Our Favourite UK Autumn Walks
Autumn is a fantastic time to get outside and enjoy a good walk. In fact, we’d argue there’s nothing better than spending a crisp, clear autumnal day outside followed by a cosy evening spent warming up with a hot drink and hearty meal.
Not only do many popular walking spots become quieter as the autumn months progress, but they also come alive with new colours, sights and sounds. From the changing hues of tree canopies to the calls of rutting deer, woodlands are perhaps the most obvious choice when picking an autumnal walk. However, across the UK, coastal areas, moorlands and fens also offer diverse landscapes to explore during the autumn months.
To help you choose where to head on your autumnal adventure, we’ve rounded up our best autumn walks across the UK.
South West – Teign Gorge, Devon
The Teign Gorge walking trail is one of the most famous walks on Dartmoor and arguably looks its best in Autumn when the leaves begin to change hue and fall, carpeting the woodland in vibrant oranges and golden browns.
The Teign Gorge classic circuit covers just over four miles and takes approximately two and a half hours to complete unless you decide to stop for a picnic en-route.
Highlights of the walk include ancient woodland, moorland views at Sharp Tor and numerous bridges where you may be lucky enough to spot salmon or brown trout jumping up the weirs to find their spawning grounds.
South – Bolderwood, Hampshire
Bolderwood is a delightful forest located just Northwest of Lyndhurst in the New Forest National Park. It offers different length trails that can be combined to create a longer route for all day adventures. With smooth gravelled surfaces, gentle slopes and plenty of benches it’s the perfect route for all family members, young and old.
The walks take you through ornamental woodland, giving you plenty of chance to marvel at the changing colour of ancient beech, sweet chestnut and oak trees - some of which date back to the 1860s.
Plus thanks to a purpose-built deer watching platform on one of the walking routes, you can spend time watching the deer as they come into their rutting season.
East – Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire
Although woodlands may seem the best choice when choosing an autumnal walk, fens also offer plenty of interest. At Wicken Fen, one of the National Trust’s oldest nature reserves, the russet-coloured sedge provides the perfect backdrop for an autumn walk.
The reserve is a haven for birds, and from September onwards, you may spot short-eared owls, hen-harriers, redwings and fieldfares. You may also come across Highland cattle or Konik ponies on your route, as both are being used in conservation grazing schemes to help create new habitats for an array of wildlife.
Wicken Fen has several routes for you to try, and its newest, the Octavia Hill Trail, takes in the most recently acquired fen, Burwell.
West Midlands – Nesscliffe Hills and Cliffe Countryside Heritage Site, Shropshire
With wooded hills and a heather-clad ridge, Nesscliffe Hills provides a riot of stunning autumnal scenery. An extensive network of paths cover the 70 acre site, meaning there is plenty to see and do. The terrain varies from level tracks to steep, narrow footpaths, and the routes can get muddy after heavy downfall, so we recommend sturdy footwear.
As well as offering expansive views over Shropshire and the Welsh Hills, this woodland is home to an Iron Age Hill Fort and a series of old quarries which years ago provided stone for local churches and castles.
East Midlands – Froggatt Edge, Derbyshire
Froggatt Edge is the ideal place for a day out in the Peak District. The eight-mile ‘short route’ is perfect in Autumn, but there is a longer route for those looking for more of a challenge.
The lofty gritstone escarpment lies not far from Bakewell, so it is easy to access despite seeming a million miles from the bustling town. But one of the best things about this walk is that you don’t have to work too hard to discover far-reaching views over the dramatic Peak District landscape, as there is only a short uphill section.
North West – Buttermere Circular, Cumbria
Anytime is a good time to visit Buttermere, but fewer visitors mean Autumn is arguably one of the best times. Relatively easy-going, the four and a half-mile circular route follows the lake the majority of the way with only a short section on the road, making it ideal for families.
For those looking for more of a challenge, you can head off the path on a marked route towards Haystacks, one of Alfred Wainwright’s favourite hills.
Trees surround the majority of the lake, so on still, autumn days, rich reds and vibrant orange colours reflect in the water creating, not only a spectacular scene but also a calming atmosphere you will want to sit and soak up.
Yorkshire – Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire
Hardcastle Crags is a stunning wooded valley near the popular market town of Hebden Bridge. With over 15 miles of walkways to explore, there is plenty to fill a whole day. The paths are well marked and easy to follow, but they can be rugged in places, so you’ll need to watch out for rocks or tree roots underfoot.
Remnants of the areas industrial past can still be seen along the old railway trail and at Gibson Mill, which the National Trust has converted to an off-grid cafe.
In autumn, not only do the woods provide a stunning display of leaf colour, but the floor becomes littered with hundreds of varieties of fungi.
North East – Hamsterley Forest, County Durham
Hamsterley Forest lies between the Wear and Tees valleys on the edge of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. As County Durham’s largest forest, in autumn, you are met with the colours of the season the moment you arrive.
The forest offers a great variety of walking trails from easy one and a half-mile strolls to longer routes, making it ideal for a wide range of visitors.
The Bedburn Valley walk is a great option in autumn when the red and gold hues of the ancient oaks and changing shades of the bracken bring the area to life. The Spurlswood Walk too is another option to explore as it passes close by Blackling Hole – a deep pool and picturesque waterfall.
Wales – Swallow Falls Gwydir Forest, Conwy
Gwydir Forest Park lies in the heart of Snowdonia National park and offers a range of tranquil autumn walks, including the Swallow Falls route.
The circular walk covers around two and a quarter miles of fairly strenuous terrain, including steep and narrows pathways, but the reward is the view of the Swallow Falls, which should be in full roar as the autumn rainfall swells the stream.
Once you’ve completed the walk, hop in the car and drive 10 minutes down the road to discover the ‘Tu Hwnt Ir Bont’ tearooms, one of the areas most famous sites. Covered in Virginia Creeper, which turns fiery red in September, it’s a popular autumn attraction where you can warm up after a challenging hike.
Scotland – The Hermitage, Perthshire
The Hermitage, in Dunkeld, is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing autumn stroll away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Home to some of the tallest Douglas Firs in the country, it is the ideal place to soak in the unique atmosphere of a forest.
You’re in good company too – the area has long been a popular place to take some time out, and notable visitors of the past include Queen Victoria and William Wordsworth.
A well-marked circular route takes you through the towering firs along the River Braan to the Ossian’s Hall folly which offers incredible views over the Black Linn Falls. Although, you can easily extend the route to include Braan Falls if you want to stretch your legs a bit further.
Northern Ireland – North Antrim Cliff Path, County Antrim
The North Antrim Cliff Path offers breathtaking views across the Irish Sea, as well as one of Ireland’s most famous landmarks - The Giant’s Causeway. Autumn is a fantastic time to visit as not only is it quieter, but it’s more atmospheric- with the churning sea, crashing waves and changing landscape providing a haunting backdrop to an area born from myths and legends.
The five-mile stretch from Dunsverick to the Giant’s Causeway follows a key section of the Causeway Coast Way & Ulster Way. As a linear route, you can choose to walk there and back, or you can catch the bus back to Dunsverick to give your legs a breather.
Not only do you get breathtaking coastal views, but there's also the chance to spot peregrine falcons, guillemots and choughs.
As winter approaches and the nights draw in, it can be tempting to hang up your waterproofs and put away your walking boots. But with frosty landscapes, the magic of low winter sunlight and the promise of a warming pub fire at the end of a walk, we think there are plenty of reasons to carry on getting out and about this winter.
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