Being slapped in the face by a wet leaf means only one thing: autumn has come to the Chiltern Hills.

The harvest is in, and we enter that golden period between summer and the onset of autumn. Typically a period of calm. The countryside is slowing down. Not the butterflies, they are still busy around our feet, as we walk through the pale yellow grass.

So many spiders and an unfamiliar morning coolness, warm days snatched, hedgerow harvests, crows surf the frequent gusts and two stags are glimpsed through the Ashridge trees, tussling, preparing for the rut. Migratory birds have begun their epic journeys south and the geese are once again practicing ing their twice daily V formations over the house.

“Vapour breath
Sparking berries,
Laden with soft rain.
Damp dogs and wellies
Rainbows shiver through a monkeys wedding.
Home to warm towels and tea.”

Bringing in the harvest, long country walks and exploring Chilterns heritage during Heritage Open House are just a few of my favourite autumnal things.

I heard on the grapevine that pickers were needed to bring in the Solaris harvest at Frithsden vineyard last month. 40 or so volunteers,  including locals and “I missed it last year” regulars turned up on an expectant autumnal morning.

Ensuring a continual supply of wine
Piccotts End

A dot on the Chilterns landscape; somewhere you wouldn’t even pass through as the busy Leighton Buzzard road now bypasses the village. Yet this tiny settlement has one of the most remarkable and historically important features, tucked away inside a Grade I Listed 15th century cottage at No.132 Piccotts End.

Tucked away pre-Reformation murals

A story of battles fought and lost in a far-off land and a horse’s heart buried in Latimer.

Taking a dip in the river Chess
Penn House

I love the rain, but as the water-soaked overhanging branches slapped the car roof, I edged alone Mop End Lane, wishing I’d left home earlier. I couldn’t be late for the guided tour of Penn House conducted by Earl and Countess Howe no less!

Tourism trophy envy
Thameside in the autumn

Itching to get away from my desk and take a walk to enjoy a warm autumnal afternoon, it was a tweet that spurred me into action to head over to Cliveden Reach, between Cookham and Boulter’s locks in the southern Chilterns, the fabled and sweetest stretch along the River Thames.

Peeking through the shutters

Beneath a full moon, Autumn offers up the landscape to winter with a pink mist tumbling and rolling, blanketing the contours, icy grass and spectral trees.

The Rothschild five arrows
The Waddesdon Treasury gates open to reveal the treasures within

Valuable Rothschild treasure is reassuringly safe behind the pair of stout, boldly designed treasury gates at Waddesdon Manor.

Next up, a fabulous Chilterns winter.