Pumpkins are a member of the squash family (Curcubita). First cultivated across the Atlantic, they were brought to us by intrepid explorers.
Now, they’ve become synonymous with autumn and are grown all over the UK. Helpfully, we’ve scouted out the best places across the UK to pick your very own pumpkins, just in time for Halloween...
Farmer Copley’s in West Yorkshire promises to present the UK’s largest pumpkin festival, from 5-31 October. There will be more than 120,000 pumpkins both ‘warty’ and smooth, in a rainbow of red, green, white, blue, black, yellow, mixed and, of course, orange. You can also take advantage of the Farm Shop and Moo Cafe.
Ravensknowle Farm, Pontefract Road, Pontefract WF7 5AF; farmercopleys.co.uk
The Spookley Pumpkin Festival is coming to Apley Farm Shop on 12-31 October. For £2.50 entrance you can pick from thousands of home-grown pumpkins, carve the spookiest of shapes, ride on the Pumpkin Express and sample seasonal pumpkin dishes. It's also an excellent opportunity to stock up on smoked pheasant at the food hall, and head to the animal park or the nature trail.
Apley Farm Shop, Norton, Shifnal, Shropshire, TF11 9EF; apleyfarmshop.co.uk
Pumpkin Day at the Riverford Organic Farm is legendary for its children’s activities, farm tours, pumpkin carving and seasonal food – and with good reason. This year, it falls on Saturday 26 October at Riverford on Wash Farm, Devon.
Riverford Organic Farmers Wash Farm Buckfastleigh TQ11 0JU; riverford.co.uk
While you're there, Shute Fruit and Produce is also well worth a visit. Their pick-your-own farm in Teignmouth is dedicated to creating a sustainable farming system, working with the RSPB to protect the rare Cirl Buntings that nest on the farm, and making every effort to reduce their plastic use.
Shute Fruit and Produce, Shute Farm, Bishopsteignton Teignmouth, Devon TQ14 9PN; shutefruit.co.uk
Crockbridge Farm in Weybridge is Surrey’s go-to destination for a huge selection of home-grown pumpkins. There's also themed fun and games galore at the perennially popular 'I-Scream Parlour', plus apple bobbing and face painting in the ‘Creepy Tepee’. Visit them on their famous Pumpkin Weekend and book a ticket for their Wonder Wood Immersive Theatre, operating during half term – this year you can enjoy a trip into the woods with Jack and Mr Beanz' Stalk.
Crockbridge Farm, New Haw Road, Addlestone, Nr. Weybridge, Surrey KT15 2BU; crockfordbridgefarm.co.uk
Also in Surrey, you’ll find Secretts, where you can take a tractor ride out to the pumpkin patch. Established in 1908, this farm hosts an annual pumpkin week in the school half term before Halloween. This year, that falls on 23-28 October.
There’s also a mini tractor play area, face painting, biscuit decorating and the ever-popular T'Jay's Pay and Play. Refreshments (of course) include pumpkin soup, pumpkin curry and pumpkin cake. Surrey seems to have rather a glut of pumpkins: Garsons Farm in Esher also offers pick your own pumpkins over 150 acres of land.
Secretts of Milford, Hurst Farm, Chapel Lane, Milford, Surrey GU8 5HU; secretts.co.uk
For every pumpkin picked and bought at Lester Farm in Ashford, Kent, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to 21 Together and Hamstreet Academy & Nursery School. The pumpkins are priced according to size: £1 for ‘bat’ sized (up to 18cm), to £8 for a 'Monster'.
Cheeseman's Green Lane, Sevington, Ashford TN25 7HU; pickyourownpumpkin.farm
Having opened in 2012, the pumpkin patch at Brooksgrove Farm has grown bigger each year, now offering thousands of pumpkins for visitors to pick, with no entrance fee. Simply turn up at the farm between their opening hours (check their website for the lastest updates) and pick away.
Brooksgrove Lane, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire SA61 1XR; brooksgrove.co.uk
Travaskis Farm near Hayle in Cornwall offers free admission to pumpkin pickers, set amid 28 acres of countryside. It’s open from 8am until 7pm every day. Go along in the early evening and enjoy supper at their Trevaskis Farm Kitchen, open from 6pm for dinner.
Trevaskis Farm Restaurant, Gwinear Rd, Connor Downs, Hayle TR27 5JQ; travaskisfarm.co.uk
100,000 pumpkins will be ripe for picking at Cattow’s Farm, a 300 acre working farm in Leicestershire. You can pick your own throughout October, and they also have an excellent tea room and a farm shop brimming with fresh seasonal produce.
Cattows Farm , Swepstone Road, Heather Leicestershire LE67 2RF; cattowsfarm.co.uk
Craigiesin Edinburgh was established back in 1966, and is well-known as a pick-your-own destination that generations of children and their parents have visited to gather fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a minimum spend of £3 per person, and you’re provided with a basket and a handy map to point you towards the best picking spots. At time of writing, the pumpkins are still ripening, but they’re available throughout October.
West Craigie Farm, South Queensferry, Edinburgh EH30 9AR; craigies.co.uk
At Millets Farm Centre in Oxfordshire, you can pick your own pumpkin right out in the fields of a working farm every day from 19-31 October. Pumpkin prices vary according to size, and Millets accepts cash only. Pumpkin carving kits and Halloween merchandise can also be purchased in the farm shop.
Millets Farm Garden Centre Ltd Kingston Road Frilford Abingdon Oxfordshire; OX13 5HB; milletsfarmcentre.com
This year’s spectacular Undley Pumpkin Patch and Maize Maze near Lakenheath is this year celebrating its 20th in style, with magic shows, obstacle courses and even a pumpkin-shaped bouncy castle. You can choose one from a pre-picked sea of pumpkins, or pick a pumpkin directly from the plant. The pumpkin patch will be open every weekend of October and the entire week of half term.
From Munchkins to Monsters, the third generation farmers at Rogate Pumpkin Patch near Petersfield have plenty for kids to pick, and with added fun provided by a haunted house, go karting, crazy golf and more. Entrance is £2.50 during the half-term holiday, but for this you get a full day of pumpkin slinging and decorating before you take your own spoils home.
Rogate Pumpkin Patch, Rogate, GU31 5EG; rogatepumpkinpatch.com
It’s free to visit the Foxes Farm Produce pumpkin patches, which will be open from September 28. Entry is free and a number of pumpkin-tastic games will be on offer at the farm. There are two farms: one near Basildon, and the other Colchester (both are open every day during half term, as well as a number of other selected dates - check to avoid disappointment.) Take on the maize trail while you’re there, too, for only £3.