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Steam train on the Watercress Line - autumn kids day trips

Seven autumn day-trips to do with kids

Roaming bison, pig walks and pasta-making. Discover seven autumnal day-trips out of London with a difference

Written by
Emma Hughes

As the chilly nights start to creep in, and your kids need wrapping in wooly mittens scarves, it's a time for considering the kind of activities that are perfect for whiling away the gorgeous, autumn days. Seasonal transitions mean there are a variety of unique events to get involved in, all of which will keep the young 'uns on their toes and allow you to get out of the house and indulge in some autumn fun. Here are seven great day-trips for families with kids that take advantage of that special time of year... 

RECOMMENDED: Day-trips from London

Seven autumn day-trips for kids

Outdoor fun doesn’t come much more wholesome than fruit-picking – even when you’re doing it a few miles from the legendary festival site in Pilton. Wait for a sunny day, then head for the sleepy slopes of Glastonbury Tor to help bring in this year’s harvest at an apple-picking session. In between fruit-gathering you can find out more about all the different varieties and play some apple-themed games – you might even get to taste juice straight from the tree. 

Perfect for fans of five-a-day (parents: cider doesn’t count, soz).

Glastonbury, Somerset. Castle Cary rail.

Oct 14-15, 21-22. Free.

Go leaf-peeping at Stourhead

The best thing about autumn is without doubt kicking through piles of crunchy leaves – and nowhere does seasonal foliage like Stourhead in Wiltshire. The eighteenth-century landscaped gardens are awash with burnished hues right now, courtesy of maples, acers, hornbeams and chestnuts. Guides lead autumn foliage walks twice-daily, or children can pick up a Tracker Pack and explore under their own steam. Bonus: the scones in the tea room are A++. 

Perfect for anyone who needs to let off steam. 

Stourhead, Wiltshire. Bruton rail.

Non-members £16, £8 child.

Meet bison in the New Forest

Think bison, and you probably think of America’s Great Plains – but you can watch them stomping and snorting a little closer to home in the New Forest Wildlife Park. Three of these majestic beasts roam its 25 acres; it’s hoped they’ll form part of a UK breeding programme. There’s plenty of animal magic elsewhere in the park: you can join in the daily otter feed, chat to the lynx keepers about conservation projects and watch the resident wolves doing their wolfie thing. 

Perfect for Young David Attenboroughs who want to see some amazing creatures in the wild. 

New Forest, Hampshire. Ashurst New Forest rail.

£11.50, £8.50 child, £35 family ticket. 

Make pasta at the Abinger Cookery School

Sharing your home with a Junior MasterChef? Help them take their pan-shaking to the next level at the Abinger Cookery School. During a half-day session they’ll learn to make the likes of ravioli and chocolate fondant, picking up tricks like pasta-rolling and basic knife skills along the way. You can cook alongside them – or, if they’re over 13, you might fancy dropping them off and heading to the pub for the afternoon. Up to you.

Perfect for kids who love ‘GBBO’ and want to try their hand in the kitchen. 

Guildford, Surrey. Gomshall rail.

£50 a head. 

Get your binoculars out at Dungeness

With its giant stretches of shingle and deep, still lakes, the RSPB Dungeness reserve is all kinds of spooky-cool. Kids can grab a free Wildlife Explorer backpack and turn detective on the nature trail: at this time of year there are migrant waders like sandpipers and greenshanks, plus flocks of goldfinches and linnets. Afterwards, head over to the famous Dungeness Snack Shack for the catch of the day in a bap – or, if it’s nippy, a bowl of smoked-cod chowder. 

Perfect for budding birdwatchers.

Dungeness, Kent. Ashford International rail then 11B bus.

Non-members £4, £2 under-16s. 

Steam ahead on the Watercress Line

This heritage railway – so named because everyone’s favourite salad leaf used to be brought up to London on it from growing beds in Hampshire – is served by a fleet of steam engines that chuff between Alresford and Alton. A round-trip is a must for Harry Potter fans: one of the footbridges features in the films! Plan a visit for October 28 or 29 and you’ll get the chance to dress up in a Hogwarts uniform, hold an owl and experience a little bit of real-life magic.

Perfect for Potter-heads looking for some real magic and err...trainspotters?

Alresford to Alton, Hampshire. Alresford or Alton rail. 

£16, £8 child.

Go on a piggy walk in the Brecon Beacons

What could be better than an autumn yomp through one of Britain’s most beautiful spots? Answer: doing it with a herd of miniature pigs in tow. When you get to the hamlet of Heol Senni you’ll be greeted by smallholder Helena and her kunekunes: a pocket-sized breed that’s full of fun. You’ll set off for a stroll with your new friends in tow, stopping for treats and tummy tickles – they might even go for a swim in the river. Back on the farm you’ll tuck into a ‘pig-nic’ of cream cakes. 

Perfect for pals of Peppa and co. 

Heol Senni, south Wales. Newport rail then 15 bus. Two hours.

£25, £15 child.

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