Autumn is one of the most glorious times in the UK, when you can enjoy long walks in the country while taking in the most colourful season, experience peace and tranquility as the children go back to school and soak up the fabulous atmosphere at food festivals. We've picked five terrific British breaks for you to celebrate the best of autumn on a memorable staycation...
Witness the magical colours of the Dorset countryside from the sky this autumn as you experience a flight in a 1940 World War II plane on a once-in-a-lifetime tour. During your trip to Dorset you can enjoy a round of golf at the renowned Rushmore Golf Course, set in traditional estate parkland filled with ancient trees in full autumn glory, and stay at The Museum Inn, located in the pretty village of Farnham. Here, almost every postcard-perfect cottage has a thatched roof. An overnight package with Epicurean Club costs from £568 for two people.
Feast on oysters in Cornwall
From 12 to 14 October, the Falmouth Oyster Festival takes place, bringing you fantastic feasts, live music and a Grand Oyster Draw. The annual festivities celebrate the start of the oyster dredging season, the native Fal Oyster and the diversity of Cornwall's seafood. While here, check in to a Scandinavian-style lodge at Clowance Estate for a luxurious self-catering experience with unexpected surprises, including a private hot tub, sauna, welcome hamper of local produce and a complimentary Segway tour. Luxury Lodge Estates offers stays from £46 per night (sleeping eight people, based on a three-night stay).
Explore the New Forest by horse
From late September, the deciduous trees erupt into rich reds and golden hues, the heather turns from vibrant purple to burnished orange and the pigs are released onto the Common to gobble up the fallen acorns - the New Forest is one of Britain's most iconic autumn destinations. On a trail ride by horseback, you can get an up-close glimpse at this ancient landscape on a tour that's suitable for beginners and advanced riders alike. Epicurean Club offers an overnight package, which includes a stay in a nautical-themed room at The Mayflower, plus dinner and a delicious cooked breakfast the next morning, from £352 for two people.
Walk among the colours of the Scottish Highlands
On an autumn walking holiday in the Central Highlands, you can immerse yourself in this beautiful part of the world at a gentle, relaxed pace, taking in Glen Affric, the Great Glen and several others to seek out the most vibrant colours of the season. Highlights of the area include expansive vistas which are ideal for photography, the opportunity to spot rutting stags and visit Plodda Falls, a wonderful 40m high cascade, as well as enjoy gourmet dinners at an eco-friendly hotel base on the shores of Loch Ness. Wilderness Scotland offers a five-night break from £995 per person, based on two sharing, including four nights' accommodation at an co-friendly boutique hotel, most meals and a walking guide.
Celebrate the release of Goodbye Christopher Robin in East Sussex
Sussex will be in to the spotlight this autumn as new movie Goodbye Christopher Robin hits the big screen. Ashdown Forest was the home of Winnie the Pooh writer A.A. Milne, and of course, his son Christopher Robin. The stunning forest, also known as The Hundred Acre Wood, is the perfect place to see the autumn colours and wander the paths that provide amazing views across the countryside, as well as play Poohsticks at the famous Poohsticks Bridge. For those looking to explore the home of Winnie the Pooh with friends and family, Masketts Barn in Nutley, sleeps nine, and offers superb views out over the countryside. It's available from Mulberry Cottages for £79 per person for three nights.
Britain's best autumn walks
Britain's best autumn walks
At this time of year, if you take the Pipe Walk at Carding Mill Valley you'll be amazed by the blues, golds and greens. Emily Knight, Conservation Manager at Carding Mill, says: "For a lot of visitors, the view and colours at Carding Mill are a surprise. As they come out of Church Stretton they cross a cattle grid and suddenly these incredible hills are in front of them.”
If you weren't looking, you might not have noticed the nearly 6,000 acres of ancient woodland tucked away around London’s eastern limits. Now we’ve told you, you've no excuses. According to Visit England, which features this on its top ten autumn walks, Epping Forest is "a hidden woodland world, fiery and bright with autumn colours at this time of year, and crisscrossed with trails for you to amble happily along." You'll also find wandering cows, freely grazing among the trees in scenes harking back to London’s farming past.
