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 are some of our most colourful walks to inspire you this autumn.

Red squirrel on Brownsea Island, Dorset
Walking trail

Brownsea, Dorset 

Brownsea’s unspoiled landscape provides a peaceful haven for visitors seeking a bit of autumn colour. From sweet chestnuts and beeches to hazel trees and scarlet oaks from North America, there are a whole range of bright hues to enjoy. Even the local wildlife adds to the vibrant atmosphere, with migrant redstarts and the local population of red squirrels as the stars of the show. This easy walk will take you round the island to enjoy all the delights of the season, with sweeping coastal views thrown in for good measure.

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

Stourhead, Wiltshire 

This 5 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. It is believed to mark the site where King Alfred the Great rallied his troops in 878. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the spectacular views across the lake in the landscape garden, with the deep autumnal hues of red, russet and yellow from the surrounding trees.

The orange leaves of a tree in autumn
Walking trail

Nant Gwynant, Snowdonia 

The woodlands at Nant Gwynant are mostly ancient oak and ash, which turn a lovely orange in the autumn. As autumn moves on the bracken above the treeline also turns to shades of russet, set off by the glow of sunsets in the early evening.

A close up picture of vivid yellow leaves in autumn
Walking trail

Yellow at Speke Hall, Liverpool 

The Clough is Speke Hall's ancient beech and oak woodland, which turns to vibrant shades of yellow and russet during the autumn months. Even the shrubs are dotted with bright spots of colour, from red haws and rosehips to crab apples. If you visit on a crisp autumn day you might get to experience the heightened glow of the leaves as the low light shines through the trees.

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

Green at 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.

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 2.5 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.

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 the National Trust to care for the plants and wildlife that have made a home here.

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.