Best places to visit for autumn colours in the UK

Places to Go

Best places to visit for autumn colours in the UK

As leaves turn from bright green to burnished gold and the temperatures start to drop to scarf weather, it’s time to welcome the most beautiful season.

Oh yes, autumn in the UK is a whirlwind for the senses, full of coppery colours, the sound of crunchy leaves underfoot, and warming mugs of hot chocolate cradled between chilly fingers. Think windswept walks along rugged cliffs and past unbelievably beautiful beaches, cosy pubs with flickering fires and Sunday roasts with Yorkshire puddings, and every shade of orange, red, and yellow imaginable.

Whether you love the dappled delights of a bronzed woodland, the far-flung heather-topped views of a dramatic moor, or an idyllic village with russet vines climbing towards thatched roofs, the UK has every autumnal scene imaginable and then some.

Feeling inspired? Here are some of our favourite places in the UK to visit for an unforgettable display of autumn colours…

 

Lanhydrock, Cornwall

The woods at Lanhydrock in Cornwall with leaves on the ground in autumn

Cornwall is home to many beautiful woodlands, all of which burst with fiery colour in the autumn months. Combining the rosy-gold hues of the trees with the quiet elegance of a historic home and tranquil garden, Lanhydrock and the surrounding woods make for an incredible wander (we also recommend visiting in the spring when the bluebells are on full display).

There are many beautiful walks and cycle paths around the woods and nearby Respryn River, providing endless opportunities to soak up the autumnal charms of the National Trust estate. If you’ve never tried forest bathing, a copper-dipped Cornish wood is the perfect place to start. Tehidy and Cardinham Woods are also worth a visit for a kaleidoscope of reddish hues.

 

Moor Crichel, Dorset

The famous path between two lines of trees at Moor Crichel in Autumn

From the stunning coastline dotted with natural landmarks and fossilised treasures to the patchwork of fields that make up the luscious countryside, Dorset is pretty as a picture throughout the year, but only in autumn does this tranquil county shrug off its green covers in favour of a warmer palette.

One of the most photographed spots in Dorset during autumn is the beloved tunnel of trees at Moor Crichel. The two neatly planted rows of red-yellow trees makes for an extraordinarily satisfying sight, and is best enjoyed on foot or by bike while exploring the Castleman Trailway.

 

Yorkshire Dales National Park, Yorkshire

The beautiful ruins of Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire in autumn, surrounded by orange trees

When it comes to beautiful sights, Yorkshire certainly boasts a lion’s share, with an astounding variety of far-reaching landscapes and historic sites. These eye-catching scenes are even more spectacular when coated in flaming colours, turning the whole National Park into a celebration of autumn.

Colt Park Wood and Oxenber and Wharfe Woods wait to wrap you in a leaf-strewn blanket, while the tumbling delights of Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar, and Aysgarth Falls offer a stunning contrast between the plunging falls and the coppery trees that line the water. Visit after heavy rainfall for a truly jaw-dropping highlight of your walk. Or, for a more historic visit, turn your boots towards Fountains Abbey, where the impressive ruins cut a spectacular silhouette before the burnished background.

 

Grasmere, Lake District

A bird's eye view of Rydal Water near Grasmere with autumnal trees running alongside the water

Reflected in the mirrored waters of the lake beneath, the russet forests surrounding Grasmere, Rydal Water, and Ambleside promise a view so nice you get it twice! There are many beautiful walks in the area, which boasts some of the best places to see autumn leaves in the UK.

Immerse yourself in the ochre scenes as you walk through the trees, or you can simply sit down by the water’s edge for a moment of true tranquillity. A little walk on from Grasmere sits the equally beautiful Rydal Water, offering countless opportunities for a fall photoshoot. Our advice? Stop by Grasmere first for some of their famous gingerbread and enjoy a setting and snack that can’t help but warm the soul. 

 

Broadway Tower, Cotswolds

A bird's eye view of Broadway Tower in autumn with the countryside sweeping around

With its honey-dipped villages, cobbled streets, and crawling vines, the Cotswolds already boasts a plucked-from-a-fairytale setting, but autumn really pulls out all the stops. Awash in hazel hedgerows and amber woodlands, the Cotswolds takes on a dreamy ambience as the countryside settles into its sepia season.

One of the best places to enjoy these dreamy colours is atop Broadway Tower, which boasts panoramic views of the copper countryside. The tower sits along the routes of many wonderful walks too, giving you the chance to stroll through the surrounding autumnal scenes as you head to your historic destination. There are some fabulous country pubs nearby in Broadway, offering the perfect spot to refuel after your autumnal amble.

 

Golitha Falls, Cornwall

The flowing waters of Golitha Falls in autumn

Melding an enchanting forest with a magical waterfall, Golitha Falls offers a spellbinding visit at any time of year. That being said, it’s hard to resist the chestnut charms of the ancient woods in the throws of autumn. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the reserve isn’t just for those looking for a seasonal snap or two.

Nature lovers will find many beautiful plants throughout the woods, as well as scurrying squirrels and splashing otters. The falls are located within the dramatic stretches of Bodmin Moor in North Cornwall, giving you every excuse to explore as much of this wild and wonderful corner of Cornwall as you please. We particularly recommend visiting the moors after dusk, as it’s one of the best stargazing spots in Cornwall, especially during autumn.

