Immerse yourself in autumn's richness and colour across the Surrey Hills
Autumn is nature's last magnificent hurrah of the year and it's a treat for all the senses. The glorious ambers, reds and golds of trees create a marvellous backdrop to this most mellow of seasons. But there are also other treats - the smell of damp woodland and bonfires; the sharp-sweet taste of fruits - blackberries, damsons, apples; the sounds - owls, deer, migrating geese; the crispness of leaves at your feet, the prickliness of conkers. That slight nip in the air. Now is the time to immerse yourself in this most sensuous of seasons in our special places.
The hills and woods of our special places abound with trees that show their full glory in autumn. Beeches, oaks and silver birch are all great show-offs when it comes to the autumn months. But also look our for some of the smaller shrubs - rowan trees, hawthorn and dogwood - are all excellent performers.
Berries and fruits
This is the time of year for fruits to ripen. Look out along the headgerows for blackberries and also sloes on blackthorn bushes. Wash them thoroughly before using them in traditional recies such as CRUMBLE and SLOE GIN.
Hawthorns berries (or haws) are rich in antioxidants and sought out by winter visitor birds such as redwings and waxwings. Rowan berries are also a precious food source for birds as they feed up before winter.
Oaks of course are famous for producing acorns, ground up in the Second World War as a cheap coffee substitute. More palatable today are hazelnuts if you can get there before the squirrels! Sweet chestnuts were introduced to Britain by the Romans for eating and can be found in the woods. They are smaller than the well known horse chestnut conkers, appearing as a set of four seeds within the casing. Differentiation?