The New Forest is at its most beautiful in autumn when the trees display colours of vibrant orange, yellow and red. The Knightwood Oak Trail guides you through some ancient woodland around the Knightwood Oak, the largest oak in the New Forest, which is also known as the Queen of the Forest. The tree is estimated to be between 400 and 600 years old and is protected by a wooden fence. Continue to Ornamental Drive to see some more magnificent trees before you stop at Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary.
Stourhead is a 2,650 acre National Trust estate, and home to some of the best 18th-century landscaped gardens in the world. In autumn its oaks and beeches are ablaze with reds, golds and yellows, and you can spend a whole day just exploring its classical follies, or relaxing by its elegant lake. Don’t forget to pop into the Palladian mansion itself, and venture into the ancient woodland that also forms part of the estate—you’ll see the contrast between this and the meticulously kept gardens.
The picturesque village of Edzell in Angus boasts some great woodland walks including the Rocks of Solitude - a local favourite that lives up to its name. It follows the River North Esk upstream through a narrow wooded gorge and autumn is the best time to explore when the warm colours bring it the area to life. Look out for salmon leaping over the waterfalls to spawn upstream. Visit surprise.visitscotland.com
There are several trails in Cardinham Woods - but one of the best to see the autumnal colours is the Lady Vale Walk, which is two miles long and follows the Cardinham Water River upstream to Lady Vale Bridge. The trail takes you through forested valley where you can see the oak, alder, rowan and willow trees showing off their beautiful, warm colours. This is also the perfect time to spot deer and birds. Visit forestry.gov.uk
John Keats' famous poem Ode To Autumn was inspired by this walk, so it'a s route with some potency. Visit England's top ten autumn walks recommends setting out from Winchester's centre, past the cathedral grounds and out into the Water Meadows, beside the River Itchen. This is where "seasons of mists and mellow fruitfullness" abound.
With over 15 miles of footpaths in this wooded valley, a walk through Hardcastle Crags in autumn gives you the chance to see the stunning changes in the plants and trees. There are beautiful ravines, streams and waterfalls throughout and at its centre is Gibson Mill, a former cotton mill where you can stop to find out about the valley's 200-year history. The four circular walks range from three to seven miles and take you through changing scenery for a varied trail. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk
This area has numerous for wonderful scenic walks. Stroll around Glentress to see specimen trees and waterfalls, or try Thornilee Forest in the Tweed Valley Forest Park for longer rambles.
In autumn, the steep hillside of Winkworth Arboretum turns gold, brown, red and bronze, and is beautifully reflected in the ripples of its lake. The tranquil arboretum has over 1,000 shrubs and trees including Japanese maples, acers and liquidambar. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk
The hill farm of Hafod y Llan has some of the most breathtaking scenery in Wales. Stone walls, woodland and Welsh mountain sheep are just some of what you'll pass on the four-mile walk. There are also three rivers - Afon Cwm Llan, Afon Merch and Afon Gorsen - that tumble over a spectacular waterfall running down a mountain and stone clapper bridge. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk
The Petworth House and Park ancient trees walk takes in a beautiful deer park landscaped by 'Capability' was the inspiration for the great landscape painter, J.M.W. Turner. In autumn, the woodlands and grasslands transform slowly from green to gold. The magnificent oaks, limes, beeches and chestnuts create canopies of buttery-gold foliage and at the centre of the deer park stands an English oak tree with golden leaves that has stood overlooking the estate for almost 1000 years. In the evening light, the setting sun bathes the mansion in a warm yellow glow, whilst its windows shine gold and red.In early autumn, the parkland is often transformed into a savannah-type landscape – a golden expanse of tall waving grasses and seed heads. Peter Richards, Volunteer Gardener for the National Trust, says: “Everywhere you look in the park there is something to cheer you up. It's a treescape going through a transition in colour as summer turns to autumn."
