11 Gorgeous Autumnal Walks
Autumnal walks, whilst having a bit of a chill factor, hold some of the most beautiful landscapes of the year. The trees turn to golden browns and gorgeous reds and oranges. The air, crisp with a hint of those colder days to come.
It is then a time of year that is perfect for romping over the soft hills of the English countryside.
So, we thought we might put together a little list of walks that would be absolutely perfect to take your HBB on.
If you like this article, or perhaps have a favourite walk to share, feel free to leave a comment in the box below.
In the South West
1. Stourhead, Wiltshire – King Alfred’s Tower walk
This 5 mile walk takes you up through beautiful woodlands to King Alfred’s Tower (open at weekends only, 12-4pm throughout October), a 160ft high folly designed for Stourhead’s owner Henry Hoare II in 1772. It is believed to mark the site where King Alfred the Great rallied his troops in 878. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the spectacular views across the lake in the landscape garden, with the deep autumnal hues of red, russet and yellow from the surrounding trees. Take your time to soak up all the features of this masterpiece, including the tranquil garden of the South Lawn, the shaded banks running down to the lake and the Grotto, which contains a statue of a sleeping nymph.
2. Castle Drogo, Devon – Teign Gorge walk
This is one of the most famous walks on Dartmoor. The route takes you past the imposing bulk of Castle Drogo – which was the last castle to be built in England, these areas are rich in history, with incredible views and abundant wildlife.
Then there is Fingle Bridge, a popular focal point for budding photographers, and the perfect spot for a game of Poohsticks in the river Teign. The return journey follows the river’s path through dense oak woodland where the foliage turns to vibrant shades of yellow and orange. If you look up you might just catch a glimpse of the castle above the trees.
3. Kingston Lacy, Dorset – Beech Avenue and Droves walk
This 3.8 mile walk takes you round the beautiful network of droves, along the stunning 1835 Beech Avenue and back along the outskirts of the Kingston Lacy parkland. The Avenue began life in 1835 when William John Bankes planted 731 trees along the side of the newly built road. The tree canopy now forms a beautiful tunnel of russet colour during the autumn months. The National Trust is now working to conserve this stunning visual landmark by replacing lost beeches with hornbeam trees, which also provide beautiful autumn colour, but are more suited to the British climate.
4. Brownsea Island, Dorset – Rich Reds of Brownsea walk
Brownsea’s unspoiled landscape provides a peaceful haven for visitors seeking a bit of autumn colour. From sweet chestnuts and beeches to hazel trees and scarlet oaks from North America, there are a whole range of bright hues to enjoy. Even the local wildlife adds to the vibrant atmosphere with migrant redstarts and the local population of red squirrels as the stars of the show. This easy walk will take you round the island to enjoy all the delights of the season with sweeping coastal views thrown in for good measure.
5. Heddon Valley, North Devon – Heddon Valley to Woody Bay walk
Nestled on the West Exmoor coast it’s easy to see why the Heddon Valley was a favourite with the Romantic poets. In autumn the path through the valley is full of vibrant yellow gorse, which scents the air with the smell of coconuts all the way down to the sea at Heddon’s Mouth. There are also plenty of walking routes higher up, including an historic 19th-century carriageway and part of the South West Coast Path, which run across some of England’s most dramatic coastal cliffs. Those prepared to brave the challenging terrain will be rewarded with stunning coastal views across the Bristol Channel to Wales.
Near London and the South East
6. Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey – Winkworth to Oakhurst walk
During the autumn months the splendour of Winkworth Arboretum really comes to life with rich, blazing colour from the Japanese, American and Norwegian maples. This 2.5 mile walk weaves its way through the woodland to the top of Hydon’s Ball, where you can enjoy spectacular views across the Surrey landscape. From here the route carries on to the charming village of Hambledon where you will discover Oakhurst Cottage, a delightful 16th-century labourer’s home which has remained largely unchanged for the past hundred years or more.
7. Emmetts Garden, Kent – Weardale walk
This beautiful circular walk links Emmetts Garden and Chartwell (formerly home to Winston Churchill), passing through the woodland areas of Toys Hill and Hosey Common. Emmetts garden has a beautiful display of autumn colour due to its variety of exotic trees and shrubs, all surrounded by acres of wild native woodland. Keep an eye out for the Acers and Katsura Toffa trees, and see if you can smell the latter filling the air with a sweet toffee scent.
8. Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex – Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber walk
Only five miles north of Brighton, Devil’s Dyke is full of stunning vistas – including a panorama which the Romantic painter John Constable described as ‘the grandest view in the world’. From a working farm nestled among rolling hills to the remains of Iron Age ramparts and old chalk pits, there is plenty to see in this landscape. A colourful habitat all year round, in September the hill-barrows at Newtimber become even more vibrant when the flowers transform the hillside into a beautiful carpet of purple.
9. Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire – Wicken Fen Boardwalk trail
Wicken Fen may not have any woodland, but it’s still possible to see stunning autumn colour on a walk around the reserve. In September the sedge turns an amazing russet colour, which becomes golden in the evenings as the setting sun illuminates the leaves. During the Second World War Dig for Victory campaign, the war office turned the fen into arable land. Restoration of the area is now being carried out, and every visit you make to Wicken Fen helps the National Trust to care for the plants and wildlife that have made a home here.
In the Midlands
10. Attingham Park, Shropshire – A Light Autumnal Walk
Explore the changing colours of the deer park with a walk taking in views over the open landscape to the river, and of the orange-gold trees that mark the start of the woodland. Kids will love crunching leaves underfoot or trying to catch them as they fall from the trees. Keen-eyed adventurers might also be able to spot some of the resident fallow deer herd camouflaged among the brown bracken and ferns.
11. Belton House, Lincolnshire – Belton Park Walk
Autumn reds, yellows and golden browns can be found all over Belton, from the adventure playground and parkland, to the tranquil views overlooking the boating lakes. The magical misty mornings and crisp, clear days of autumn are an ideal time to enjoy the wonderful succession of changing colours. As you explore the estate on this walk, you can rustle your way through fallen leaves and enjoy the gorgeous golds and yellows of the lime trees along the cobbled drive. Closer to the house, rich ruby and russet creepers clad the honey-coloured walls of the West Courtyard, where the sharp but sweet aroma of ripening quinces lingers on the air.