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Golden Leaves and Crips Days...
As autumn sets the leaves ablaze with vibrant oranges, yellows and reds, there’s really no better time to get outside and explore the UK countryside. From the Peak District’s rolling golden hills to Snowdonia’s vast auburn oak tree canopies, there are some truly breath-taking British landscapes to traverse during the autumn months. So whether you’re a seasoned hiker or simply a casual stroller, we’ve chosen five autumn walks which should satisfy anyone who is keen to explore the outdoors on foot when the leaves begin to fall.
Formby Red Squirrel Walk, Merseyside
The red squirrel was once the only squirrel species to live and breed in Europe but these days the animals are classified as rare and endangered and populations are largely confined to Scotland, Ireland and small pockets of woodland in the North of England. Formby’s Red Squirrel Walk offers a largely unrivalled opportunity to spot one of Britain’s rarest and much-loved animals and is perfect for a scenic family ramble during the autumn months. The trail measures just under 2 miles long and includes stretches by the sand dunes along the North West coast as well as paths which wind through the area’s beautiful pinewood forests. There are plenty of opportunities to spot a red squirrel or two as The National Trust have put up feeders in the tallest pine trees where the animals often venture out to gather food before hibernating.
The nature reserve offers plenty of destinations for picnics and the nearby area is home to a number of aptly named pubs such as ‘The Red Squirrel’ and ‘The Pinewoods’ where you’re likely to find great traditional food and drink.
Ashridge Autumn Colours
Bursting with the hues of autumn, the Ashridge Autumn Colours Walk is a moderately long 3-hour ramble which covers around 9.5km. The walk follows a popular section of the Ashridge boundary trail and is usually very popular, with space for up to 100 people to participate. The walk gives visitors the chance to discover the less-trodden woodland and parkland of the Ashridge Estate and provides some great opportunities to come up close to the area’s native fallow dear and stroll beneath the rows of ancient beech trees.
The Ashridge National Trust Visitor Centre provides a convenient café and starting point and there are dozens of great picnic spots dotted along the trail too.
Lyme Park, Peak District
Sitting on the north western edge of the Peak District, Lyme Park really comes to life when the autumn leaves begin to fall. Known famously as the setting for the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, the park offers a pleasant combination of pristine parkland, rugged woodland and a beautiful Edwardian rose garden which surrounds the grand Lyme Hall Manor.
An autumn visit to the park will also offer an opportunity to witness a rare natural spectacle as the annual deer rut takes place throughout October and November. There are numerous spots around the park where you can watch the wild stags compete for female mates in fierce confrontations which is truly a sight to be seen – just remember to keep your distance.
Lyme Park is also home to the ‘Ale Cellar’, which is in prime location for post-walk meals and also provides a great spot for afternoon tea. The YHA’s Hartington Hall is a well placed Peak District hostel for anyone planning to stay overnight and explore more of the famous national park the following day.
Autumn Colour Walk at Hinton Ampner, Hampshire
A beautiful stately home set in its own landscaped gardens, Hinton Ampner is a majestic location at any time of year but when autumn comes around it looks particularly impressive. The annual Hinton Ampner Autumn Colour Walk is organised in October and November and will give ramblers a chance to take in the very best views of the manor, the South Downs and the woodlands which surround the estate. The colour walk really reveals the full spectrum of autumn scenery and there is a real range of plant-life on show with the estate’s exotic dahlias really coming to the fore in the autumn months. The walk itself isn’t too challenging and takes around 2 hours to complete with stretches across fields, footpaths and woodland terrain.
Tickets are required to participate (£10 per person) but this does include a great post-walk meal at the ornate Hinton Ampner tearoom.
Nant Gwynant Autumn Walk
Situated at the foot of Snowdon, the Nant Gwynant Valley is one of the most picturesque locations in South Wales and, when autumn comes around, it looks almost set alight with burnt oranges and warm browns. The Autumn Walk Trail in Nant Gwynant will give you the best views of the area, but at four miles in length and with steep inclines and tricky terrain, the walk might appeal more to seasoned hikers than casual strollers. Highlights of the trail include the variety of wildlife (look out for feral goats descending the hills), rare fungi and historic ruins such as the fascinating remains of Cwm Llan House.
The atmospheric autumn trees cape the walk in warm oranges and velvety browns and provide a little warmth and shelter against the cool autumn breeze. The local area is sparse but there are some villages and hamlets to explore as well as the perfectly positioned Caffi Gwynant where you can enjoy traditional meals and snacks after your hike.