With the sudden drop in temperatures and the flash of orange pumpkins adorning the supermarket aisles, it is safe to say that autumn has officially arrived in Dorset. It’s the season of open fires, hot chocolate, toasting marshmallows, fireworks and walking through the crunch of autumn leaves.
Dorset and Wiltshire have an impressive array of autumn colours to tempt you to wrap up in your warmest layers and head out with the dog to earn a nice hot toddy.
Perhaps the most famous spot to watch the changing colours is Stourhead Gardens. This Wiltshire based National Trust site is one of England’s greatest landscaped gardens. You can feel like the only person in the world here, with the world-famous gardens stretching over 2,650 acres. The abundance of trees means that you really will be transported to an auburn retreat, as the changing colours completely surround you. Dogs are welcome in the garden after 4pm on short fixed leads from March to November. The Spread Eagle Inn in the courtyard is the perfect place to warm up after a good walk around the gardens.
Continuing our National Trust journey, Kingston Lacy is another stunning location in which to immerse yourself within the autumn colours. The country house and estate is near Wimborne Minster in Dorset and was once the seat of the Bankes family, who lived at nearby Corfe Castle until its destruction in the English Civil War. The 12 acres of gardens provide stunning views with ornate statues and features hidden around every corner, and the stable cafe provides a warming cup of hot chocolate to bring the feeling back to your fingers and toes.
Following the road through Dorset into the Isle of Purbeck, Corfe Castle is a fantastic vantage point from which to see the colours change through the valley. The surrounding village also provides a unique range of independent shops, pubs and cafes, so you can stay well refreshed before and after your walk. This site is also owned by the National Trust so isn’t free to go in but dogs are welcome as long as they are on a short lead.
Tucked away in a small corner of Dorset, you will find the picturesque cottage where Thomas Hardy was born in 1840, set in beautiful gardens. The surrounding woods are flush with the autumn colours and the gardens smell incredible during this time of year. Step back in time inside the warm parlour with its open fire and see where Hardy wrote some of his first poems whilst enjoying the peace and quiet.
Our autumn journey brings us full circle back to Wiltshire, and my favourite place Old Wardour Castle. This romantic ruin never fails to disappoint, no matter what the weather, but in autumn there is something about the relaxed atmosphere and autumn colours that make you want to sit and stare for hours at the impressive former Arundel family home, with a hot coffee in hand. Dogs are welcome on leads and the surrounding woods provide beautiful walks if you fancy exploring that little bit further.