The New Forest’s chocolate box villages, rich history and outdoor adventures have guests coming back to Undercastle Cottage year after year. Autumn is Mother Nature’s grand finale and one of our favourite seasons in the forest. It’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy nature at its most colourful best. Autumn sees the forest put on a magical show of vivid pinks and purples across the carpeted heather plains flanked by a kaleidoscope of red, bronze, gold and dark glossy greens. Autumn skies are broadly blue, and the air temperature still generously mild with a nip in the air – perfect for a leaf-crunchingly good walk.
Under the canopy, a new world of life unfurls as mushrooms and fungi emerge, sprinkling for forest floor with mystical shapes and acid bright colours. The New Forest has around 2,700 species of fungi and secret spots in the forest where truffles are said to thrive. But be careful if you’re not sure what’s safe to eat. We’d always suggest going with an expert, you could book a tour, or bespoke private fungi foray with a specialist provider such as The English Truffle Company. September is the month Mother Nature opens her pantry door. Head into the forest and pick a harvest of plump juicy blackberries, elderberries, crab apples and sloes to tumble into a glass back at the cottage and top with gin!
Autumn also hails the ancient commoning right known as Pannage. This is when hundreds of domestic pigs are set free into the forest to feast on acorns, which can be poisonous to our free-roaming ponies and cattle. The pigs often have rings through their noses to stop them foraging too deep into the ground and damaging plant and tree roots. Look out for the porkers along the roadside and snuffling about the forest floor, but don’t get too close, especially if there are piglets close by with an overprotective Mum! The pigs are all owned by ‘Commoners’ who are locals with property adjoining the forest with ancient rights to let their pigs forage during designated times of the year, or by special license. Come the end of the season, you’ll find some local butchers selling Pannage Pork, which has a uniquely sweet and nutty flavour.
The New Forest festival and events season is still going strong in the autumn. New Forest 100 Sportive Cycling Event 14th September is a favourite for cyclists (we have a secure lock-up for bikes at Undercastle Cottage). The event covers a choice of routes over two days, and it is as much fun to watch as to take part. We’d suggest you find a gorgeous pub with great food and a beer garden on the route, so you can cheer them on as they whizz past. Another event for sporty types is The New Forest Marathon on September 19th. There are seven race options which start from New Park Showground in Brockenhurst. Burley Steam and Vintage show 28th – 29th September is fabulous, bringing together classic and vintage steam engines from a bygone age. Besides the traditional mighty puffing beasts, you’ll see displays of tractors, cars, motorbikes, stationary engines, live music, crafts, market stalls and plenty of food and drink. The New Forest Walking Festival 12th – 27th October is It’s a tremendously popular 2-week festival led by the New Forest National Park Authority. There are around 80 expert-led walks, each focussing on a different theme including wildlife, history, and family adventures. The walks aim to give you a deeper insight into the life of the parks animals, communities, ancient rights they live by and of course, all the beautiful scenery.
The river weeds of the Hampshire Avon tend to die back, forcing fish out in to the open and roam, thus making for satisfying and excellent fishing. Indeed, some fishermen think Autumn is the best time of year for rod action with fish prowling the water in a bid to feed up for the colder months ahead. The banquets of fly hatches, clouds of algae and their natural pantry begin to lessen as the first morning frosts appear and colder nights draw in, making a fisherman’s bait a tempting and easy meal.
After all those walks, exploring and fishing escapades, coming back to Undercastle Cottage is a treat. Light the fire, draw the curtains, pop open a bottle of your favourite tipple and sink into the comfy sofas.
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