The best places for an autumn family holiday

October Half Term

Posted by Sam on 25th September 2019

Arriving at holiday cottage

When summer is clearly in the rear-view mirror, the lazy days of holidays become just distant memories and we’re fully in the throes of mornings of hasty breakfasts, shoe-hunting and hurrying out of the door with coats half on, into the crisper autumn air.

But as the August hordes disappear and green leaves take on russet and golden hues, it’s time to start digging the jumpers out the back of closets. The arrival of autumn can herald some of the most beautiful landscapes, so before the chaos of Christmas descends, it’s time to take a break from the hectic whirlwind of everyday life, slow the pace and escape to one of our fabulous properties for half term. With a little energy, a spoonful of patience and the desire to create memories they’ll remember forever, your little ones, your older ones and even your difficult-to-please ones can all find plenty to enjoy.

Read on to uncover some of our favourite places across the UK to find a break from routine, bend the rules and simply spend some time together this half term.

Skip to:

👉The West Country
👉The South Coast
👉The East
👉Wales
👉Heart of England
👉North of England
👉Scotland


The West Country

There’s nothing better than getting to the coast for your ocean fix, and in October the whole West Country experience feels just as magical, as well as being far less rushed and crowded.


Cornwall: best for blustery beach walks

In North Cornwall, you can find the best beaches for running on in the autumn sunshine … or drizzle … or wind – this is the UK after all. Crackington Haven is a great beach for building sandcastles or discovering hidden rock pool treasures and you’ll be protected from the elements by the surrounding tall cliffs.

Other great Cornish beaches:

  • Summerleaze Beach – wide and sandy with grassy dunes and the River Neet running by.
  • Lusty Glaze - includes a fantastic restaurant and adventure centre which sits behind the beach offering the chance to try new things and make new memories.
  • Porth Beach – a quiet cove, perfect for family time.

Discover our collection of Cornish coastal cottages and begin planning your next family getaway to the seaside. 

Cornish coastal cottages


Couples autumn walk

Devon: best for crunching through autumn leaves

But if autumn for you and your brood is epitomised by bundling up in scarves and taking long strolls through crunchy, leaf-lined woodland; collecting conkers or blowing the cobwebs away on windswept coastal walks, then Devon should be the break that beckons.

Dartmoor’s valleys, gorges and cascading waterfalls erupt into an explosion of colour in the autumn months, making it one of the most inspiring times to visit. Squeeze your former flip-flopped feet into wellies and spend a golden afternoon scuffing leaves, picking crimson fruits and jumping in puddles – a timely reminder from Mother Nature that the best things in life really are free.

Family around firepit

Why not don walking boots and explore the dramatic landscapes of Exmoor National Park? For a new, magical experience with your loved ones, witness this location in all its glory, on a clear evening as the sun drops behind the horizon and you can gaze up at the velvet blanket of darkness to limitless stars, planets and constellations. What’s more, the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival runs from 14th October to 3rd November 2019 and offers amazing events such as a full moon safari and night walk where you can count the stars and escape from the artificial glows which can dominate our lives.

Here are some other great autumnal locations to explore in Devon:

  • RHS Rosemoor – stunning gardens and outdoor play area near Torrington.
  • Haldon Forest Park – acres of woodland, picnic areas, activity trails and the chance to Go Ape.
  • Castle Drogo Gardens – fascinating history and a myriad of pretty pathways.

Then drift back to your holiday cottage to wrap chilly fingers around welcoming mugs of hot chocolate and gather around an open fire or wood burner, or even an outdoor firepit. This should be what holidays are about – doing something different.

Find cosy Devon cottages, perfect for your half-term break.

Family cottages in Devon


South Coast

The South Coast, meanwhile, offers all the flexibility you could need this half term providing the perfect backdrop for an autumn adventure. Traditional Victorian seaside towns which pepper the coast are the stuff childhood dreams are made of, and out of season – even when whipped by the wind – they are the perfect antidote to busy city life.

