Top autumn colour walks to lift your spirits

Autumn colour is everywhere at our places, and going for a walk is a great way to enjoy it. A study into autumn colour that we carried out as part of a Great British Walk shows that a walk this time of year can make us feel happier, healthier and calmer. To help you make the most of the palette of colour we've enlisted the help of some autumn walking experts.

Red squirrel on Brownsea Island, Dorset

Red at Brownsea, Dorset

Red grabs our attention and helps stimulate the senses.

'Red really is the colour for Brownsea Island in the autumn' says our ranger, John Lamming. 'We have ornamental red and scarlet oaks, migrant redstarts, the common red darter dragonfly and red admiral and peacock butterflies. We've around 200 red squirrels on Brownsea and autumn is the best time of year to see them. They raise two broods of youngsters so numbers are at their peak, and squirrels don't hibernate, so they are busy gathering and caching food to see them through the winter.'

Route: 1 mile (easy)

The orange leaves of a tree in autumn
Walking

Orange at Nant Gwynant, Snowdonia 

Orange is the colour of our survival instincts.

'There's a lot of woodland here,’ says Nant Gwynant community ranger, Simon Rodgers. ‘Mostly ancient oak and ash which turn a lovely orange in the autumn. Above the tree line there is a lot of bracken and that turns the same colour as autumn moves on. The sunsets come a little earlier and you have the orange glow in the early evening. You can get some lovely sunsets, though they are usually best with just a few clouds around.’

Route: 3.75 miles (moderate)

A close up picture of vivid yellow leaves in autumn
Walking

Yellow at Speke Hall, Liverpool 

Yellow is a colour that really lifts confidence and encourages our optimism.

'There's yellow in virtually everything around Speke Hall in autumn,' says our lead ranger, Ian Ford. 'The trees will have yellow leaves in the Clough, our ancient woodland of beech and oak. All the shrubs and berries seem to go through yellow in the autumn. Rosehips go yellow through to red and the haws get a rush of yellow colour, as do the crab apples. If you're here on a nice autumn day you get the light coming through at low level it shines through the leaves and just heightens the yellow colour, it really makes it glow.'

Route: 1.8 miles (moderate)

A burn and coniferous forest and its reflection in a lake
Walking

Green at Cragside, Northumberland 

Green restores the balance in our mind, body and emotions, which helps us feel more restful.

'Everything here is green in the autumn,’ says our head ranger, Duncan Norman. ‘Across the estate we've seven million trees. When the leaves are falling off the trees elsewhere it's nice to have somewhere that retains the colour across the whole landscape. Cragside has got the sense of Jurassic Park in autumn. The Pinetum is a really special place at this time of year. You can have a slow meander though it in 20 minutes and it's really atmospheric.’

Route: 2 miles (moderate)

Mass of reeds and wind pump beyond at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire
Walking

Russet at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire 

Russet is dark reddish-brown; rooted in the earth itself it makes us feel safe and grounded.

'The sedge turns an amazing russet colour at Wicken Fen in the autumn,’ says our senior ranger, John Hughes. ‘It's a truly wonderful sight, there is sedge as far as the eye can see. The land is flat, and the sun sets a little lower in the sky so the sunsets fill the sky with colour. If you get it just right on the day then it’s stunning. The sedge is illuminated by the sun. It's an iconic landscape. We often tell people late in the day that if they've just finished their walk they should hang around until sunset and they won't be disappointed.'

Route: 0.75 miles (easy)

The Long Mynd and undulating moorland hills at the head of Carding Mill Valley, Shropshire
Walking

Blue at Carding Mill Valley, Shropshire 

Blue gives us time to think, it clears our minds and helps us to concentrate.

‘The Shropshire Hills are closely linked to the colour blue, says Emily Knight, our conservation manager. ‘It’s thanks to A E Housman's poem, A Shropshire Lad, in which he talks of the 'Blue Remembered Hills'. There's a kind of meteorological phenomenon as it's the light more than anything else that really strikes the Carding Mill visitors. We've really dark skies, with little light pollution, so in the autumn as the nights draw in, you can get that dark blue colour as night falls. For a lot of visitors this can all be a surprise. They come out of Church Stretton, cross a cattle grid and suddenly these incredible hills are in front of them.’

Route: 1.5 miles (moderate)

A close-up view of a purple devil's-bit scabious flower
Walking

Purple at Divis, County Antrim 

Purple helps with inspiration and imagination. It’s a strong colour but an unsociable one, it signals the wish to be left alone.

‘The colour purple dominates the mountain of Divis in the autumn,' says our property manager, Dermot McCann. 'In particular, the purple-coloured and wonderfully named devil's-bit scabious, which carpets much of the landscape through September until October. We get the flower all over the property, from the front gate to the back gate. You don't have any problem spotting it. It benefits from the rich mosaic of habitats we have here. It's a curious looking plant, with its purple head and the antlers sticking out of it. People ask me what it's called and when I tell them it's a great conversation starter.’

Route: 4.2 miles (moderate)