Top autumn colour walks to lift your spirits

At this time of year, there’s a palette of colours waiting to be discovered across breath-taking landscapes. Discover woodlands of golden leaves, glistening blue lakes, green flora and if you're lucky some red squirrels along the way. From bracing hikes over windswept moorlands to gentle woodland walks, there are trails to suit all tastes. Here's some of our most colourful walks to inspire you this autumn.

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

Cragside, Northumberland 

The Cragside estate has over seven million evergreens, which really stand out from their surroundings during autumn when other trees are losing their leaves. The Pinetum is a really special place at this time of year, and the perfect spot for an atmospheric wander.

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

Divis, County Antrim 

In autumn the landscape of Divis turns purple, covered in swathes of devil's-bit scabious which flowers from September to October. The curiously-named plant benefits from the rich mosaic of grassland heath and bog, which also plays host to a wide range of birdlife including red grouse, stonechats, and peregrine falcons.

a stunning autumn view through the trees looking down on the abbey ruins of fountains abbey
Walking trail

Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire 

Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 disillusioned Benedictine monks from York. Now a crumbling ruin, the remains make an impressive sight - especially when they’re surrounded by bright reds, oranges and golds from the autumnal foliage. This route will take you around the boundary of the estate with fantastic views of the Abbey – particularly from the Temple of Fame where the river and ruins lie at your feet.

The avenue of Beech trees leading to Kingston Lacy
Walking trail

Kingston Lacy, Dorset 

This walk takes you down a network of droves and along the stunning 1835 Beech Avenue. The tree canopy forms a beautiful tunnel of russet colour during the autumn months. We're working to conserve this stunning visual landmark by replacing lost beeches with hornbeam trees, which also provide beautiful autumn colour, but are more suited to the British climate. Make sure to stop by the formal garden to catch the last of the colourful herbaceous borders and the show stopping Japanese Acer trees.

Low cloud draped over the Shropshire Hills
Walking trail

Long Mynd, Shropshire 

Autumn might just be the best season for walking on the Long Mynd. The hills turn to rusty shades of red and brown, the streams begin to flow faster and cloud inversions mean early morning walkers can be rewarded by the sight of a sea of fog at their feet. This walk takes you round to the quieter, west side of the hill – and you can even stop at The Bridges pub half way round if you need to refuel.

A stream rushes through Padley woods
Walking trail

Longshaw, Derbyshire 

The Longshaw estate offers some of the best walking country in the Peak District, with ancient woods, tumbling streams and old sunken holloways. During autumn you can wander across the high heather moors turned russet and brown, or head down to Padley Gorge where the trees are gold and red, and the Burbage Brook tumbles over gritstone rocks.

The lantern in autumn at Lyme, Cheshire
Walking trail

Lyme, Cheshire 

This route takes you off the beaten path to some of the lesser-explored areas of the estate. Along the way you’ll be treated to sweeping views over the woodlands and surrounding moorlands, all ablaze with the colours of autumn. You might also encounter Lyme's herd of red deer, who often spend their time in the east of the park.

Autumn at Minnowburn bridge, County Down
Walking trail

Minnowburn, County Down 

Set of the outskirts of Belfast, Minnowburn is a tranquil landscape of woodland and farmland cut through by a flowing river. Take a wander to discover the estate, rising up through the woods of beech, ash, oak and hazel that turn burnished gold and red in the autumn months. Eventually you’ll emerge beside a huge and ancient earth henge, known as the Giant's Ring.

Petworth House and Park deer
Walking trail

Petworth, West Sussex 

What better time of year than autumn to marvel at some of the oldest and largest trees in the country? Petworth Park is dotted with ancient gnarled specimens, including an oak that has survived here since the 12th century and still puts on a spectacular show of colour every year. With over 700 acres of parkland explore you’ll be spoilt for choice for places to explore, but the Ancient Tree Walks trail will help you find some of the best spots to enjoy the autumnal display.

Bridge amongst the trees at Rheadr Ddu, Ganllwyd
Walking trail

Rhaeadr Ddu, Gwynedd 

This is a great waterside walk, taking you alongside the turbulent River Gamlan and past the magnificent Rhaeadr Ddu waterfalls. They look different every time you visit, depending on rainfall, weather and light.

Valley in the mist
Walking trail

Sheringham Park, Norfolk 

This seven mile walk will lead you through fields, woodland and across cliffs beside the sea – with plenty of opportunity to drink in the autumn colour. See the fiery leaves of golden larch and Japanese maple dancing in the breeze, crunch through the leaf litter and spot wildlife feeding up on autumn berries in preparation for winter.

Stackpole's woodland footpath in autumn
Walking trail

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire 

Once a grand private estate, Stackpole is now fully open to explore and provides access to stretches some of the UK’s most beautiful stretches of coastline. Take a bracing stroll along the wind-swept clifftops, or meander your way among the woods at the edge of the Bosherston Lily Ponds, where the branches will be bursting with bright autumn foliage. If you’re really lucky you might even spot an otter.

The Pantheon seen from across the lake in the winter at Stourhead, Wiltshire
Walking trail

Stourhead, Wiltshire 

This five mile walk takes you up through beautiful woodlands to King Alfred’s Tower, a 160ft high folly designed for Stourhead’s owner Henry Hoare II in 1772. On a crisp, sunny autumn day you’ll be able to catch the sunlight gleaming through the trees, making the bright autumn foliage even more fiery. Don’t forget to wander through the famous landscape garden to see deep hues of red, russet and yellow reflected in the lake. If you need a refresher after all that walking, why not seek out the Gothic Cottage nestled among the trees, where you can pick up a warming drink or tasty snack.

The Sugar Loaf surrounded by autumn trees, Monmouthshire, South Wales
Walking trail

Sugar Loaf, Monmouthshire 

St Mary’s Vale is dominated by oak and beech trees, but it doesn’t look quite like your average wood. While a few trees have attempted to grow straight, most have taken on strange, twisted forms that resemble something out of a Tolkien novel. Listen out for the gentle trickle of the Nant Iago stream, before taking the steep climb up to the summit of Sugar Loaf – where you’ll be rewarded with views over a sea of burnished reds, oranges and golds.

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

Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire 

Wicken Fen may not have any woodland, but it’s still possible to see stunning autumn colour on a walk around the reserve. In September the sedge turns an amazing russet colour, which becomes golden in the evenings as the setting sun illuminates the leaves. During the Second World War Dig for Victory campaign, the war office turned the fen into arable land. Restoration of the area is now being carried out, and every visit you make to Wicken Fen helps us to care for the plants and wildlife that have made a home here.

Autumn colour at Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey
Walking trail

Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey 

During the autumn months the splendour of Winkworth Arboretum really comes to life with rich, blazing colour from the Japanese, American and Norwegian maples. This two and a half mile walk weaves its way through the woodland to the top of Hydon's Ball, where you can enjoy spectacular views across the Surrey landscape. From here the route carries on to the charming village of Hambledon where you will discover Oakhurst Cottage, a delightful 16th-century labourer's home which has remained largely unchanged for the past hundred years or more.