Walks through colourful heathland

Coastal heathland in Dunwich

Didn't think purple was a summer and autumn colour? Think again. Weaving gently gently through the haze of heather, you'll catch shades ranging from the deepest beetroot to gentle mauve.

It's not just the spectrum of colours that makes heathland special. The landscape is also an invaluable habitat to an array of specialised wildlife.

Endangered ground nesting birds, nationally rare reptiles, a myriad of insects and diverse plant life all rely upon the continued careful management of this habitat by our rangers.

A mountain hare on Stainery Moor in the Peaks
mountain hare, stainery moor, peak district
A mountain hare on Stainery Moor in the Peaks

Autumn on the heathland is a particular favourite of Jacob White, Community Ranger of the New Forest Northern Commons. His seasonal highlights include 'the swathes of rich colours you get, and the crisp early mornings.' It is a busy time for the ranger team here with tree and shrub management taking up most of their time.

Their efforts really pay off as the landscape and wildlife benefits from annual conservation work. Every time you visit the heathland for a peaceful walk, you are helping us look after this special place for the whole year. 

" Heathlands are a carpet of harmonious colours, like an artist has set down their palette on the landscape. It instils a sense of serenity in those who walk here. "
- Phil Neagle, ranger for Cheshire and Wirral Countryside

Where will you visit? 

Brimham Rocks National Trust

Moorland & meadows walk at Brimham Rocks, Yorkshire 

See the magnificent long distance views, and if you pick a sunny, clear autumn day you may even see York Minster. Stumble upon fantastic pondlife, tree stumps of all shapes and sizes and vibrant heather in the Yorkshire Dales.

A women walking through the heathland at Dunwich Heath

Dunwich Heath, Suffolk 

Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, Dunwich Heath offers you peace and quiet and a true sense of being at one with nature. A rare and precious habitat, the heath is home to special species such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark, ant-lion, adders and much more.

Godrevy, Cornwall

Godrevy to Hell’s Mouth coastal walk, Cornwall 

Exhilarating cliff-top pathways and glorious ocean views. This route takes you around Godrevy headland to the dramatic Hell's Mouth and back again, taking in the wonderful heathland of the Knavocks.

Heddon Valley National Trust

Heddon Valley to Woody Bay Walk, North Devon 

A varied walk that follows an historic 19th-century carriageway and a section of the South West Coast Path along some of the highest and most dramatic cliffs in England. The views along the coastal heathland and across to Wales are breathtaking.

Holt Heath in Wimborne Dorset

Holt Heath at Kingston Lacy, Dorset 

This walk explores this important lowland heath, which is one of the largest areas of its type in Dorset. It's part of the wider Kingston Lacy estate and is cared for by our rangers. Local plants include common heather, bell heather, cross-leaved heath, bog asphodel, sundews and marsh gentian. For reptile enthusiasts, all six of Britain's reptile species can be found here.

Restored heathland at Hartland Moor

Heathland trail at Kniver, Staffordshire 

This circular walk starts at the old Warden's Lodge, passing through rare heathland habitat to sweeping views from the Iron Age Hill Fort. Look out for wildlife in this diverse habitat as well as a spectrum of autumn colour.

New Forest National Trust

Walk to the Huff Duff, Hampshire 

The ‘Huff Duff’ trail takes walkers across a classic New Forest landscape - wide expanses of ancient heathland - as well as mire, grassland and woods. The trail takes in spectacular open views, and in early autumn, the delicate honey scent and sight of acres of purple heather. Later, the Forest’s silver birch trees develop fluttering canopies of buttery-yellow foliage and fungi in a myriad of shapes and colours appear. Look out for rare bird species like the Dartford warbler, and herds of ponies.

Murlough National Nature Reserve butterfly discover

Upland heath at Slieve Donard, Mourne Mountains 

The Montane heath vegetation, a Northern Ireland Priority Habitat, on the summit of Slieve Donard with a small area also on Slieve Commedagh includes some interesting and first recordings for Northern Ireland of the dwarf willow, feeding sawfly and two predatory ground beetles.

Rhossili heathland

Rhossili Down, Swansea 

Challenge yourself to walk to the highest point in Gower to enjoy the last blast of colour as the heath on Rhossili Down comes to life this autumn, before descending onto one of the most iconic beaches in Wales at Rhossili.