Leafy landscapes dusted with auburn and gold
On a clear day, head for Parliament Hill in the middle of Hampstead Heath for a panorama of London at its autumnal best. While many parks lose their wildlife around this time, there’s still plenty to see on the Heath – including muntjac deer, squirrels (busy gathering their winter nuts) and the famous ring-necked parakeets.
When it comes to beautiful colours, it doesn’t get much more gorgeous than the National Arboretum in Tetbury. Set in 600 acres of historic woodland, it contains a whopping 16,000 different trees (including some of the world’s rarest) all showing off their best autumnal shades. Try one of the specially-prepared Seasonal Trails, where you’ll see the colours at their finest. Grab a leaflet with details from the Great Oak Hall when you arrive.
Autumn is the best time to see the pretty pink Cyclamen, and you can get a closer look at the leaves’ dramatic colours, 59ft up in the air, on the tree top walkway. In fact, everything looks prettier from up there…
When you see the striking red Boston ivy clinging to the side of Hever Castle, you know it’s autumn. Go for a wander along the Walking In The Wild trail and look out for autumnal delights like fungi, edible berries, conkers and hazelnuts. There’s a special leaflet showing you where to look and what to see.
October is the best time to see Exbury Gardens’ famous waterside maples, dogwoods and liquid ambers, as they explode into oranges, reds, purples and crimsons. The guys at the gardens have helpfully created a special autumn trail to ensure you see the best of the colour…
Autumn is a bit of a favourite for walkers around Wharfedale. The moorland heather still has its purple tint left over from summer, and if you head to the rocky outcrop known as the Grubstones, you’ll get great views of Yorkshire and see flocks of redwing arriving from Scandinavia.
This two-mile, family-friendly walk includes the best of the Chiltern’s beech and oak woods, as well as the potential to spot red kites and watch the annual deer rut along the way. There’s also the added bonus of a cosy National Trust tearoom en-route.
This is a fairly challenging walk but the rewards are worth it. Follow the meandering River Lynford and it’ll take you to the 30-metre-high Whitelady Waterfall (probably at its most spectacular in autumn), and the series of bubbling whirlpools known as the Devil’s Cauldron. Powerful stuff.
Get your camera at the ready. Autumn is one of the best times of year to see Cheddar Gorge, with the bright reds, oranges and yellows of the autumn leaves standing out against the grey slabs of the rock itself. Our favourite place to see it is from the top of Jacob’s Ladder.
The ancient town of Lewes is the starting point for this walk, which takes you along the meandering banks of the River Ouse before climbing up to Firle Beacon. Come here in the late afternoon and you’ll see the rolling hillsides drenched in golden light as the sun sinks. Then finish up the day with a well-deserved pint in the Ram Inn.
Psst... Handy hints
Ask the gardeners at Hever Castle to explain how they put the estate’s plants to bed for the winter. You might pick up some useful autumnal planting and pruning tips.
Fly a kite
Grab a kite if you’re heading for a walk along Parliament Hill. Aside from rather splendid, colourful views, its elevated (and generally windy) position means you’ll get plenty of lift-off.
If there’s a particular specimen of tree that you’re looking for at the National Arboretum , you can use the interactive map to locate it.
Exbury Gardens ’ 200 acres is a lot to get through, whatever the season. But if you start to flag, just hop on their miniature steam train.
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