When autumn arrives in Britain, the leaves turn golden, the sky seems bluer and the air has a crisp chill making it a great time for country walks. Here are some walking route ideas from the National Trust who look after properties and landscapes all over England and Wales.
South West England
Stourhead, Wiltshire: King Alfred’s Tower walk
This 5.5-mile walk takes you through beautiful woodlands to King Alfred’s Tower, an 160ft-high folly designed for the Stourhead estate’s owner, Henry Hoare II, in 1772. It is believed to mark the site where King Alfred the Great rallied his troops in 878. Stop and enjoy the spectacular views across the lake in the landscape garden, with the deep autumnal hues of red, russet and yellow from the surrounding trees.
Heddon Valley, North Devon: Heddon Valley to Woody Bay walk
Nestled on the West Exmoor coast it’s easy to see why the Heddon Valley was a favourite with the Romantic poets. In autumn the path through the valley is full of vibrant yellow gorse, which scents the air with the smell of coconuts all the way down to the sea at Heddon’s Mouth. There are also walking routes higher up, including an historic 19th-century carriageway and part of the South West Coast Path, which run across some of England’s most dramatic coastal cliffs.
South East England
Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey: Winkworth to Oakhurst walk
During the autumn months the splendour of Winkworth Arboretum really comes to life with rich, blazing colour from this collection of trees. This 2.5-mile walk weaves its way through the woodland to the top of Hydon's Ball, where you can enjoy spectacular views. Continue on to the charming village of Hambledon and visit 16th-century Oakhurst Cottage, which has remained largely unchanged for the past hundred years or more.
Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex: Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber walk
Only 5 miles north of Brighton, Devil’s Dyke is a protected landscape with stunning vistas – including a panorama which the Romantic painter John Constable described as 'the grandest view in the world'. In September the hill-barrows at Newtimber become even more vibrant when the flowering devil’s bit scabious transforms the hillside into a haze of purple: the autumn equivalent of bluebells in a wood.
Gibside, Tyne and Wear: Gibside Valley Views walk
Buzzing with wildlife, Gibside is home to red kites, roe deer and many other rare animals. During the autumn months you can see the colours changing on the trees across the Derwent Valley on this spectacular 4.4-mile walk. Warm your toes afterwards at the Gibside Pub, with local ales and pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven. What’s more, every pizza you eat helps the National Trust to care for special places such as Gibside.
Nant Gwynant, Gwynedd: Autumn Colour walk
The lower slopes of Snowdon and Nant Gwynant valley are steeped in history and rich autumnal colours. This walk will take you through wooded glades in a tranquil valley, passing the orange canopy of oak leaves above while a variety of fungi grow below. The route then ascends the famous Watkin Path out into the open fields of fading green, dotted with the rust of bracken die-back at Cwm Llan.
Dinas Island, Pembrokeshire: Dinas Island Spectacular walk
This circular walk boasts some of the finest views anywhere on the Pembrokeshire coast. In early autumn the coastal slopes are cloaked with the yellows and browns of fading bracken, while on the headland the pinks and purples of common heather are just coming in to bloom, alongside the yellow gorse flowers.