Experience the magic of the South Downs National Park this autumn

Experience the magic of the South Downs National Park this autumn

Tis the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, with cool morning breezes, birds twittering in the skies, golden leaves, and crimson sunsets.

It’s not hard to see why autumn has inspired some of our greatest literary figures, from Keats to Shakespeare.

As we say the long goodbye to summer and enjoy the last of its comforting warmth, September and October are some of the best months of the year to experience the stunning beauty of the South Downs National Park.

It’s also a great time of the year to enjoy taking photographs in the National Park, which stretches for almost 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne and includes some of the UK’s most picturesque hills, valleys, rivers, streams and forests.

With almost two months left of the National Park’s annual photo competition, people are being encouraged to capture the serenity of this special season in the South Downs.

The theme for this year’s competition is “Nature Makes Me Happy” and judges are looking for uplifting images that capture the beauty of the natural world – whether that be landscape, wildlife, rivers and coastline, woodland, a piece of history, or people enjoying the National Park. The broad theme could also cover those “happy places” in the South Downs that replenish the soul.

The top prize for the adult category will be £250, with a runner-up prize of £150, third prize of £100 and fourth prize of £50.

The youth competition returns this year for budding young photographers – with categories 10 years and under and 11 to 17. There will be a prize of a family pass to Marwell Zoo for the 10 years and under category, while the prize for 11 to 17 category will be a family pass for a Forest Segway outdoor adventure ride at Go Ape.

Nick Heasman, Countryside and Policy Manager for the National Park and chair of the judging panel, said: “Autumn really is a magical time to enjoy the South Downs National Park.

“The sunrises and sunsets are particularly impressive, with the ‘golden hour’ of photography happening at a more convenient time for most people as the sun rises later and sets earlier.

“All the gorgeous reds, oranges and pinks that we see in the sky are partly because the sun stays near the horizon for longer and the sunlight has to pass through more of the Earth’s atmosphere before it hits our eyes.

“Taking photographs can be a great family day-out as people of all ages now have excellent cameras on their smartphones and you could perhaps combine the trip with a woodland walk, nature spotting or a pub lunch. We hope people enjoy experiencing the autumnal magic of the South Downs!”

Here are three ideas for autumn days-out in the National Park, combined with snapping some awesome shots on your camera or mobile phone:

·         Woodland walks – There’s nothing quite like a forest adventure with the sound of trilling birds and crunchy autumn leaves underfoot. Did you know that almost a quarter of the National Park is covered by glorious treescape, with more woodland than any other National Park in England and Wales? The South Downs is blessed with some very tranquil woodlands, often with openings in the trees offering majestic views of the chalky hills. Why not try Alice Holt, Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Slindon or Friston?

·         A walk and pub fare – Who could fail to be charmed by a crisp autumn walk, followed by a steaming supper by a log fire at a wood-beamed inn? The National Park has some fantastic eateries and a bit of online research (CAMRA is a good place to start) and booking ahead are all it takes to round off your day-out with something really special.

·         Miles Without Stiles – With the weather turning a little colder, many of us just want a gentle stress-free walk and the chance to fill our lungs with some fresh, clean air. Our Miles Without Stiles routes, designed for people of all levels of mobility and fitness, are a wonderful choice for an autumn stroll. Check out the website for downloadable walks at locations in Hampshire and Sussex.

Entries for the photo competition close on Sunday 31 October. Find out more and download the entry form at www.southdowns.gov.uk/care-for/photocompetition2021/

For inspiration and downloadable guides on where to walk this autumn visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/get-active/on-foot/walking-trails/