24 Norfolk events to make the most out of Autumn


- Credit: Archant

There maybe a chill in the air but autumn is among the best times to explore our great woods and beautiful forests as they become a glorious patchwork of colour. SIMON PARKIN highlights some of the best to visit and events to get the best of nature in autumn.

• Foxley Wood

Off the A1067 Norwich to Fakenham Rood, 10 miles south east of Fakenham, norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

Open: 10am-5pm (except Thurs)

Admission: Dawn to dusk, no dogs Norfolk's largest remaining ancient woodland. In autumn there's an awe-inspiring feel to the sheer silence of the woods, broken only by birdsong and the wind in the trees.

• Sandringham Park

Sandringham, 01553 612908, www.sandringhamestate.co.uk

Open: 10.30am-4pm

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Admission: Museum and garden £9 (£9 cons), £4.50 children In autumn, Norfolk people claim back their royal residence from summer visitors to roam the 600 acres of mature woodland. There are nature trails, paths and an abundance of conkers and chestnuts.

• Wayland Wood

A1075 to Thetford, just south of Watton, www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free, no dogs Believed to be the site for the legend of the Babes In The Wood, this is one of the wilder woods in Norfolk and is said to be haunted by the souls of the abandoned brother and sister. It's a thick wood of hazel, oak, ash and bird cherry.

• Fairhaven Garden Trust

School Road, South Walsham, 01603 270449, www.fairhavengarden.co.uk

Open: daily 10am-5pm

Admission: £6.10 (£5.60 cons), £3.60 children, 25p dogs (on a lead) Fairhaven manages to have plenty going on without spoiling the tranquillity. The magnificent 950-year-old King Oak is among other ancient oaks, beech and native trees. There are three miles of easy walking woodland trails.

• Thetford Forest

High Lodge, near Brandon, 01842 815434, www.forestry.gov.uk/thetfordforestpark

Open: visitors centre daily 9am-5pm

Admission: Free, car parking charge The largest lowland pine forest in the UK, Thetford isn't really the place to head to see autumn colour however you'll find miles of trails to take in many other autumnal treats which is great for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, birdwatchers, or those looking for the perfect picnic spot or hoping to see the forest's red deer. There is cycle hire available and Segway tours.

• Burlingham Woods

Off the A47, near Acle

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free A great place to really take in autumn woodland colour. A mixture of mature woodland and more recent wood and orchard plantings with three easy circular walks of one mile, two miles and three miles. Trails pass through and around land associated with the late Georgian Burlingham Hall, demolished 50 years ago.

• Sheringham Park

Wood Farm, Upper Sheringham, 01263 820550, www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk, visitors centre open selected days 11am-5pm

Admission: Free Mature woodlands with spectacular viewing points over the surrounding countryside, the park and woodland garden designed by Humphry Repton and owned by the National Trust have miles of footpaths with easy walking and cycling. Famous for its vast collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, at this time of year it's the autumn leaves that are the star attraction with some spectacularly colourful foliage.

• Bacton Wood

About 2.5 miles north-east of North Walsham, 01842 810271, forestry.gov.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free Also known as Witton Wood, tree cover here dates back to Saxon times. A wide variety of colourful autumn leaves with ancient Sessile Oaks among more than 30 different species of tree including larch and western hemlock in 280 acres of wood owned by the Forestry Commission. Popular with mountain bikers, it's great for dogs with wide, criss-crossing paths.

• Mousehold Heath

Norwich, www.norwich.gov.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free It stretched as far as South Walsham in Tudor times and was where Robert Kett, rebelling against the Duke of Somerset, camped with his army in 1549. It offers the best views of the city. It's easy to find quiet spots among the mature native trees, pits, dips and dells. Great views of the city from amid the colourful falling leaves.

• Felbrigg Estate

Felbrigg, near Cromer, signposted from A148 and A140, 01263 837444, nationaltrust.org.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Garden only £4.45, £1.90 children A riot of reds, browns, golds and russets creating a truly spectacular autumn palette. Follow ancient rights of way through the approximately 520-acre Great Wood, which contains thousands of trees – mainly maple, oaks, beeches, sycamore and chestnut. It shelters Felbrigg Hall from the biting northerly winds and is part of the undulating 1,760-acre estate, which features stunning views across the lake and has a Victory Wood – 200,000 trees with V-shaped rides to commemorate VE Day.

• Tyrrels Wood

Off the A140, Pulham Market, TM206897

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free Quiet and off the beaten track, Tyrrels Wood is a welcome spot for visitors and wildlife alike. Paths wind through dense undergrowth, emerging in open areas that boast big veteran oak trees. A circular route will take you through groves of gem-coloured oak, birch and ash, patches of golden yellow field maple interrupted by dashes of rowan-berry redness.

• The Walks

King's Lynn, www.thewalks.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free This historic urban park is a fabulous place to enjoy glorious autumn colours right in the heart of the town. The 800 mature trees are kings here, perfect for squirrel and bird spotting, and with great piles of leaves to kick.

• Pensthorpe

Off the A148 near Fakenham, 01328 851465, www.pensthorpe.com

Open: 10am-4pm daily

Admission: £11.25 (£9.50 cons), £8 children Flourishing with colourful butterflies and insects during the spring and summer months, and providing essential nesting materials and seeds for birds throughout the winter, this fine Norfolk attraction is worth a visit even after its mid-August peak, with the autumnal colours of the perennial foliage providing a rich spectacle well into the autumn months.

