Falling in love

NEW ENGLAND By Tim Cole The four seasons all have different associations for holidaymakers. In the winter we think of taking the children to Lapland, visiting Christmas markets, heading off to the ski slopes or making that desperate sear


By Tim Cole

The four seasons all have different associations for holidaymakers.

In the winter we think of taking the children to Lapland, visiting Christmas markets, heading off to the ski slopes or making that desperate search for the sun.

The spring is the traditional popular time for city breaks - Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Rome.

In the summer we take to the beaches - be it the South Coast, the Mediterranean or the Caribbean.

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But the autumn... well for me it means one thing: The fall in New England.

In this country the idea of referring to autumn as 'fall' is an anathema, except in this one circumstance.

For it is the leaves turning colour before they fall from the trees that make the north-easternmost corner of the United States so special for a few glorious weeks.

Depending on when you arrive and how cold the temperatures have been for the previous month you will find the fall line has moved south to varying degree. In the north of Maine the colour begins in September, but in the most picturesque states, Vermont and New Hampshire, October is the time to travel.

Be it on the interstate highways or the paths through the backwoods you will find a display of multiple shades that is hard to believe.

Possibly the most famous route lies in New Hampshire going along the Kancamagus Highway between Conway and Lincoln

This east-west route across The Granite State has such shades of foliage on show that you want to stop at every one of the multitude of parking places to marvel at the view.

To describe the colours as reds, yellows, greens and browns really cannot do it justice.

The route on the Lost River Road into Vermont at Wells River is similarly spectacular.

At the heart of New Hampshire lie the White Mountains, with Mt Washington as the highest point of all.

Not only is this the crowning peak of the presidential range and at 6,288 ft above sea level the highest mountain east of the Rockies, it is also the place where the fastest wind speed on the planet was logged - 231mph. No wonder they call it the home of the world's worst weather.

Not all the time of course... pick the right day and although it is always chilly at the top, you will be rewarded with views that stretch across to the Atlantic coast and into Canada.

There are two ways to reach the summit. By car along a terrifyingly winding road that has seen many a driver turn around before they have got anywhere near the summit. Or, for a trip that is an adventure in itself, by the cog railway which has been taking passengers to the top since 1869. This is the way to go.

It is a three hour round trip with just 20 minutes at the top and it isn't cheap at $59 for adults, but every second and every cent is worth it.

To travel north to Mt Washington and west along the Kancamagus highway, North Conway makes a perfect mid point - and there is a bonus here for avid shoppers.

Stay at the North Conway Grand Hotel and you can walk out of the front door into Settler's Green Outlet Village and the big name stores on offer.

In the late afternoon when you get back to the hotel from the chill autumn air outside, you are greeted by free hot chocolate or hot apple cider and plates of cookies, all watched over by a massive moose.

Strangely it is Vermont that is more famous for the skiing season which merges into the tail end of the fall. Snow on the ground and red and gold in the trees are not mutually exclusive.

The state is famous for two particular foodstuffs: The finest maple syrup that adorns so many an American breakfast and Ben and Jerry's ice cream.

You can visit the original ice cream factory where the company was launched in the 1970s, easily found just off I-89 at Waterbury. The tour is entertaining - and you get to taste the goods for free at the end.

Ten miles north of the factory lies the stunningly picturesque town of Stowe in the heart of the Green Mountains.

A mecca for skiing during the winter, at other times of year it is also a beautiful base for exploring the famously wonderful waterfalls of Vermont, a large number of which are within easy driving range.

The warmest welcome in Stowe can be found at the Green Mountain Inn, slap bang in the middle of town, with a fabulous downstairs restaurant which has an alarmingly good list of local brews and a fine menu. Breakfast in the dining room upstairs is also great with the chance to people watch looking out onto the main street.

Wherever you go in New Hampshire or Vermont though, remember one thing - Beware of the Moose!


Where to stay

North Conway Grand Hotel

72 Common Court, North Conway, NH 03860

Website: www.northconwaygrand.com

Phone: 603-356-9300

Green Mountain Inn

18 Main Street, Stowe, VT 05672

Website: www.greenmountaininn.com

Phone: 800-253-7302

What to do

Mt Washington Cog Railway

Base Road, Bretton Woods, NH 03575

Website: www.thecog.com

Phone: 800-922-8825

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory

1281 Waterbury Stowe Road, Waterbury, VT 05676

Website: www.benjerry.com

Phone: 866-258-6877