September is such a busy month with bonus end-of-season holidays or the nervous excitement of back-to-school. There’s the renewed vigour of those going back to work and the last festivals and barbecues set to make the most of those remaining warm mellow days.

It’s so busy that you can almost miss the start of autumn creeping into gardens and parkland, blanching and then flushing the leaves with rich colour.

Gardens bring their own sensory delights with the bright blowsy blooms fading to brittle, sculptural seed heads, some fluffy with seeds in flight.

There’s a different feel and smell to the air as autumn advances – the tingle of chill in the shade and the golden warmth of slanting sunlight. There’s the smell of woodsmoke and rich earth, sometimes lifted with the tang of apples.

The sounds change too. The rustle and swish of crispy leaves is the soundtrack to an autumn walk, punctuated by the crunch of nut shells and gentle thump of falling chestnuts.

There are amazing ways to enjoy these autumnal delights at National Trust properties across Bucks. Here are just some of the family fun events to look out for.


Cliveden has four fortnights of family fun designed to help you explore new parts of the estate. There are four self-led family trails with a different theme for each fortnight. Visitors tall and small are invited to engage all their senses whilst discovering the delights of the Round Garden, hunting for minibeasts and learning something new about our tremendous trees and lovely leaves.

The Fantastic Foragers Trail runs from September 20 to October 4, the Terrific Tree Trail from October 4 to 17, Creepy Creatures from October 18 to 31 and Wild Wonders from November 1 to 15. Cliveden is open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm.


For leafy autumn walks and stunning scenery, head to Stowe gardens and parkland. Make the most of Stowe’s accessible paths, tree-lined avenues and quiet lake-side benches. Enjoy a back-to-nature adventure, kick-up a few leaves, collect conkers, watch the wildlife and grab a breath of fresh air. Stowe is open seven days a week, 10am to 5pm.


Explore the hidden world of fungi this autumn. Carved giant mushrooms will be dotted around the estate, which will be dressed in autumn colours and fungi-themed decorations.

Autumn produce from the walled garden including squash, gourds and pumpkins, apples, pears and medlars will be on display too, showcasing the best of the harvest season.

A children’s trail, suitable for ages 5-8 years, will take families around the darker, wilder areas of the gardens to discover fascinating facts. Runs from October 16 to November 7, £1 activity sheet available from the kiosk.

A companion aspect of the programme for adults is a mushroom spotter sheet that follows the path of the short waymarked Woodcock Wood walk, a prime place for autumn colour and with a rich humus woodland floor, ideal conditions for a fungi safari. Free to pick up from the kiosk from October 1-31.

Throughout autumn, families will also be able to discover the wide variety of apples in the orchard and walled garden and take home a bag of apples to enjoy at home. Every week different varieties ripen so there will be different tastes to experience through September to November. Hughenden is open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm.

Greys Court

Following Sir Felix’s Gentle Walk is a great way to experience autumn at Greys Court. It’s short enough for little legs and has a variety of environments, colours and textures to keep lively little minds interested.

It’s all about food and harvest in the children’s trail at Greys Court this autumn.

Visitors can discover what’s growing in the kitchen garden and orchard and see if they can spot any farm animals in the fields around the site.

The trail runs from October 2-31. Greys Court is open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm.


Encounter magical beasts from myths and fairytales in a fantastical safari experience.

See if you can spot all the creatures and the rangers who tend them then claim your prize at the end.

The Cryptid Safari Halloween trail runs October 23 to 31 and is £3.50 per trail.

In the evenings, the Cryptid Safari Trail comes alive - as darkness falls, you’ll discover the mighty dragon, trolls climbing trees and faerie folk flying high. The Cryptid Safari is performed by Strange-Twig Theatre Company.

Wed 27-Sat 30 October, 6pm 7pm and 8pm.

£15 adult, £10 child.

Waddesdon is open Wednesdays to Sundays 10am-5pm

Basildon Park

This autumn at Basildon Park the National Trust are encouraging families to put on their wellies and explore the estate on an autumn walk.

There are four different walking routes to choose from so something to suit everyone.

The play area next to the Stableyard is now open.

The children’s trail explores themes of light and dark and runs 22 Sept – 31 Oct.

Canons Ashby

As the days get shorter and the leaves begin to turn, explore autumn in the gardens and parkland at Canons Ashby.

Over Apple Harvest weekend (September 25 and 26) you can enjoy some traditional seasonal fun and beautiful decorations in the house and church, as well as a small selection of seasonal stalls activities and crafts, suitable for all the family to join in.

Whilst you’re there, try the Autumn Owl Trail (from mid-September) when exploring the grounds, spot the harvest mice in the house, and warm up with a hot drink and treat from the tearooms to take off the chill.

Normal admission prices apply. There may be small additional charges for some activities over Apple Harvest weekend. If you want to buy things from the stall holders, please bring cash.

Opening hours vary, please check the website for more information.