October is the time to search for these strangely satisfying fruits of the horse chestnut tree. Inside that spiky green case you might find a mighty, mahogany behemoth, ready to be strung up and do battle in a quintessentially British game of conkers. Here’s our guide on the best places to find these pugilistic nuts and where to go for a competitive conker fight (remember: stampsies are strictly forbidden!).
Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe
Hughenden is home to the UK’s largest horse chestnut. The all-conkering tree measures 24 feet around its trunk and is thought to be over 300 years old, pre-dating many others that were planted in the estate’s parkland by Victorian PM, Benjamin Disraeli, when he lived here in the late 19th century. A conker from this champion tree has got to be a winner.
Bushey Park, West London
Collect your conkers from the mature trees that line the appropriately named Chestnut Avenue, which runs from Hampton Court to Teddington Gate. Kids, challenge someone to a game and you can tick off Activity No.10 (‘Play conkers’) on the National Trust’s ’50 Things to do before you’re 11¾’ list.
Hampstead Heath Conker Championships, London
Gather at the bandstand on Parliament Hill for a chance to win the coveted Golden Conker. Now in its 17th year, this popular event claimed a Guinness World Record in 2011 for the largest conker competition in the world with nearly 400 conkertestants.
7 October from 2:30–6:30pm
Langham Brewery, Lodsworth, West Sussex
Every October, this South Downs microbrewery hosts a full-on conkerfest. This year, there will be both junior and senior conker contests, a bar with 13 of the brewery’s award-winning ales on tap, live music, BBQ and steam engine rides.
Sunday 14 October from 1–6:30pm
The Stapleton Arms, Buckhorn Weston, Dorset
The annual conker tournament at this 17th-century country pub has a competition for both individual players and teams of three. Winners get a beautiful wooden bowl, carved from horse chestnut, and a conker-covered cap!
Sunday 14 October from 2pm