Best walks for autumn highlights

Autumn is a time of wonder when the natural world turns a kaleidoscope of colour and landscapes come alive with wildlife activity. Exploring the parks, coast and countryside we look after on foot is a great way to experience this magical time of year, and there are lots of different autumn highlights to enjoy from our walking trails.

Please note that not all places or car parks will be open and some walking trails may have changed due to social distancing guidance in order to maintain visitor safety. Please check the property homepage for the trail you'd like to explore before travelling.

Which places are open?

  • More than 100 gardens and parks are open in England and Northern Ireland. To avoid disappointment please book in advance, especially at busier times such as weekends, school holidays and bank holidays 
  • Many historic houses are open in England. If you book a ticket for an open garden or park, you may also be able to visit the house. Visits to the houses are limited to ensure safe, social distancing and so we can't guarantee you’ll be able to view the house on the day you visit 
  • We’ve opened many of our cafés and shops at these places to help make your visit feel as close to normal as possible 
  • Hundreds of coast and countryside car parks are open in England and Northern Ireland and most don’t need to be booked 

What's closed?  

  • In line with Welsh Government legislation and the 'fire break' lockdown, all our places in Wales will temporarily close from Saturday 24 October to Monday 9 November  
  • Following the latest official guidance, all National Trust houses in Northern Ireland are now closed. All cafés in Northern Ireland are now takeaway only  

Before visiting, please always check local and national government guidance on travelling. You can check the property webpage in case of local restrictions. We're following government advice closely and will reopen more places as soon as we can. 

Autumn leaves with the sunshine lighting them up

Find your calm on an autumn walk

Walking outdoors during autumn can restore a sense of calm. Feel the freshness of the cooler air, hear the birds sing in the trees as the leaves rustle beneath your feet and see the colours transform as the season changes. Everyone needs nature to feel calmer, and you can escape to a world of colour and peace during autumn. Forget your busy life when you take a walk through an autumn forest near you.

What's the best time to see autumn leaves in the UK?

Officially, autumn equinox is 22 September. The best time to start looking for that first tint of autumn is mid-September, and depending on where you are autumn colour often reaches its peak from mid-late October. Get wrapped up warm and spot those splashes of colour.

Autumn walks near me

What causes the leaves to change in autumn?

These autumnal colours don't come about by accident — behind the hues lies a careful balance of natural environmental reactions, resulting in the palette you'll see in special places this autumn.

The development of autumn colour begins its process according to the conditions of the seasons that come before. It’s the steady decrease in sunlight hours during September and October that triggers green leaf chlorophyll to break down, revealing dazzling autumn tones below.

Throughout the year, factors like temperature, moisture and sunlight all contribute to the vibrancy of the autumn colours. A wet spring, a hot summer, followed by sunny autumn days and frosty nights usually makes for a dazzling leaf display.

Blackbird on a fence at Sheringham Park, Norfolk

Autumn nature and wildlife to look out for

There are lots of animals feeding up in the woods before winter. Badgers feed on berries, nuts and fungi. Deer will also eat acorns and fruit to supplement their diet.

Birds grow new winter coats. You might see a sleek dark blackbird with a spotty brown head or a white-spotted winter-plumaged starling with the pale brown head of a youngster.

Autumn is a great time to forage for seeds. Heavier nuts such as hazelnuts, acorns, beechnuts and conkers rely on squirrels or jays to spread them around the woodland.

The deer in Knole Park

Autumn wildlife walks 

Autumn is the time some of the UK’s most impressive wildlife activities take place including deer ruts, seal pupping and the arrival of over-wintering birds – spectacles unique to autumn. You can also spot fungi of all shapes, colours and textures on woodland floors and on the trees.

How you can help support nature

Love spotting nature out on your favourite autumn forest walk? There’s plenty you can do at home to support wildlife. Nature needs you more than ever – together, we can help it to thrive. Discover how you can help by taking simple steps, like building a bug hotel, planting a tree or supporting our causes.