Here are some of our highlights:

  • Weymouth with its pretty harbour and wealth of things to do.
  • Botany Bay in Broadstairs which is ideal for fossil hunting and rock pooling.
  • Cowes on the Isle of Wight for sailing spectacles and nuggets of great history.

Family nature walk autumn

The New Forest: best for fairy-tale forests

If sand and shingle aren’t really your thing, head inland and enjoy the autumnal magnificence of the New Forest which turns into a scene from a fairy tale in autumn with the pink and purple hues of the heather and the floor littered with red-topped mushrooms. Get the kids to really engage with their surroundings. Send them on a silent hunt for the prettiest autumn leaves, encourage them to draw everything they can see, or they could even become leaf or tree detectives. Whatever you choose to do, revel in the freedom and choose one of our favourite places.

Three of our top places to visit in the New Forest:

  • Exbury Gardens – an autumnal delight for all of the senses.
  • The Ancient Woodlands – a unique and special place home to the mighty Kinightwood Oak.
  • Hawkhill Cycle Trail – close to beautiful Beaulieu and completely traffic-free.

Find a cosy family cottage in the New Forest to snuggle up in.

New Forest cottages


Bodiam Castle

Kent and Sussex: best for history and heritage

When you and the kids decide it’s time to collect some cultural moments, you can’t go wrong with Kent or Sussex. Bursting with national treasures, magnificent scenery and short distances between city, country and coastline, you can create your perfect half-term break. Visit the cathedrals and castles of Canterbury and Rochester, explore The Historic Dockyard at Chatham, head to Folkestone’s creative quarter or explore the ‘Garden of England’ and the country parks and nature reserves of Sussex under a canopy of autumn colours.

Other great places on the South Coast:

  • Leeds Castle – a fantastic family day out and including seasonal activities such as a Monster Academy, fireworks and markets.
  • Bodiam Castle – take a brilliant guided tour of this 14th-century medieval castle.
  • Rye Harbour National Nature Reserve – a Site of Special Scientific Interest and riot of wildlife!

Stay in a family-friendly find in Kent or a perfect property for all the family in Sussex.

Kent and Sussex cottages


The East

Should your half-term wanderlust draw you to the East of England, then you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to places to go and things to do to create those all-important family moments this October half term.


Skimming stones

Norfolk: best for wild and remote exploration 

The county of Norfolk offers beaches as a key draw; the vast skies, attractive stretches of sand and seaside towns full of character are so inviting – even in colder months. Some of the best places include Cromer, Hunstanton and Wells-next-the-Sea. You can fill your days with visits to historic towns, country houses and medieval castles on your trip.

The county is dominated by nature reserves and is an amazing place to walk, cycle and adventure:

  • At Holme-next-the-Sea the Norfolk Coast Path meets Peddars Way and the trail leads inland – one of the best ways to take in a beautiful pine forest and its flatness makes it perfect for little legs.
  • Older children can feel the adrenaline rush for hours in Weasenham Woods with ExTREEme Adventure – high ropes course including real tree climbing and assault courses because autumn is made for getting muddy.
  • Or if holidaying at a more measured pace and spending time on the water is what really floats your boat, quite literally, then pack a picnic and from Wroxham head off up the Norfolk Broads on a hired launch.

Norfolk cottages


Suffolk: best for a break filled with variety

In autumn, this area of England is packed with things to do and places to go. Have fun in zoos or enjoy the waterways of the Broads. Stop in picturesque towns and village throughout this delightful county, or stay by the sea and enjoy coastal excursions every day. 

Explore ancient heritage, incredible coastline and meet exotic animals during a family break to Suffolk:

  • Soak up local and national heritage at Sutton Hoo, where archaeologists uncovered two cemeteries dating all the way back to the 6th to 7th centuries. A wealth of incredible Anglo-Saxon artefacts can be seen here.
  • See incredible animals from rhinos to cheetahs at Africa Alive!, a zoological centre whose work revolves around the conservation of animals all over the world. You could even feed a giraffe or meet the lions with their animal experiences. 
  • Grab a breath of fresh sea air on a stroll to the end of Southwold Pier, a popular trip for the whole family, with a cafe, arcade and busy calendar of events.

