It’s no secret that here at Jacobs & Dalton we’re absolutely obsessed with autumn. Can you blame us? We can finally break our sheepskin boots out of hibernation, and our sheepskin throws make the perfect backdrops for autumnal home decor.
We also love a good autumnal treasure hunt, and what’s better than getting outdoors to collect conkers! You certainly don’t need to have kids to enjoy fall finds like conkers, acorns, leaves with their changing colours, pine cones and more. We think that these make the perfect accents for your home decor in autumn, especially as gorgeous warm natural colours are so on trend this season, so we wanted to share a few of our top tips on locations you’ll have the best luck collecting conkers around our hometown of Thirsk in North Yorkshire and how to use them in your home.
Where to collect conkers in North Yorkshire
Whether you want to be a conker champion or are simply building a collection of treasures to add to your home decor, you’ll need to know where the best places are near you to find conkers. Here are our top spots in North Yorkshire to collect conkers in October:
Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal
While entrance to Fountains Abbey itself comes under the National Trust, the parkland at Studley Royal is free to enter with vast expanses of 18th century woodland ready to explore, with plenty of horse chestnut trees scattered across the site.
Castle Howard’s Arboretum
With 128 acres and more than 6000 trees on site, there are plenty of conkers to go around at Castle Howard’s Arboretum!
Knavesmire Wood is located right beside York’s racecourse, which makes this area really accessible for those who live in the city centre and might struggle to get out into the countryside,plus it’s public access to all.
This site near Bedale is known for its bird of prey centre, but it also has a fantastic arboretum, and one which campaigned for saving horse chestnut trees in 2019 – so you’re bound to come across more than a few conkers here!
The Stray, Harrogate
The Stray in Harrogate is famed for many reasons, but we particularly love the area where the annual bonfire is held for collecting conkers, you’ll just want to be quick as we’re not the only ones that know about this area!
Entry into Dalby Forest comes with a fee, but you’ll be rewarded with not only an absolute treasure chest of usually untouched horse chestnut trees, but also gorgeous autumnal trails and play areas for kids.
Just down the A19 from Thirsk, you’ll find Beningbrough Hall which is owned by the National Trust. You can either enter the grounds of the stately home and explore the woodland here for conker picking, or simply wander the surrounding parkland for free where you may stumble across another few horse chestnuts.
York Designer Outlet
It seems an unusual choice, but if you want to plan more of a day out than just conker picking, book yourself a little shopping trip at the York Designer Outlet, just off the A64 outside York, and you’ll discover there are plenty of conkers to find there too!
Bolton Abbey isn’t just a stunning 12th century priory ruin in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, it’s also home to the famed Strid and its surrounding woodland. We know for a fact that there are plenty of conker trees hidden around these woods!
West Bank Park, Acomb
If you want an easily accessible park to hunt for conkers, West Bank Park in Acomb is a winner!
For a conker hunting location that’s off the beaten path and out in the countryside, give Yearsley Woods a try. The multiple trails through the woodland and alongside ponds are dotted with horse chestnuts.
When are conkers ready?
When you’ve got kids pulling at your arms to get outside and find the best conkers, or if you’re simply sick of the summer weather and want to get your autumn decor out, the wait for autumn can feel like forever. So when is conker season in the UK?
You’re in luck right now as conker season has already hit! The best time to collect conkers is when they’ve had plenty of time to harden inside while on the tree. By the time they start to fall from the tree and collect on the ground, usually around mid-September to early October, they’re in perfect conker hunting condition!
Picking the spiky conkers straight from the horse chestnut tree may result in conkers that are still ripening and not ready for use – whether in games of Conkers or as home decor. It’s better to wait until they’re already on the ground, but don’t leave them there too long or they’ll become damp and likely to split down the middle and mould.
What to use conkers for
Everyone knows the classic game of conkers, where children find the biggest and best conkers and smash them against each other until only one is left standing – even going through methods like hardening them in the oven or soaking in vinegar solutions!
But we absolutely love conkers for a couple more uses in autumn:
How to decorate your home with conkers
Conkers are really synonymous with autumn for most of us, and they’re a great, low-maintenance way to introduce some natural decor into your home. Where wreaths made with fall flowers or leaves will quickly wilt or dry up, conkers will last a lot longer! Simply glue them onto a foam ring, or carefully pierce and thread onto a wire ring.
Conkers also look fab stacked in a tall glass vase. You can pop a candle in the middle of the conkers, or add a few acorns or fairy lights for some added interest here as a fantastic table centrepiece.
We also love a really simple look of conkers in a decorative bowl or as part of a cosy decorative corner, along with one of our sheepskin rugs, a few knitted pumpkins and a scented candle for that ultimate hygge vibe.
Crafts with conkers
If you’ve got kids, conkers are perfect for craft projects in the autumn, and especially Halloween. Here are a selection of some of our favourites:
Finally, conkers aren’t just for games or decoration! Did you know that old wives’ tales say that conkers can also help to keep spiders away? While we don’t have any definite proof of this, it can’t hurt to try keeping those creepy crawlies away while keeping your home looking on trend at the same time.