The arrival of autumn in the UK is no reason to despair. Sure, it makes our almost entirely alfresco social lives a little trickier to maintain but we can make it work. There are crisp bright mornings, cosy evenings and pubs with open fires to look forward to. Not forgetting great swathes of yellow, orange and brown leaves to admire.
Mid-to-late-October is the best time to see autumn leaves in the UK, and these parks and woodlands are about to become the most scenic spots for super-wholesome, socially distanced strolls. See ya on the other side, summer.
Autumn goes way over the top at this Cotswold garden. Westonbirt Arboretum is home to thousands of tree species from all over the globe, and they put on an incredible display of golds, pinks, glowing reds and vibrant yellows as autumn hoves into view. Don’t miss Acer Glade or Maple Loop for extra eye-popping hues.
Mar Lodge Estate, Aberdeenshire
A nature reserve in the middle of the Cairngorms might just be the perfect place to soak up the season in Scotland. It’s the largest such reserve in Britain, and contains four of the five highest mountains in the UK. It’s also an autumnal wonderland, with lochs and evergreen forests framed by miles of glorious colour.
RHS Wisley, Surrey
Seasonal events are off this year at Wisley but that won’t stop the trees and shrubs from showing off. Visit in October and November to crunch leaves underfoot and enjoy gaudy foliage in the garden’s Pinetum and Seven Acres sections.
Photograph: Nigel Jarvis / Shutterstock.com
Burnt orange and golden brown leaves are in abundance at Stourhead, a huge, historical landscaped garden dotted with follies, temples and rare trees. Find forest floors covered in leaves ideal for kicking and cosy spots for picnics on dry days.
The ancient woodlands of the New Forest National Park are spectacular all year round, but there’s something extra atmospheric about them in autumn. Take the Knightwood Oak or Bolderwood Radnor walking trails to see a dazzling panoply of orangey shades.
Photograph: Tan Zi Han / Shutterstock.com
Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey
Winkworth Arboretum is one colourful garden. Famous for its blaze of blooms in late spring, the landscape turns technicolour in the colder months as well. The liquidambar and maple trees are the boldest, but look out for bright berries and fungi too.
Coombe Hill, Buckinghamshire
You can get a stellar view of the Chiltern Hills in all their autumnal glory from the crest of Coombe Hill. In fact, on a clear day you can see all the way to the Cotswolds. Once you’ve had your fill, tackle one of the many nearby walking trails taking you through a canopy of golden beech trees or the moss-covered Low Scrubs woodland at the foot of the hill.
Kielder Forest, Northumberland
A vast woodland that runs along the border between England and Scotland, Kielder Forest is scored with walking trails that take in the area’s dramatic and vibrant scenery. Fancy staying after dark? Head to the Kielder Observatory to cop a look at the autumn night sky, free from light pollution.
Grizedale Forest, Cumbria
Grizedale Forest becomes a patchwork of autumnal shades at this time of year. Backed by mountains and glassy lakes, the woodland in the Lake District National Park boasts an enticing array of walks that take in ancient beech trees, quiet valleys and crags with views of the ever-changing scenery.