Suffolk cottages


Wales

Swathes of rich colour drape over the valleys, vales and mountains of Wales in autumn, replacing the blues and greens with burnt ochre and fiery orange. If you haven’t yet experienced autumn in this beautiful country, then perhaps now is the time before the rush of the festive season. From the Welsh mountains to the spectacular coasts with the horizon pierced by dramatic cliffs and lone lighthouses, Wales is a beautiful land of epic experiences to be enjoyed by young and old alike.


Couple having pizza

Pembrokeshire: best for sandy walks and seal spotting

As well as the beaches of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire is where you can feel free running on the stretches of sand; discovering hidden gems in rock or immersed in the water. You might even spot some seal pups – go on a walk with the rangers during autumn’s seal pupping season.

Here are our favourite Pembrokeshire beaches:

  • Barafundle Bay – voted many times as one of the best beaches in Britain with pristine sands and waters. Accessed by a short walk from the car park.
  • Tenby North Beach – a fantastic beach which is sheltered from the wind and offering a wealth of facilities – a great place in autumn as dog restrictions are lifted and so the whole family can run wild.
  • Whitesands Bay – this beach is often awash with surfers and kayakers making it a great spectator beach if you don’t fancy a dip as the weather turns colder. Build sandcastles or take to the coast path for a family stroll.

After a day wrapped in scarves and faces bright from the salty air, why not return to one of our fantastic holiday properties in Pembrokeshire? Many have wood burners or open fires for extra cosiness.

Pembrokeshire cottages


Four Falls walk, Brecon Beacons

Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons: best for wild walks

Autumn is undoubtedly one of the best for wandering under golden canopies in woodland or watching nature’s show in a garden where berries glow crimson and trees and shrubs turn warm shades of amber. If you have children in tow, many locations offer extra autumn half term or Halloween events so even the difficult-to-please ones will be entertained.

Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons are such commanding places of beauty that they will draw you like a magnet and provide the most magnificent backdrop to any cherished family photo. The varied landscape offers endless opportunities for exploring the countryside on foot. 

Here are some of our favourite walks in these two beloved Welsh National Parks:

  • Sgwd yr Eira Waterfall, Brecon Beacons National Park – with a amazing backdrop any time of the year, autumn renders it a riot of colour and the woodland hides this beautiful curtain of water – the perfect setting for a family photo.
  • Cwm Idwal walk (3 miles) - a pretty easy way to access Snowdonia’s epic mountain scenery and glacial lake.  Older children may want to test themselves on the scramble up to Devil’s Kitchen.
  • Bodnant Garden, Colwyn Bay, North Wales – on the edge of Snowdonia, this garden includes some astounding ‘Champion Trees’, so called as they are the biggest and best of their kind in Britain. Children can collect autumn treasures to create collages, or if you’re lucky enough to be visiting in half term there is a range of activities to get involved in – or even create your own treasure trail to follow.

Find a cosy countryside cottage in Snowdonia or the Brecon Beacons, two national parks that would provide fantastic settings for your next exciting family getaway to Wales.

Family having breakfast

Another top destination to visit in Wales is Anglesey on the northern coast. Cross one of the bridges and escape to this beautiful island with its 125 miles of unspoilt coastlines and wonderful gardens. There are also many walking and cycling trails criss-crossing the island, many of which are suitable for four legs as well as little legs.

If you fancy a stroll through manicured greenery, we'd recommend a trip to the beautiful Colby Woodland GardenThis fantastic National Trust garden is crammed full of things to do. As well as the gardens, you can swing on ropes, scramble over trees, footbridges and logs. Or why not hunt for treasure with a geocaching kit? They even run a photography competition so you can take opportunities to get snapping and record moments forever. You can also get crafty in half term with the willow weaving workshop.

Girl on tree swing

Another scenic garden to visit - complete with classic Welsh castle within the grounds - is Powis Garden Castle. This medieval castle is simply spectacular, towering above the stunning gardens which are aglow with autumn. Take a moment to breathe in the scents of the season before heading to the Courtyard Restaurant, where in October you can enjoy a different flavoured scone every day. Between 28th and 31st October there’s also an exciting pumpkin trail for little ones (and not-so-little ones) to follow – collect all the clues to complete the trail, and best of all? It’s completely free!

