Is it the crunch of leaves underfoot, the pleasant temperatures, or the vast mosaic of reds, oranges, and yellows that makes walking in the autumn so wonderful? Perhaps it’s simply the knowledge that winter will soon be here, which encourages many of us to spend time out in the fresh air now.
Regardless of what you enjoy about it, with so many forests, woodlands, and natural spaces that only increase in beauty come the end of September, the UK is the perfect place for an autumnal ramble.
To help inspire you on where to go, we’ve put together this list of 14 of the UK’s best autumn walks.
1. Ashridge, Hertfordshire
Nestled deep in the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding National Beauty, Ashridge Estate offers 5,000 acres of ancient woodland and lush meadows.
This enchanting place is famous for its stately home and majestic beech trees. It’s a perfect spot to admire the changing of the seasons. Plus, by taking a trip to the top of the towering Bridgewater Monument, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the countryside below.
There are over 80 miles of footpath to explore in and around the area. Although, the Autumn Colours ranger led walk is perfectly plotted so you can really take in the breathtaking transformation of the Estate.
2. Glenariff Forest Park, County Antrim
There’s something calming and restorative about taking a walk through nature accompanied by the rushing of flowing water. At Glenariff Forest Park, the contrast of the warm autumn colours with the lively waterfalls and rivers is truly something to behold.
Known as ‘the Queen of the Glens’, there are countless trails to follow at Glenariff. The Scenic Trail is popular among serious ramblers. Starting and finishing in the car park, this 5.5-mile route takes you over footbridges, along the edges of steep-sided river gorges, and across winding timber boardwalks. It’ll show you almost everything that this magical place has to offer.
Though, if you’re looking for something short and sweet, the Gorge Walk and Waterfall Trail packs in as many sights as possible in just a couple of miles.
3. Glenfinnan, Highland
The trails you’ll find in Glenfinnan in the Highlands of Scotland offer a different type of autumnal walk.
Featuring stunning vistas of vast auburn slopes and Loch Shiel’s glass-like waters, the famous Viaduct Trail gives you an impressive taste of what this area has to offer.
The short 2.5-mile route takes you up the banks of the glen and past snow-capped mountains. One of the highlights is when the path threads through the grand arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which has become world-famous due to its appearances in the Harry Potter films.
4. Stourhead, Wiltshire
Heading for a walk at Stourhead in Wiltshire offers a less wild, more quaint autumn experience.
Although beautiful all year round, this stunning landscape garden really comes into its own from mid-October, as the hazel-coloured trees and white stone temples are reflected in the lake’s mirror surface.
There are a number of routes at Stourhead to choose from, though King Alfred’s Tower walk is particularly popular. This circular trail takes you through the garden, around the lake, and further afield into the surrounding woods and countryside.
The focal point of the walk is the tower itself; a striking monolith set upon a hill and flanked by thick forest. You can climb the steps to the top and admire the autumnal countryside below.
5. Nant Gwynant Valley, Gwynedd
Carved by a glacier thousands of years ago, the Nant Gwynant Valley in Snowdonia National Park is another excellent choice for a scenic autumnal walk. Set near the foot of Mount Snowdon, there’s plenty of natural beauty to see whether it’s a bright, clear day or the clouds are set low over the valley.
It’s worth going on the 2.2-mile Dinas Emrys walk. This trail takes you through amber woodland, past shimmering waterfalls, and up the heather-strewn hill that it’s believed Merlin once walked for picture-perfect views of Nant Gwynant.
Other highlights of the walk include the wild goats you can see clambering the hillside and the sentry-like presence of the dragon who sleeps under the Dinas Emrys hill according to Welsh folklore.
6. Allen Banks, Northumberland
If you find yourself in the North East of England, why not head for a seasonal stroll along the banks of the River Allen? Surrounded by an impressive, semi-natural ornamental forest in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this is a top location to witness the changing of the seasons.
You’ll find plenty of marked trails here but the Allen Banks Morralee Tarn walk is particularly popular among visitors. This takes you along the babbling banks of the river before cutting into the yellow, orange, and red coloured woodland.
If you’re looking for wildlife, you’re likely to find it here. You can spot over 70 species of birds on the banks of the Allen and the surrounding woodland, as well as other rare wildlife, like red squirrels.
7. The Hermitage, Perthshire
Home to towering Douglas firs, some of the tallest trees in the UK, a roaring waterfall, and plenty of history, the Hermitage in Perthshire is an ideal spot for an autumn walk.
A pleasure ground for the Dukes of Atholl in the 1700s, this enchanting patch of Scottish forest is popular among serious walkers and leisurely ramblers alike.