Grizedale Forest Park offers the ultimate day out in autumn with great trails, family picnic areas and an adventure playground. The changing colours of the leaves give the forest a new life and it's especially wonderful in the centre of the valley that's surrounded by ancient oak woodland. Look out for the warm colours of the ancient beech trees and Andy Goldsworthy’s famous sculptures. The kids will love it here too as they can get active on the 18-metre Go Ape platform and fly 200 metres across the top of the Grizedale Beck. Visit forestry.gov.uk
This forest has one of the world's finest conifer collections with 12,000 trees and shrubs. Bedgebury offers the perfect opportunity to see the autumn colours and although most of the conifers remain evergreen, there are lots of species that change colour. The Larches are the most obvious and turn bright yellow. The Dawn Redwood and Swamp Cypress trees are other must-sees with their shades of red, chestnut, ochre and copper. In autumn the beautiful Katsura tree gives off a caramel and candyfloss scent, and this is also a good time to see the last of the dragon-flies and bumble bees. Visit forestry.gov.uk
This is one of the most spectacular tree gardens in the world with a historic collection of 3,000 different tree and shrub species. It covers 600 acres of land and has 16,000 trees from Britain and beyond. Autumn is the best time to visit when the maples are ablaze in reds, oranges and yellows, and you'll find guided walks and self-led trails to keep the adults and kids exploring the vast woodland. Visit forestry.gov.uk
With 84 miles of rugged moorland and rolling fields, the footpath that runs through the World Heritage Site Hadrian's Wall is a real treat for keen walkers and especially glorious in autumn. The trail stretches from the east to the west coast across the North of England and ranges from flat path through remote countryside, alongside the River Eden, through Newcastle and into farmland. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk
Explore over 120 acres of landscaped garden, follow winding paths to enchanting lakes, where even the water takes on a distinctly autumnal hue. The five linked lakes reflect the vivid autumn colours, with flaming ochre and scarlet painted by Japanese maples, swamp cypresses and birches.
Beyond the garden rooms, providing spectacular coloured blooms at every turn, the lush woodlands of Mount Stewart come into their own. Follow the lake walk to discover the ornamental trees and shrubs in their autumn coats of red and gold, reflected in the still water of the lake.
Formby has it all- sweeping coastal pinewoods, a glorious beach and dramatic sand dunes. Red squirrels, natterjacks, prehistoric footprints and miles of walks, this National Trust area offers a great autumnal day out for all.
Of the many charms of the Upper Derwent Valley, Ladybower Reservoir is one of the finest, says Visit England. Surrounded by forests, farmland, grazing sheep and spectacular moorland, it's an enchanting place to spend an autumn weekend. You can head up to Bamford Edge for an awe-inspiring view over the resevoir, or across the Ashopton Viaduct for a closer look at the Ladybower Dam itself. Or simply walk among the trees and fields immediately surrounding the reservoir and admire the autumn colours in their full glory.
Catbells is a peculiarly named Cumbrian peak, but a spectacular autumn walk nonetheless. According to a list of top ten autumn walks compiled by Visit England, "it's a little more effort than the average stroll, but suitable for families and well worth that smidgen of extra energy". From just outside the hamlet of Little Town, in the Newlands Valley, it's a gradual climb to the top where you'll find some of the best views to Skiddaw directly across Derwent Water.
This World Heritage Site provides a stunning man-made contrast to the natural wonder of an autumnal landscape. Discover breathtaking views across the magnificent 12th century abbey ruins and the beautifully landscaped Georgian water garden, alongside seasonal shades in the surrounding 800 acres of beautiful countryside.
Nestled on the edge of the Peak District, Lyme Park sits within a 1,300 acre park featuring sweeping moorland, stunning views and elegant formal gardens. The Hall itself surveys wooded slopes, the lake and the Lime Avenue, providing memorable scenery especially in the autumn months, when the colours change with the seasons.
With its mild climate and sheltered valleys, the amazingplants of Glendurgan take on spectacular new features in the autumn months. Southern hemisphere plants burst into flower, while the jungle-like leaves of giant rhubarb and bananas reach full size. As low light filters through the woodlands on the valley sides, the leaves and trunks of trees take on fascinating shades of autumnal colour.
Rising dramatically above the terraced garden and estate, this medieval fortress provides an outstanding autumnal setting. The warm, welcoming colours of the castle appear to echo the rich hues of seasonal foliage, as the red walls match the red vines and the leaves in the surrounding woodlands.