From Anne Boleyn’s former castle to a botanical garden in Snowdonia.
Stretching far beyond your Instagram feed, people around the world flock to hotspots aglow with fiery colours. In fact, the seasonal activity is so popular in the USA that they’ve coined the term ‘leaf-peepers’ to describe those hitting the trails.
But there’s no need to venture too far from home to make the most of autumn’s fleeting beauty, just pull on your wellies and grab the camera… we’ve rounded up ten of the most spectacular places in the UK to see autumn in all its glory.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire
Re-lanscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the Park at Blenheim Palace offers over 2,000 acres for exploration. Embark on the Park Perimeter Walk and discover the greatest collection of ancient oak trees anywhere in Europe, some of which are believed to be up to 900 years old.
Lady Mary's Walk, Crieff, Perthshire
Stroll under a spectacular canopy of rusty and golden hues on Lady Mary’s Walk as it runs through woodland and along the banks of the River Earn. If you fancy stretching your legs further, continue through a gap in the old railway embankment at the end of the walk and follow the circular route onto nearby Laggan Hill for beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
New Forest National Park, Hampshire
Whether you prefer to explore on foot or on two wheels, the New Forest offers spectacular autumnal views with its unique mix of ancient, ornamental and native trees. Choose from a selection of short ‘n sweet walks or rev up for a day hike. Whatever you do, make room for a pit stop in one of the local country pubs.
Stourhead, Stourton, Wiltshire
The classical architecture nestled between the colourful trees and shrubs makes for magnificent views while strolling around the central lake. If you want to learn more, volunteers lead daily autumn walks and promise the best vistas. Avoid any disappointment by phoning ahead to the weekly ‘leaf line’ (01747 841152) to find out what the garden looks like that week.
Sheffield Park, Uckfield, East Sussex
Delight in an explosion of colour, from yellow to rust to deep red, as you meander through the glades and wooded areas surrounding the four lakes at the heart of the Grade I listed garden. Make sure you bring a camera as the dramatic reflections afforded by the top two lakes make for the perfect photo opportunity.
Westonbirt National Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucestershire
October is peak season for viewing the autumn foliage at Westonbirt Arboretum, but with 15,000 species of trees it’s a feast for the eyes from September to November. There are two seasonal trails to choose from: the dog-friendly Silk Wood Trail and the Old Arboretum Trail, which is dog-free.
Hever Castle and Gardens, Hever, Kent
Pull on your walking shoes and follow the Autumn Colour Trail which will take you through the most beautiful and secluded parts of the grounds, including Anne Boleyn’s Walk with its ancient collection of trees. If you’re visiting in the morning, opt for the Lake Walk which offers spectacular views of the sun-bathed Loggia.
Bodnant Garden, Conwy, Wales
Nestled in the Snowdonian foothills, Bodnant Garden is not only home to exotic botanical collections from around the globe but also Wales’ largest collection of Champion Trees (the biggest and best of their kind in the UK) which burst into colour during the autumn months.
Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead, Cumbria
A three-mile hike from the visitor centre will take you to the highest point in the forest, Carron Crag. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with panoramic views of the surrounding hills and fells brought to life by the warm autumnal hues.
Mount Stewart, County Down, Northern Ireland
Recently voted one of the top ten gardens in the world, Mount Stewart’s landscape is an elaborate design hosting exotic plants which thrive in the uniquely mild climate of Strangford Lough. After exploring the mediterranean-inspired formal gardens, head off on a walk around the lake to view the autumn leaves reflected in the water.
Images: Mark Hemsworth for Blenheim Palace; Visit Scotland/Paul Tomkins; New Forest Destination Partnership; iStock; Andrew Butler/Mount Stewart for the National Trust; Paul Groom/Grizedale Forest for the Forestry Commission; Hever Castle & Gardens