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.
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.
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 who often run sessions. Trailblazer Wildcraft are in their element at this time of the year running foraging courses; book up quick!
3. Railway in Wartime (2021 Cancelled due to covid, set to return October 2022)
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. Rub shoulders with the British soldiers and American GIs, and see the street parades, vehicle displays and re-enactments along the line at Grosmont, Goathland and Levisham.
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. 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.
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.
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