There are endless opportunities to head out into Welsh landscapes and enjoy the freedom and flexibility which family holidays bring. Carefully chosen for their family-friendly features, each of our cottages in Wales offer something truly unique.

Family cottages in Wales


Heart of England

If a break to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is on your autumn wish-list, then the Heart of England is a great place to start. Visit the simply beautiful, cultural cities of Bath and Oxford which perch on the edge of the 800 square miles of the Cotswolds, famous for its gentle and lush countryside dotted with honey-hued, chocolate-box cottages. Or head to the rugged and hilly landscapes of the Peak District – a place for adventure and families with a passion for the active outdoors.


Family autumn walk

The Cotswolds: best for a truly British break

Discover everything that is quintessentially English. Roam beautiful castles in Warwickshire, stately homes and the market towns of Oxfordshire or get wonderfully (and deliberately) lost in the countryside before stumbling through the door of a wonderfully warm and cosy firelit pub or a charming tearoom.

We couldn’t possibly cover all of this vast area, but some of the best days out would include:

  • a trip to the Roman Baths in the city of Bath to uncover a little slice of history
  • an investigation of even more Roman wonders in Cirencester’s Corinium Museum. It houses a vast collection of mosaics where you can piece together some yourselves and play a variety of games.
  • Cotswold Water Park - comprising more than 150 lakes and 40 square miles, it’s perfect for walking and mountain biking whatever the season with an excellent network of paths and trails or try your hand at a variety of water sports.

Hot tub holiday

A trip to the Cotswolds also wouldn’t be complete without stopping by one of the UK’s most picturesque villages, Bourton-on-the-Water, which is possibly even more beautiful when draped in autumn’s latest designs. The kids are also spoilt for choice here with the model railway and village, and for the petrolheads in your family, big and small, there is the Cotswolds Motor Museum.

Escape to a holiday cottage in the Cotswolds for a break with all your closest family and friends. 

Family cottages in the Cotswolds


Derbyshire countryside

The Peaks: best for miles upon miles of open space

Head a little further north in the heart of England if you want your autumn adventures in the Peaks and surrounding counties. Aside from the wealth of family-friendly footpaths and cycle trails to explore, as well as the fascinating towns of Bakewell, there are a whole host of other activities which you can enjoy.

If you fancy some time underground, Derbyshire is well known for its caves which are great for little explorers fascinated by rock formations. The Castleton Caves include some of the best caverns with Treak Cliff Cavern or head to Poole’s Cavern in Buxton where you can journey beneath the earth to see a display millions of years in the making.

When you’re in the Peak District, we’d also recommend that you:

  • Pack a picnic (and your teddy) and head to Elvaston Casle Country Park with acres of open space for outdoor games.
  • Take a trip back in time at Crich Tramway Village, complete with a reconstructed village scene, sculpture trail and unlimited rides on the trams.
  • Have a roarsome time at Gulliver’s Kingdom where you’ll find the Lost World of Living Dinosaurs and a pirate play area, me hearties.

The White Cottage

Holidays are all about making memories too and include those obligatory family photographs (even if you do have to bribe your eldest to smile). It goes without saying that whilst on your travels, you’ll want to go to some of the most glorious spots to capture those special moments. The iconic Bridge of Love in Bakewell is a beautiful symbol of love with its plethora of padlocks fastened to the bridge for eternity. Or how about a waterfall or two as a backdrop to a family photo? Kinder Downfall and Lumsdale Falls are two of our favourites.

If this part of the UK has inspired you, then look at some of the fantastic properties in the Peak District that you could head back to as night falls.

Peak District cottages


North of England

What if you’re choosing the North of England for your autumn adventure? Stretching from Cumbria in the west and traversing across the Pennine hills to ‘God’s Own Country’, Yorkshire, to the stunning Lake District and taking in the beauty of Northumberland at Scotland’s feet – this is a region of huge opportunity.


