While many people are mourning the loss of summer, at GBE we love a bit of autumn weather – the colours changing in the trees, the blustery wind blowing around clouds of falling leaves and the sun taking on a warm glow of the changing seasons.
Here are our suggestions of some of our favourite places in Britain to make the most of this fantastic season.
Stourhead is one of the most famously beautiful landscaped gardens in Britain and, as the leaves change colour and the autumn sunlight reflects the whole picture in the lake, it is hard to imagine a prettier scene.
Run by the National Trust, there are lots of ways to make the most of a visit at this time of year – volunteers run daily ‘autumn walks’ to show you the best of the gardens and autumn events include an ‘autumn leaves trail’, for you to get the most out of your visit at this time of year, ‘the Big Draw’ on 6 October with arty events all around the grounds, and ‘Apple Day’ on 20 October when the farm shop with have lots of produce made from apples from the estate to sample.
Lake District Forests
The Lake District is most renowned for its rugged mountain tops, but in autumn its forests can match the fells for drama and beauty.
Grisedale and Whinlatter, the two large forests managed by the Forestry Commission, are fantastic days out at any time of year, with miles and miles of well-maintained paths for hiking and mountain biking (experienced riders only at Whinlatter, England’s only mountain forest), as well as tree-tops courses, segways, orienteering and sculptures, and activity trails and play areas for younger visitors.
However, in the autumn, the forests take on a more dramatic and atmospheric look, as yellows, oranges and reds spread across the trees and rusting leaves cover the paths, making it the perfect time to visit.
Some of the Lakes’ less well-known woodland, such as Dodd Wood, most famous for its Osprey lookout point, and Ennerdale Forest, are other great autumnal outings.
While Loch Lomond and the area around it sometimes gets overshadowed by the drama and rugged terrain of the Highlands to the north, in the autumn this area, and particularly the National Nature Reserve near Balamha on the eastern side of the loch and the vast Great Trossachs Forest to the north, can rival the beauty of its northerly neighbours.
The gentle 1.5 mile ‘Millennium Forest Trail’ from Balmaha is a great starting point or, for something more testing, hike up Ben Venue in the Great Trossachs Forest for views across the area. Gentler walking trails, a play trail and walks to spots that inspired literary greats are also available, as well as a loch-side café for some refreshment!
The New Forest
Although large parts of the New Forest National Park are no longer actually forested, the sections that are are home to some of Britain’s oldest and most impressive trees – 800 year old oaks, 400 year old beech trees and yews that can beat them both! The autumnal colours make the area truly beautiful and the history of the place can be felt in the atmosphere; a feeling that is only added to by stumbling across pigs roaming the forest floor for fallen acorns!
Autumn also sees the New Forest host its annual walking festival, this year from 13 to 28 October, when many themed guided walks can be joined (advance booking recommended), and its Food and Drink week, taking place between 29 October and 4 November.
Arboretums are, of course, at their best during autumn and Britain has many excellent ones to visit all over the country. A couple of our favourites are Wesonbirt National Aroretum in the Cotswolds, a vast collection of over 15,000 tree specimens with a tree-top walkway and lots of activities for the whole family; and Thorpe Perrow Arboretum on the eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales. As well as a stunning collection of trees turning a beautiful variety of colours this season, the arboretum has a birds of prey and mammal centre and an excellent playground to keep the children entertained.
A visit to Thorpe Perrow can easily be combined with a trip to the wonderful gardens at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, which also put on a magical display at this time of year.
For more ideas on where to visit this autumn or help planning your holiday in Britain, please do not hesitate to get in touch.