The Hermitage and Braan Walk is a particular favourite. Starting at Ossian’s Hall, an 18th-century folly, this route takes you past Black Linn Falls, over the famous Rumbling Bridge, and through the magical woodland.
8. Castlewellan Forest Park, County Down
Just to the north of the legendary Mourne Mountains lies Castlewellan Forest Park; over a thousand acres of lush green forestland that really dazzles when the autumn season rolls around.
For serious walkers, the Slievenaslat walk involves a steep trek up through the russet forest before giving way to spectacular views of Dundrum Bay below and the imposing Mourne Mountains in the distance.
Or, if you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, why not give the Lakeside walk a try? This relatively flat, two-mile loop follows the banks of Castlewellan Lake. The reflection of the trees in the still waters offers a breathtaking display of autumn colour.
9. Teign Gorge, Devon
One of the most treasured walking trails in Dartmoor National Park, if not the whole of the South East, is the Teign Gorge classic circuit. This route combines peaceful riverside paths with sweeping moorland views.
Beginning high on the hill at Castle Drogo (the last castle built in the UK), the Teign Gorge walk winds down into an enchanting wooded valley that explodes with colours once autumn arrives.
Over the centuries, the woodland here has struggled under the pressures of hunting, logging, and the planting of non-native conifers. Although, during the past decade, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust have been working to restore it to its former glory; making it one of the largest woodland restoration projects around.
Highlights of this walk include the stunning views at Sharp Tor and watching for salmon and trout at Fingle Bridge.
10. Lews Castle, Isle of Lewis
Overlooking the harbour town of Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides, stands Lews Castle; a grand, Victorian-era stately home surrounded by 600 acres of lush gardens and woodland. This is a must-visit if you find yourself on the Isle of Lewis in autumn.
You can follow the Castle Grounds route under overhanging amber beeches and stately golden elms. Though it’s a relatively easy walk along well-maintained paths, there are various rewards along the way, including plenty of views of the harbour.
Starting in the centre of Stornoway, the route finishes on the hill at the castle, where you can walk the gilded halls or stop for a well-deserved coffee at the cafe.
11. Rhossili Bay, West Glamorgan
For something a little different, why not head to Rhossili Bay for an autumn ramble? Coastal walks aren’t just for spring and summer, and exploring cliffside trails in October and November can make for a wild, windswept adventure with plenty of unique views.
In the summer, the cliffs here are strewn with vibrant lilac heather, but by autumn, the bay has an entirely new, but no less beautiful character.
The Rhossili Bay Headland walk is a somewhat challenging but rewarding trail, offering exquisite views along the coastline. This route takes you around the headland and past the remains of an Iron Age Fort. If the tide permits, you can even walk out to Worm’s Head; a thin, rocky ribbon of land that’s cut off from the mainland at high tide.
12. Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
Said to be the stomping ground of the legendary hero/outlaw Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the spectacular colours of autumn.
Covering over 1,000 acres, Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve offers countless walking trails of different lengths and difficulty.
There’s the laidback Giants Trail, which is under a mile long and threads through some of the biggest ancient oaks in the forest; and the four-miles Wildwood Trail which is ideal for keen walkers. It aims to show you the different habitats that Sherwood Forest offers, from wide open heathland to wooded pastures.
13. Corrieshalloch Gorge, Highlands
Corrieshalloch takes its name from Gaelic, meaning ‘ugly hollow’. But rest assured, there’s absolutely nothing ugly about this place. The gorge itself is stunning, and the woodland that surrounds it is lush and fertile.
This 2.25-mile-long trail is perfect for a crisp autumn day. It leads you over a bridge that crosses the narrowest part of the gorge, and past a viewing platform suspended over the chasm below. You can enjoy unparalleled views of the canyon from either of these spots, and watch the surging white waters of the River Droma.
The path then enters sweeping open countryside, where you can admire the rolling landscape of the highlands in its autumnal glory.
14. Brede High Woods, East Sussex
Brede High Woods hosts a collection of different landscapes and ecosystems; from open heathland and moors to twisting ancient woodland. This diversity is part of what makes it such a mesmerising place to watch the change of seasons.
For a full appreciation of Brede High Woods’ impressive mix of habitats, why not complete the 7.5-mile ramble? Though, if you want to take things easier, there are also five-mile and 0.7-mile options.
Check out the Woodland Trust’s site to find out more.
From wild clifftop trails to quiet forest paths, there are all kinds of magical walks for you to enjoy this autumn.
For more ideas of things to do outdoors this autumn, head over to the travel section of our website. Here, you can find articles like; 20 popular days out in the UK and 10 of the most breathtaking areas of natural beauty in the UK.
What’s your favourite location for an autumn walk? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.