• Thursford Wood

North east of Fakenham. Leave Fakenham on the A148 road towards Cromer. www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free Woodland where some oaks are believed to be more than 500 years old. As well as containing some of the oldest oak trees in Norfolk, Thursford also has an excellent display of autumnal fungi. Good numbers of common woodland birds are present and the fallen branches and ancient trunks house an impressive range of insects and, with ponds too, the diversity of wildlife is impressive.

• Houghton

Off the A148, 10 miles west of Fakenham, 01485 528569, www.houghtonhall.com

Open: Wed-Thurs, Sun & Bank Holiday Mondays 11am-2.45pm until October 19

Admission: Garden and gardens £9, £3 children, £21 family The gardens are open until October 19, but even when they are closed for the winter, there are plenty of walks in the surrounding area, with fantastic views of this beautiful stately home from the wide tree lined avenues. The parkland was planted in the early 18th century, and contains a number of ancient oak and sweet chestnut trees. It is also home to a herd of about six hundred white fallow deer, as well as small groups of other rare deer species.

• Autumn Walk

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, South Walsham, October 16, 11am, included in garden entry £6.10 (£5.60 cons), £3.60 children, under-5s free, 01603 270449, www.fairhavengarden.co.uk

Enjoy the spectacular autumn colour of our ancient woodland garden with its mature oak and beech trees on this guided walk with Fairhaven's head gardener Ian Guest. No need to book.

• Fungi Foray

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, South Walsham, October 25, 10.30am-12.30pm, included in garden entry £6.10 (£5.60 cons), £3.60 children, under-5s free, pre-book 01603 270449, www.fairhavengarden.co.uk

Find out how to identify your death caps from your deceivers with fungi expert Dr Tony Leech on a foray into Fairhaven's woodland garden. Don't forget to take cameras. Additional offer to foragers: mushroom soup (what else), roll and a pudding for £5 per person. No dogs allowed

• Fungi Forays

Thetford Forest, October 11/18/25, November 1/2, 10am and 2pm (Oct), 1pm (Nov 1), 10.30am (Nov 2), £6, £4 children, 01842 810271, www.forestry.gov.uk/thetfordforestpark

Join a mushroom expert for one in a series of fungi forays in Thetford Forest on four Saturdays this autumn. Edible, poisonour, rare, smelly, unusual or just simply stunning you never know what you might find. Places are strictly limited and pre-booking is essential. Venues will be confirmed at the time of booking. Well behaved dogs and under-5s also welcome.

• Funky Fungi Family Fun

Whitlingham Country Park, Trowse, October 25, 10pm-12pm/1pm-3pm, £5, £3 children, £14 family, pre-book 01603 756094, www.broads-authority.gov.uk

Fantastic facts, fungi and games on a journey of discovery amongst the world of magical mushrooms and terrific toadstools. Suitable for 5+, but no unaccompanied children. Take outdoor clothes and footwear.

• Apple Day

Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse, OCtober 19, 10am-5pm, admission prices apply £9.90 (£8.60 cons), £6.50 under-18s, under-4s free, £29-£20 family, 01362 860563, www.museum.norfolk.gov.uk

Celebrate the wonderful apple and all things autumnal as Gressenhall hosts its annual Apple Day. Watch craftsmen demonstrating their skills, enjoy live entertainment and music as well as the chance to buy handmade country products and local produce. If you've always wondered what that 'mystery' apple tree in your garden or orchard is, have it identified and taste some of the very best apples in Norfolk, whole or pressed as juice or even cider.

• Autumn Tours

Holkham, October 19, 11am/1pm/3pm, £8, £3 children, under-5s free, pre-book 01328 713111, www.holkham.co.uk

Deputy landscape manager Jonathan Taylor leads this opportunity to view the private gardens surrounding Holkham Hall, which are normally closed to the public. See the spectacular arboretum with its many unusual and rare specimen trees resplendent at this time of year with their foliage in an array of autumnal tones.

• Awesome Autumn

Heigham Holmes, October 19, 10.30am-12.30pm, £6, £3 children, pre-book 0844 2491895, www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Join this wild walk through the National Trust managed reserve with the senior ranger. Venture off the beaten track, and look out for signs of autumn's wildlife along the way. Wellies essential!

• Autumn Adventure

Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, October 28, 10.30am-12.30pm/2pm-4pm, £4.25 children, pre-book 0844 2491895, www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Investigate autumn wildlife at this half-term family event including games, craft, and autumn outdoor fun at Wicken Fen in Cambrideshire, one of Europe's most important wetland sites.

• Amazing Autumn

RSPB Minsmere Nature Reserve, October 29, 10.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm and 2.30pm, £1.50 per person, plus normal reserve entry fees, 01728 648281, www.rspb.org.uk

Enjoy these interactive family nature walks. RSPB nature enthusiast Stephen Massey will bring Minsmere alive with a 45 minute adventure – using all your senses to explore the delights of the autumn wildlife. All walks will start from the Discovery Centre where there will be quizzes and crafts taking place. Book on the day at reception.

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