Autumn at Dalkeith Country Park
13th September, 2021
As we wave goodbye to the summer months at Dalkeith Country Park, we say hello to one of our favourite seasons. We love to see the beautiful autumnal colours emerge on the trees, but there are lots of nature sightings and crafts to look forward to as well.
We know many of you love to visit the Park during the school holidays, so we have found the perfect 10 Things to Look for This Autumn to help keep the little ones smiling come October Week! So pull on your wellies, look out your woolly hat, grab your flask and head on out.
1. Enjoy the trees displaying their beautiful colours.
Whether it’s the great views from Fort Douglas, or a more down to earth view of the trees, the autumn colours at Dalkeith are amazing. You can even introduce a little science ~ did you know leaves change colour due to the reduction of daylight and temperature in autumn, which causes the leaves to stop their food-making process, the green colour to disappear, and the yellow, orange and red colours to become visible!
2. Keep your eyes open for flying mammals!
As the days get shorter, you may be visiting as dusk arrives and be lucky enough to spot our Pipistrelle or Long Ear Bats. But did you know that bats are the only mammals capable of flight ~ others can only glide! At this time of year, they are getting ready for winter ~ they’ll enter hibernation in November and may not be fully active again until May!
3. One thing you can count on this time of year is an abundance of acorns.
Follow our walk through the Old Wood (our Purple Walk), and you might see our acorn harvest ~ we have put down nets to collect the acorns from our ancient oaks and to help us pick the best ones before the squirrels or magpies get there first! It is important for us to collect the acorns so that we can keep the line of these mighty Oaks going in this wood.
4. Look for clues to where our badgers hang out.
Whilst you might not see these nocturnal creatures, hunting for badger tracks, droppings and footprints can take hours! You’ll know it’s a badger foot print if it has kidney shaped pads with five toes pointing straight up and long non-retractable claws. Badgers feed heavily on nuts, seeds and berries to lay down fat reserves for the winter, maybe if you look carefully, you’ll also find some evidence of what they had for lunch!?
5. Collect conkers.
The seed of the horse chestnut tree, conkers will drop to the ground naturally when they are ripe. Fill your pockets and grab your vinegar & strings ~ and if you’re not the competitive kind, use conkers to decorate your house throughout autumn and winter. You’ll find a huge horse chestnut tree at the start of our yellow walk and we even have a horse chestnut on King’s Drive, rumoured to have been planted by King George IV!
6. Jump in crunchy leaves.
Jumping in crunchy leaves is one of life’s joys, for young and old! Enjoy an invigorating fresh, crisp walk with all the family, kicking through leaves and jumping for joy. Guaranteed to leave you smiling.
7. Gathering fallen art materials.
Autumn finds the ground covered with fallen leaves, twigs, berries, pine cones and nuts. To some of our four legged friends, these are home, food for winter or bedding materials, but for our little two legged friends, they make great art materials!
8. Watch out for hedgehogs.
The hedgehog is one of our most loved mammals. Often found under the autumn leaves as it searches for slugs, beetles, caterpillars and worms. But do be careful as you kick through the leaves ~ hedgehogs numbers have fallen dramatically from 30 million UK wide to now less than one million.
9. Pick up pine cones.
Painted, sprayed, glittered or just as nature intended, pine cones can make fabulous Christmas decorations. All different shapes and sizes can be found if you look carefully – perfect for this year’s Christmas tree!
10. Get muddy!
Autumn is the perfect time to visit Dalkeith Country Park and enjoy our waymarked walking routes. With your wellies on, ready for muddy puddles, there are routes for all abilities. And if you’re in need of a little refreshment, there’s always a delicious hot chocolate available from our friends at Restoration Yard.