 

Glen Lyn Gorge, Devon

A river and water features arching over Glen Lyn Gorge in autumn, with orange trees

With a hearty mix of rugged moorland, golden beaches, and a network of oh-so-walkable countryside, Devon’s landscapes are as varied as they are beautiful, creating the perfect canvas on which autumn can paint. One such picture-perfect place is that of Lynmouth on Devon’s stunning north coast. Even painter Thomas Gainsborough described it as “the most delightful place for a landscape painter”.

While the pretty village is indeed worth a visit, the nearby Glen Lyn Gorge is what steals the show when summer fades into autumn. Waterfalls throw themselves down the tree-lined valley while water features add their own shimmering displays to the scene. With a symphony of yellows, oranges, and reds lighting up the foliage, it’s very easy to get lost in the moment when walking here – it also offers plenty of excuses to rest during any steeper climbs.

 

New Forest National Park, Hampshire

Looking through the autumnal trees with leaves on the ground at New Forest

Whether you want to watch deer emerge from early morning mists, the universally adored ponies graze as they blend into the foliage, or pigs snuffle their way through the underbrush, New Forest National Park in Hampshire is home to a wonderful display of nature, especially between September and November when the trees swap fresh greens for rich reds, oranges, and yellows.

An assortment of walks promises a variety of autumnal routes through the trees, while the likes of Exbury Gardens and Furzey Gardens beckon for delicate displays of colour (and cafés for a warming cup of coffee). The New Forest Walking & Cycling Festival takes place during October and November too, offering the perfect time to explore the National Park by foot and pedal alongside knowledgeable local guides.

 

Ashdown Forest, Sussex

Ashdown Forest flooded in autumnal colours

Sussex is famous for many things, from the creation of banoffee pie to its collection of impressive castles, but perhaps the most endearing is that it is the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh. Known far and wide as Pooh Woods, Ashdown Forest in East Sussex promises a magical destination especially when the leaves turn golden before drifting to the ground in carpets of umber.

There are many trails winding around the ancient trees, giving you a seemingly endless choice of woodland routes, whether you’re looking for a long and leisurely wander before stopping by a café for a hot chocolate or a short and sweet stroll that ends at Pooh Bridge, where the whole family can take part in a game of Pooh Sticks.

 

Sgwd-Clun-Gwyn Waterfall, Powys

The Sgwd-Clun-Gwyn waterfall on the Four Falls Walk in autumn

Where better to enjoy the harmonious blend of waterfall and woods than Waterfalls Country in the Brecon Beacons. As the name suggests, the Four Waterfalls Walk is the best way to uncover these extraordinary landmarks in autumn, as it takes you past each dramatic fall in one sepia-toned swoop.

Out of the four, Sgwd-Clun-Gwyn boasts the most dramatic outlook, with a crescent-shaped arc of thundering water providing an unforgettable foreground to the russet trees behind. It’s also the easiest of the waterfalls to access, giving you the choice to just visit one if you’re short on time and looking for a standout selfie.

 

Stourhead, Wiltshire

The lake at Stourhead surrounded with autumnal trees

Another of the UK’s best autumnal spots to make the most of shimmering reflections, the incredible combination of hazy hues and Palladian architecture creates a truly magical scene at Stourhead in Wiltshire. The lake offers a breathtaking vista for an afternoon stroll, while the iconic Temple of Apollo (made famous in Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice adaptation) promises a rather romantic spot, especially for a proposal!

You’ll find more classical temples in the landscape garden, while the 160-ft-tall Alfred’s Tower beckons for panoramic views that stretch over three counties – the perfect way to enjoy a bird’s eye view of autumn.

 

Glenfinnan, Scottish Highlands

A steam train on the Glenfinnan Viaduct in autumn

Perched at the head of Loch Shiel, Glenfinnan is a rather special hamlet in the Scottish Highlands. Not only is it surrounded by exceptionally beautiful scenery that shifts into melted gold with the change of the seasons, it’s also home to one of the most iconic landmarks in Scotland and fan-favourite filming locations, putting it firmly at the top of many people's to-do lists when visiting the Highlands.

Standing proud at 100ft tall, the Glenfinnan Viaduct would be striking enough on its own, but when backed by the harmony of autumnal hues it turns into a masterpiece of colour and drama. Stand atop the nearby hill by the Glenfinnan Monument for views across the viaduct, or take the train yourself to see the russet landscape from a different angle. 

 

Shanklin, Isle of Wight

The pretty thatched village of Shanlin on the Isle of Wight

Not only is the seaside village of Shanklin postcard-pretty, with thatched cottages nestled between flaming trees, it’s also home to the enchanting Shanklin Chine. Draped in blazing colours in autumn, this wooded valley and waterfalls have been attracting visitors for hundreds of years.

Towering bridges and walkways take you through an otherworldly landscape, with mossy rocks adding to the storybook atmosphere. The tree-covered gorge is also one of the best places to see red squirrels on the Isle of Wight, making it the perfect spot to get back to nature around the autumn equinox. 

 

Excited to make the most of the UK’s beautiful displays of orange and gold? Explore our cosy cottages across the country for your dream autumn holiday destination, from rural retreats to glorious cottages by the sea.

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