Yorkshire: best for the scenery

Standing on a remote hillside in Swaledale, gazing across one of the most picturesque valleys in England, it’s not hard to see why Yorkshire really must be close to heaven. And with the transition to autumn, the later mornings with shrouds of mists across hill and dale as well as the rushing streams and water, the wild expanses of Yorkshire are a must-visit.

Our top spots include:

  • Thorp Perrow Arboretum with hundreds of gorgeous woodland walks, trails and adventure playgrounds to explore.
  • Aysgarth Falls are a sight to behold when jewelled autumn colours combine with cascading waters.

Also not to be missed are the ancient walls and medieval streets of York with its magnificent gothic Minster and huge array of eateries. For something a little different, take a cruise along the beautiful River Ouse, where you can even enjoy an afternoon tea or if you’d prefer a bit of mystery, experience the original Ghost Walk of York.


Foxglove Cottage, Scarborough

Your adventures may take you to even further northwards to Whitby where, continuing the theme of weird and wonderful, you can experience the ghoulish ruins of Whitby Abbey, examine the quite creepy curios exhibited in the museum or squeeze into the stone Wishing Chair to try and make your dreams come true.

When the day is done, retire to one of our cosy retreats in Yorkshire.  

Family-friendly Yorkshire


Lake District in autumn

The Lake District: best for countryside and castles

To the west is the ever-popular Lake District where, aside from walking, there are also water sports on the lakes themselves. When walking in autumn, the landscape is accentuated by the clarity of the light, the summer crowds have disappeared and you have the freedom of the land.

Some suggested walks:

  • Coniston Old Man – if your legs are up to it, climb the slopes of The Old Man which dominates the skyline above Coniston Water: the views are magical.
  • Cat Bells – this ‘proper little mountain’ involves a muddy scramble, but it’s well worth it with the views from the top.
  • Rydal and Grasmere – pure wondrous Wordsworth country, perfect for both two and four legs.
  • Castlerigg Stone Circle - Cumbria’s very own version of Stonehenge. Wrap up warm and take a stroll to Keswick to this tranquil spot, great for mini humans as it is just over 1.5 miles.

Wray Castle

Besides the scenic walking routes, the Lake District is also home to magnificent castles that have been build over the centuries in this landscape full of valleys and mountains, perfect for defensive tactics. 

Fabulous castles:

  • Lowther Castle or Wray Castle – ignite your children’s imagination with these iconic fairy tale castles where they can play knights and princesses (or cops and robbers…or ninjas) for hours. Wray Castle even includes a games room.
  • Muncaster Castle – if you feel like being a little spooked, take a trip to reputedly one of the most haunted castles in Britain; with a singing lady, children crying and a distinct chill in the air, only enter if you dare. For a bit more of a light-hearted visit, stick to outside where you’ll find a maze, trail and an adventure playground.
  • Brougham Castle and Carlisle Castle – both great castles to visit to absorb a bit of history. Carlisle bears the scars of many battles whilst Brougham is a labyrinth of fascinating ruins.

Head to a cottage hidden in the delightful Lake District and walk alongside marvellous bodies of water or step back in time with visits to the castles throughout the region. 

Family-friendly Lake District


Northumberland: best for stargazing

Climb further still up the eastern spine of England until you reach the staggering autumnal beauty of Northumberland, brimming with ancient castles, beautiful gardens, market towns and of course the Northumberland and Kielder National Parks as well as the superb Northumberland Coast AONB. 

Aside from all of the activities you would expect in a landscape so beautiful, why not create some new experiences?  The skies in this area are so deliciously dark, they have been awarded the highest accolade of Gold Tier Dark Sky Park. Once night has fallen, you can lay a blanket on the ground and enjoy a clear night sky filled with a billion stars and maybe wish upon one…

We’ve simply skimmed the surface of all of the treats awaiting you in the northern parts of our beautiful land – so indulge yourselves this autumn with one of our beautiful home-from-home properties in Northumberland.

Family-friendly Northumberland


Scotland

And finally, to Scotland – a place of epic wilderness, natural wonder and a country that should be visited at least once in every person’s lifetime. Experience the superb scenery, only magnified and rarefied by the autumn light.

