There’s something special about early autumn – the kids are back at school, Christmas is months away, holidays are over but the sun is still shining. It’s the best time to get back in touch and meet up with friends for chats over coffee. But forget the high street, seek out some atmosphere at historic places with cosy cafés and a good understanding of the brew.
Want an atmosphere that’s modern and bright? If you’re in Scotland here are two great choices: In the West, the new Visitor Centre at Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute, about an hour from Glasgow serves coffee with cakes and sandwiches in a flower filled ambience to give you the perfect start before a walk through the policies down to the Firth of Clyde.
Further East, Ochiltree’s Restaurant at Abbotsford in the Borders gets its beans from pioneering Glasgow coffee traders, Matthew Algie. Their blend is named after Mary Kingsley, whose explorations of West Africa in the 1890s changed attitudes towards African cultures. The fruity Kingsley Blend mixes beans from Ethiopia, DR Congo and Sumatra. The views of Sir Walter Scott’s house from the windows are magnificent too.
South of the border, coffee among the leaves at The Alnwick Garden Treehouse in Northumberland is a colourful experience in the Autumn but watch out for falling leaves in your steaming mug! With coffee or hot drinks from the Potting Shed café, you can sit outside while the young and energetic bounce round the wobbly rope bridges or sit inside at tree trunk tables.
Across the country in Cumbria, a proper cup of Italian coffee is waiting for you at Askham Hall where the quirky Kitchen Garden café is tucked away but cosy around the wood burning stove on a chilly morning. If you are lucky they will be firing up the outdoor pizza oven to tempt you to stay for lunch as well.
There’s a wide range of coffees to choose from at Croome in Worcestershire. Here the 1940s style café is in reclaimed RAF huts from World War 2 and a touch of authenticity adds to the atmosphere. Cakes here can be gluten free if that is what you are looking for and your small companions can have a Babycino – frothy hot milk to you and me – to warm them up on a cool autumn day.
It’s not surprising to find that they are fussy about a good cup of coffee at Chatsworth in Derbyshire. Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee beans are specially selected and freshly roasted by Coopers Coffee of Huddersfield and served for you in the Farm Shop café with wonderful views over the park.
Heading East again, round off an energetic walk in the park at handsome Hylands House near Chelmsford with coffee in the Courtyard Café or if you have been dogwalking you can always sit outdoors in the Patio café and enjoy water for your pooch as well.
Just off the A1, the baristas at the Woodland Café at Moggerhanger Park in Bedfordshire serve coffee in a restored parkland building just near the woodlands and playground in the corner of the walled garden. Just the spot after a walk in the woods.
Down South, the Cloisters Café at Chichester Cathedral is worth a visit. With your coffee you not only get a stunning view of the private gardens and cathedral tower but, if you are lucky, the chance of seeing one of the resident peregrine falcons diving on a passing pigeon.
Brave the wind for an autumn beach walk in Cornwall at Tintagel Castle’s secluded bay and finish with a cup of coffee in the sheltered Beach Café. A great way to enjoy the last of the summer sunshine and it just might be warm enough to paddle.