Slow Living Series | The Best Autumnal Walks in the UK
The days are drawing shorter, the temperatures are dropping, and the leaves on the trees are slowly but surely changing colour. Cosy season is finally here.
It’s time to envelope yourself in your favourite knitwear and head outside for long walks in the woods, over fields or up hills, admiring the fiery hues of the autumnal scenery that surround you. This is my favourite time of year for heading outdoors, when the natural landscapes are at their most dramatic with russet colours shrouded in mist.
Whether you’re planning a long hike in the countryside, or just looking for the best places for leaf peeping in the UK, here are some of favourite autumn walks to visit in England, Scotland and Wales for spectacular colour and picturesque landscapes.
Ullswater, Lake District
The whole of the Lake District is breathtaking in autumn, with the fiery colours of the trees reflected in the deep blues of the lakes, sometimes with a dusting of snow on the mountain peaks towards the end of the season. One of our favourite spots for admiring the autumn foliage is around the shores of Ullswater. Park outside Glenridding and walk along the shore of the lake through a woodland that is majestic during the autumn months. There are rocky outcrops and a lovely little boat house with a jetty where you can admire the views, keeping your eyes peeled for the steamer sailing past. Drive just a short distance up the road to admire Aira Force waterfall surrounded by autumn colours, or continue driving all around the lake to Martindale, where you can walk up Hallin Fell for dramatic views of the local landscape. This is also one of the best places in the Lakes to spot stags rutting.
Pride and Prejudice fans should head to Stourhead from mid-October to late-November to see this majestic National Trust property in full autumnal glory. The gardens here are beautiful all year round, but are particularly stunning in autumn, when you can capture an iconic photograph of the white stone temple and rust-coloured trees reflected in the surface of the lake. There are many different walking routes to enjoy around the property, but perhaps the best loved is Alfred’s Tower walk, a two-hour loop that leads you through the woodland to admire the 160 ft folly that dominates the skyline. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower to admire the vistas of the surrounding countryside from a bird’s eye view.
Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire
This beautiful wooded valley is located just above the popular tourist town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, offering 15 miles of footpaths to discover around Gibson Mill and Hebden Beck. Walkers can remain in the valley, admiring the autumn foliage as they stride through the woodland or along the banks of the river, or there are several routes leading you up high up onto the moors, where you can admire the oak, pine and beech trees from above. There are great family walks here, with easy loops to the mill from the National Trust car park and stepping stones across the river to add an element of fun.
Allen Banks, Northumberland
October and November are the best months to visit Allen Banks for fiery autumn colours and an array of interesting fungi to search for on the forest floor. This is the largest area of ancient woodland in Northumberland, providing visitors with ample opportunities to walk along the river or through the trees, admiring the scenery and wildlife.
Glen Affric, Scotland
Frequently touted as the most spectacular glen in the Scottish Highlands, Glen Affric is particularly beautiful during the autumn months. The golden hue of the trees creates a sharp contrast between the dramatic mountains and deep blue waters of Loch Affric, providing plenty of photo opportunities. There are a variety of walks to enjoy around the Glen, but if you have the time, the 18km Loch Affric Circuit is a wonderful all-day walk that offers plenty of views of the loch, woodland and surrounding mountains.
One of the most photographed autumn scenes in Wales has to be Ty Hwnt i’r Bont Tea Rooms, a 15th Century National Trust cottage that sits on the banks of the River Conwy. During the autumn months, the Virginia creepers covering the cottage are ablaze in a fiery red glow, and its location right next to the river and an old stone bridge is just picture perfect. There are several walking routes to stretch your legs before or after a visit to the tearooms, such as the circular route that follows the Trefriw Trails signposts. You’re also right on the edge of Eyri (Snowdonia) National Park, where there are endless walking trails to enjoy, mountains to climb and views to admire.
Teign Gorge, Devon
Teign Gorge is surely one of the most beautiful places for an autumn walk in the south-west. Located within Dartmoor National Park, the circuit walk around this tranquil woodland is particularly beautiful during October and November when the leaves are red and golden. The route begins at Castle Drogo, winding downhill into the valley, with highlights including the dramatic views at Sharp Tor.
What to wear on an autumn walk
It’s important to wrap up warm and be prepared for any elements while out walking, especially if you’re tackling a longer or more challenging route. One of our Elsi lambswool roll neck sweaters is ideal for keeping you warm beneath a waterproof layer, with its turtleneck keeping you snug and toasty even when the temperatures plummet. If you’re out walking earlier in the season, a knitted vest worn over a t-shirt is a great way to keep your core warm without feeling too hot. I never head out on a walk without a pair of our walking socks – I love how they add a pop of colour above my walking boots and feel so warm and comfortable on my feet. Finally, a wool alpaca beanie and a pair of fingerless gloves are essential for when the wind picks up.
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