Explore Northern Scotland and the Highlands complete with dramatic mountain ranges and unspoilt coastline. Venture to the Scottish Islands, where you would be forgiven for thinking that you’d walked onto the set of a fantastical movie. Or experience the vibrancy of Central and Southern Scotland with its two major cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, alongside the sheer, raw beauty of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Further south and you’re into the Scottish Borders where the scars of historic battles remain, coupled with gentle valleys and some of the best cycling you will find anywhere.

There is something truly ethereal about some destinations in Scotland and so this could be the ultimate destination for you to escape routine and slow the pace. Let us shine the spotlight on just a few of Scotland’s highlights.


Scotland in autumn

Southern Scotland – best for culture

  • Edinburgh Castle – spend an afternoon exploring this imposing 12th-century city fortress, finishing your tour up on the battlements where you can see the autumnal panorama stretching out before you as the autumn sun hangs low in the sky.
  • Floors Castle – take a child-friendly guided tour around this castle near Kelso, which is still a family home, or take the bikes to follow the cycle path. Plus, the woodland will be at its very best in autumn.

Loch Lomond

Central Scotland – best for autumn colours

  • The Hermitage – an enchanting piece of Perthshire forest filled with Douglas firs which dominate overhead. Paths lead to the River Braan and to the impressive Ossian’s Hall with spectacular view of the Black Linn Falls as they crash to the waters below. In autumn, you may be lucky enough to see salmon leaping as they head to spawning grounds.
  • Loch Lomond – while this loch is home to Scotland’s most southerly Munro (mountain over 3,000ft), Ben Lomond, those with little legs might prefer climbing Conic Hill. Spot buzzards on the leisurely 45-minute ascent and once at the summit, take in the burnished colours of landscape below.

The Caingorms

Northern Scotland – best for finding magic

  • The Enchanted Forest – within the Faskally Forest from the 3rd October to 3rd November you can see what is quite possibly one of the most captivating light and sound shows. This will make for quite a memorable evening.
  • Top movie locations – head to Eilean Donan Castle, a stunning castle which featured as the backdrop in The World is not Enough or hop aboard a Jacobite steam train with your wand and an owl at the ready. The train leaves from the foot of Ben Nevis and crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct made famous by the Harry Potter films. A must-do for magical mischief-makers.
  • The Cairngorms – beautiful no matter what the season, highlights include a visiting the RZSS Highland Wildlife Park which has a diversity of wildlife or why not get into the festive spirit a little early and check out the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre where the herd roam freely on the mountainside. Unforgettable.

Fairy Pools, Skye

Scottish Islands – best for spectacular scenery

  • Fingal’s Cave, Staffa – take a boat trip into this incredible hexagonal cave, which has been dubbed one of the most spectacular caves in the world. Once inside, listen to the eerie sound produced by the waves.
  • Fairy Pools, Skye – set off on a moderate trek and you’ll be rewarded with one of Skye’s most enchanting natural wonders: a series of waterfalls appear as if from nowhere and fill up the crystal-clear blue pools. Your little adventurers will love crossing the streams, rivers and stone bridges on the way.

Be inspired with our family-friendly cottages in Scotland, complete with warming tartan blankets and roaring wood burners.

Family-friendly Scotland


As night falls and the chill grows, there is nothing better than retiring to somewhere special with all your someone-specials in a great dog-friendly property so no-one in the family gets left behind. Or why not treat the whole family to a little bit of luxury in one of our cottages with a hot tub?

Scarves, long baths, steaming hot chocolate and open fires mixed with cosy tea rooms, steaming roasts in local pubs and nature’s fireworks in the form of a kaleidoscope of autumn colours is everything that an autumn addict could wish for.

We can’t promise that the sun will shine and the rain won’t fall for your visit, but whatever the weather, we do promise that our marvellous collections of family-friendly cottages across the length and breadth of the UK will provide everything you need for a memorable stay and a chance to collect some golden autumn moments.

Family-friendly cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.