We are officially in Autumn, ready to welcome russet leaves, harvest festivals, early sunsets and the "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness". Well said, that John!

Our British summer has passed, and we are so excited to see Winchester in beautiful autumnal tones.  There is something magical about the earthy smells, the multifaceted golds and reds and the crunch of dried leaves under foot.

Although the sixteen hours of daylight are now a distant memory, this season is bountiful and has a huge amount to offer.  As Jane Hirshfield once said “The heat of autumn is different from the heat of summer. One ripens the apples, the other turns them to cider” – who doesn’t love a glass of apples?

We aim to take the complicated decisions out of planning your stay; where to go, what to see right down to what to pack.  So it is without further ado that we present to you:

What to put in the suitcase for a September mini break

Outerwear: We take a page from the boy scouts manual and prepare for all scenarios!  Layers are key to enjoying the great outdoors this season.  A light jacket (preferably waterproof) takes up little room in the case, won’t make you too hot but will protect you from the sudden showers indicative of September.  A lightweight umbrella would be advised…just in case.

Footwear: Wellies are a must; we optimistically suggest that trainers and pumps will see you through your activities in town but when venturing out to enjoy the spectacular views we think wellies are the way to go.

Tops: There is so much to keep you on the move that it won’t leave anytime for the threatening cold winds to touch you, go for long and short sleeve t-shirts with a cardy or a shirt.  Packing chunky knits is rather like putting the central heating on in August!

Bottoms: Jeans are leggings – not too thick but provide the cover needed to protect knees from mud splashes.

You can get away with a couple of bottoms, a few layers for the top and be content in the knowledge that you can pack light, leaving room in the suitcase for all important souvenirs and keep sakes.

Our favourite activities to enjoy the colours of Autumn –

A woodland walk: What better way to spend a lazy day than catching falling leaves as they twist and twirl in the breeze, finding the natural canopies to shelter from the showers and enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the off-the-beaten-track paths.  We highly recommend The South Downs and St Catherines Hill

I still want to be outside: 2023 Heritage Open Days pay homage to the colourful history of creativity to coincide beautifully with the wonderful colours visible everywhere throughout Winchester.  Lots of these days are a turn-up-and-enjoy event, some you have to book in advance.  From the modern to the medieval, from technology to historic characters, this is great chance to enjoy the fresh air with some festive fun thrown in.

For the very rainy day: Winchester is full of museums to wander at your leisure, there is also an opportunity to visit the ‘Georgia O’Keeffe: Memories of Drawings’ exhibition throughout September.  The exhibit is housed in The Arc (a grade II listed building) which is fast becoming THE cultural destination to visit.

A cosy place to eat: We have some of the most inviting pubs and restaurants, we are talking service with a smile, roaring fires, and delicious cuisines from around the world.  We highly recommend a visit to the award-winning Wykeham Arms, this is a country pub surrounded by history and photo-worthy buildings.  The food is locally sourced and it’s the perfect place to cosy up and enjoy a wonderful meal.

Cosy autumnal reads to enjoy with your feet up in your lodge -

If you, quite rightly, would like a stay with activities, history, great food, and places to visit but still want to make the time to pop your feet up and settle down in your luxury lodge then we have you covered.  Of course, we offer cream teas, beauty treatments and food to your door, but we also think there is a cosy-beauty in loosing yourself in a good book without the noise of a busy road, doorbells ringing or the need to be running around getting things done. 

With that in mind we have put together one final list for you – the best autumnal reads!  Besides the classics, here are a few you may not have read yet;

For the horror lovers – 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  All the usual horror and edge-of-your-seat suspenseful reading we expect from this author but with a heartfelt ending (how’s that for a twist!)

For the romantics – The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller.  A classic feel-good, dreams coming true story that will make you smile.

For the laugh out louders - Sorry Not Sorry by Sophie Ranald.  A hilarious read, a wonderful tale of climbing out of a rut in the most relatable and funny way possible.

For the science fiction fans - Fractal Noise by Christopher Paolini.  Full of anomalies, life-endangering journeys, and the truth of what is really ‘out there’.

For the escape searching fantasy enthusiasts - Witch King by Martha Wells.  Murder, imprisonment, warped perception and of course a little bit of magic to join the dots together.

We hope this is enough to get you in the mood for autumn and all the wonderful things we here, at South Winchester Lodges, and our fair city itself have to offer.  We would love to welcome you and help you make some wonderful memories.  Remember, we would be delighted to answer any questions you may have about your itinerary!

For other ideas about how to spend your time enjoying autumn in Winchester, visit the Facebook Community Group Windependents.