes on Real Staithes’ traditional fishing boat ‘All My Sons’ with Yorkshire Coast Nature or Three Sisters Sea Trips. 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.

4. Halloween happenings and gothic gatherings

Whitby Abbey (c) Discover Yorkshire Coast

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.

5. Explore our dark skies

Child stargazing Credit Polly A Baldwin

Come October the skies are awash with stars. The North York Moors is a designated International Dark Sky Reserve, one of only 21 in the world, which means we're officially one of the best places in the country to see stars, because of the low light pollution levels and clear horizons. You can celebrate are starry skies during the Dark Skies Fringe Festival during October half term (27 October - 5 November 2023) for a week of stargazing, night experiences and all sorts of dark skies-related fun! Keep an eye out for the programme as we get closer to the time.

Find out more about our dark skies and where and what to see.

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