Hello October: What to see and do in the countryside this month
“Listen! The wind is rising and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!” - Humbert Wolfe
October really heralds the start of Autumn. It’s also our favourite month here at Garnet PR.
The trees begin to change into their best colourful dresses ready for one last hurrah before their winter slumber. The stars twinkle a little earlier and brighter in the darker nights, and the scent of woodsmoke becomes commonplace drifting across the evening air.
Promises of Halloween fun, cosy weekends in front of the fire, chunky knits and wrapped up Sunday walks are never far away. The pathway to winter burns bright and welcoming in all its beauty, a gentle meander into the colder season to come.
In the natural world, many see October as a changeover month. The vast majority of visiting summer birds have migrated south to the warmth of Africa, and winter birds from Europe will soon be on their way to our shores.
They flock in to enjoy the abundance of ripe fruit and nuts the countryside offers at this time of year, arriving just in time for their hedgerow buffet and feasting furiously ahead of the colder, sparser months ahead.
If birds are your thing, some of the first to arrive are beautiful redwings that can often be heard on cold clear still nights in the country, calling as they fly in overhead. If you are lucky enough to live in a rural location, wander outside, take a few minutes to look up at the night sky and listen out for the high pitched whistles of these fabulous birds announcing their arrival. The other thrush to look out for at this time of year is the larger but equally lovely fieldfare, that arrives along with the redwings.
Coastal areas are always high on bird watchers agendas and autumn is a great time for a visit to the north Norfolk coast with its many and varied nature reserves along its coastline. Or you could head to the north of Scotland to see seal pups, pupping season spreads down the east coast of England through October and November and is a lovely sight to see, so if you don’t fancy heading that far north you can wait for them to come a bit closer!
Conkers adorn the trees and often the ground in early October, shining tantalisingly, almost calling you to gather them and relive childhood fun with a conker fight. But did you know, they are considered to have an incredibly useful purpose according to an old wives’ tale, that many will welcome with open arms at this time of year?
If you keep them dotted around the house they are thought to repel spiders, which are also starting to make their presence known more frequently as we head into autumn. There’s no scientific evidence to support this, but I know a few people who certainly sleep a little easier with conkers in their houses at this time of year!
Eat the seasons
Key ingredients: Apples, root vegetables and hazelnuts (if you can beat the squirrels to them!).
October marks the return of hearty dinners, leisurely Sunday roasts and the last chance to forage in the hedgerows. Sloes are also almost ready, but be sure to wait until after the first frost to start gathering.
Wild foraging is one of life’s great pleasures and a real joy of slow-living. Gather your friends and family, throw something tasty in the slow cooker, turn off your phone and head out for a few hours wandering the country lanes. Don’t forget to thank Mother Nature for her gifts of abundance, and never take more than you need, the local wildlife will thank you for it.
Dates for your diary
Whether you’re looking to celebrate them, use them in your social strategy, or just find something fun to do, here are some of the dates we love in October.
4th - World Animal Day
A day for us to celebrate our animals, which often feature prominently in country life. If you’re inclined, you could raise money and awareness for animals around the world perhaps not as fortunate or loved as our own.
13th - World Conker Championships, Northamptonshire
Tucked away in a quiet, picturesque corner of the Northamptonshire countryside, every year thousands of visitors descend to attend the annual World Conker Championships. It’s a wonderful day out which has taken place since 1965 and raises money for charities that support the visually impaired. If you haven’t been I fully recommend giving it a go, you’ll have such fun! You can read all about the fascinating history of the Championships and find out more details about the event here: https://www.worldconkerchampionships.com/
16th - 31st - Spooky Tours at Burghley House, Lincolnshire
One of our favourite stately homes and estates in England, Burghley’s sell-out spooky tours are back again. It’s easy to imagine spooky goings-on and bumps in the night when you visit this grand, old house in beautiful Stamford, Lincolnshire, just don’t wander off… https://www.burghley.co.uk/events/spooky-tours/
19th & 20th - Countryside Live, Yorkshire
A fun day out for all the family focused on the countryside, farm life and lots of interactive activities. Head to https://countrysidelive.co.uk/ to book tickets.
27th - Clocks go back, British Wintertime begins
It gets darker earlier and the countryside prepares for her winter rest. Most of our digital devices will change themselves but don’t forget if you have a winding clock to change it!
31st - Halloween/ Samhain.
A chance for children to have lots of fun playing dress-up and enjoying the merriment which comes with this annual diary date, but also a very important Pagan festival. Samhain is the Pagan version of New Year's Eve, marking the end of the harvest and preparation for the shorter, winter days.
There are lots of Halloween and Samhain festivals and events up and down the country, so whether you like the more modern fun and games, or the traditional, nature-led celebrations, there’s something for everyone. I’ll be doing a full post on Samhain later this month so please do come back to find out more if you feel connected to a nature-inspired wheel of the year.
This is a new blog for us and I’d love to know your thoughts. Do you have any favourite October traditions, diary dates or seasonal recipes? Head over to my Instagram and tell me all about them.
May your October be filled with wild adventures, success, and more than a hint of magic...
Big thanks to my lovely Dad, Tony Bates, for his help with this blog, for connecting me with nature before I could walk and coming on many, many Halloween and wildlife adventures with me over the years.