Britain's Most Colourful Autumn Walks

by Sue Talbot

As a soft golden glow shines through wooded glades and I feel the nip of the first frost, my senses awaken. There’s a magical element to autumn walks that intensifies the natural beauty of Britain. The familiar sound of leaves crunching beneath my feet, the comforting smell of log fires, and the pine-scented forests that transform into kaleidoscopic canopies of orange and red jostle my being.

From the tree-fringed shores of Cumbria’s lakes to the untamed landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, I’ve selected just a few of Britain’s most beautiful and colourful autumn walks.

1. Rydal Mount, Lake District

Inspiring many famous literary and creative figures, such as William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome, the Lake District has been blessed with some of the most picturesque scenery in the world.

Red leaves are scattered across the pathway through an elaborate stately garden: Rydal Garden in thhe Lake District

But one place in particular stands out for me during the autumn months. Rydal Mount and Garden was once the home of Wordsworth, and its hillside location offers incredible views over Rydal Water. Deep red maple leaves carpet the ground, leading you up winding stone steps and along leafy terraces where you can explore rock pools and lawned sections. You’ll also find a rustic summerhouse and Dora’s Field (named after Wordsworth’s daughter).

Discover more autumn walks in the South Lakes.

2. Batsford Arboretum, Cotswolds

Playing host to a whopping 1500 trees, Batsford Arboretum puts on a magnificent display of colour in autumn. Nestled inside 56 acres of the Cotswold countryside, it can be found just a mile from Moreton-in-Marsh.

Leaves turning red on a Japanese Acer.

Between mid-October and mid-November is the best time to visit to witness the colourful eruption of maples and acers. From deep yellow and crimson to fiery oranges, the colour palette is explosive. Although you’ll find a wide range of plant species from across the world, there’s an especially large collection of trees, bamboo and shrubs from the Far East.

Explore more Cotswolds walks.

3. Offa’s Dyke, Shropshire

Stretching 177 miles from Prestatyn to the Severn Estuary, Offa’s Dyke Path is a stunning trail that passes through the Shropshire Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Its varied landscape attracts seasoned walkers wanting to appreciate the unique scenery and delve into the rich and diverse wildlife.

A red toadstool with pronounced white spots. A spray of orange fungi growing from the ground.

The trail is interspersed by ancient woodlands which are ablaze with colour in the autumn. This is a great time of year to also look out for the various species of fungi that add bursts of yellow, purple and red along the ground.

See more walks in the Shropshire Hills.

4. Yorkshire Wolds Way, Yorkshire

Known for its chalk landscape, pretty valleys and ancient villages, the Yorkshire Wolds Way spans 79 miles of uninterrupted beauty. The National Trail meanders through quintessentially English countryside made up of wooded hills and fields criss-crossed by dry stone walls.

Autumn views over Askrigg towards Penyghent on the Yorkshire Wolds Way walking holiday

While leaf peepers will be in their element among the vibrant autumnal trees, the Yorkshire Wolds is also a paradise for bird lovers. In autumn you can spot barn owls, finches and red kites as they flock together, and above the coast you’ll see thousands of birds setting off on their epic migration.

Learn more about walks in the Yorkshire Wolds.

5. Great Glen Way, Scottish Highlands

Exploring dilapidated castles, thundering waterfalls, mountains and lochs, the Great Glen Way takes you on a fabulous journey of discovery from Fort William to Inverness.

The Calendonian Canal gleaming in autumn light on the Great Glen Way.

Autumn is the best time to embark on this National Trail, not only because the route is quieter and there are fewer midges to feast on you, but also because of the trees’ brightly coloured leaves that reflect on the Caledonian Canal. The hues on the distant hills start to transition from lush greens to deep rusty reds and oranges, creating a vibrant backdrop to the walk.

Take a look at walking tours of the Great Glen Way.

Sue Talbot

Adventure Travel Blogger

Sue Talbot is an adventure travel blogger and iPhone photographer who’s often found hiking up the Lakeland fells or swimming in fairy pools. Her outdoor adventures and photographs can be found on her blog, Lifehop, and also her Lake District Lovers Facebook page.

Read more blogs by Sue Talbot

Originally published 17/08/22

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