Best Places to Spot Autumn Leaves in the UK
We know that sometimes letting go of summer can be a difficult and emotional goodbye – but why not look at it a different way? With autumn comes cosying up with warm hot chocolates, being just the right temperature in bed and, most importantly, those scenic autumnal walks through crunchy orange leaves. With the arrival of autumn, we have the opportunity to soak in the fresh sunshine and gaze at the yellow, orange, gold and brown hues of the leaves.
In the UK, the best time to see the autumnal leaves at their finest is toward late October. During this time, parks and wooded areas all become wholesome-walk-central. The rusty burnt-orange leaves of this time of the year offer a naturally beautiful patchwork of colour all across the UK, and there are some absolutely magnificent sights to be seen – especially as after every autumn walk you get to cosy up with a hot drink too.
So, now we’ve finally come to terms with saying goodbye to summer and welcoming autumn with open arms, where are the best places to spot autumn leaves in the UK?
1. Temple Newsam - Leeds
Situated in the heart of Leeds is a beautiful country estate called Temple Newsam. With events and attractions all year round suitable for all ages, the Temple Newsam estate is the perfect place to visit with family and friends. The Tudor/Jacobean mansion also has a rare breeds farm and park on the 1500 acre site, and is perfect for walking, cycling or even horse riding.
Although the estate is beautiful all year round, it truly is a special place in autumn. As the surrounding forest and woodland around the house turns a stunning burnt orange hue, you will be able to discover the natural world from a whole other perspective. Once you have finished pottering around the gardens, perhaps with a flask of hot chocolate as you take in the fresh autumn air, you can then spend some time looking at some of the most spectacular art and silverware collections that are kept within the house.
Once you have fully exhausted your time in the autumn sun, stunning house and let your children run about and weave in and out of the orange trees, the Temple Newsam Tea Rooms will be ready to serve you locally sourced foods, drinks and cakes to warm you up and really get you in that autumnal mood.
2. Grizedale Forest - Lake District
Near the Coniston Water in the Lake District you’ll find 10 square miles of a natural woodland called the Grizedale Forest. The forest itself is famous amongst artists, as sculptures from all over the world come to use the natural materials on offer there – along with painting the forest landscapes (particularly in autumn!) The Grizedale Forest has a vast network of walking and cycling trails all around, which are all so vibrant during the autumn months. Colours of gold and red can be seen all throughout the woods and is every nature-lovers dream. But beware, its easy to get lost! So make sure you take a look at this handy map along the way.
3. Cardinham Woods - Cornwall
Cardinham is, in our opinion, one of the most beautiful woodlands in the whole of Cornwall – especially if you’re looking to head there with family. You’ll be able to stroll along the river, soaking up the autumnal scenes around you. The Cardinham Woods are best known for its Oak, Rowan and Willow trees – so you’ll be sure to see very strong bursts of reds, oranges and golds in the autumn sunshine. The Forest Commission also puts together child-friendly activities all year round, with their Gruffalo trail being one of the most popular – so make sure you and the children keep your eyes peeled for some infamous literary characters in this cost autumn wood. Forestry England also have a number of walking trails, so whether you’re a beginner or an advanced hiker, there will be something for you.
4. Westonbirt National Arboretum - Gloucestershire
Spread across over 600 acres of woodland, the Westonbirt National Arboretum is home to over 16,000 types of trees and shrubbery. The woodlands themselves are the perfect place for a leisurely walk through a vast range of oranges and reds. Westonbirt hosts Japanese Maples and Chinese Spindle Trees – meaning you won’t only see the traditional colours of autumn, but you’ll be able to see pinks and deep reds too. There is also a handy map for your time at the Arboretum, pin pointing key parts of the woodlands you won’t want to miss.
5. St Mary’s Vale - Monmouthshire
If what draws you to autumn is the eeriness of Halloween and you’re looking for some mysterious country walks with ‘Halloween orange’ leaves – then St Mary’s Vale in Monmouthshire is perfect for you. St Mary’s Vale isn’t just any wood – it is a woodland full of distorted and wonderous trees that feel as though they should be growing in a fairy tale (or horror!) The trees in the vale don’t typically grow straight up like most trees would, instead they twist and twine into one another. While you’re out walking in the vale, you will also be able to hear the tranquil flow of the Nant Iago stream that runs through the woodlands. As you continue to walk through the woods, you’ll reach the summit of the Sugar Loaf mountain, where you’ll be able to see the views that burst with reds, oranges and yellows all throughout the autumn.
6. Loch Katrine - Stirlingshire
In the heart of Scotland you will find Loch Katrine. The loch has been an attraction for poets and artists for centuries, which Wordsworth and Coleridge spending a lot of their time there for inspiration and to escape city life. Loch Katrine is situated in remote country side and is vibrant all year round – but particularly in autumn. Although people can enjoy autumnal strolls in the area, there are also Loch Katrine cruises where you can see the outstanding beauty from well-equipped vessels. The cruises mean you will see a lot more of the loch, as well as have the opportunity to see the autumnal colours from a distance – and the yellow, orange and red landscape is truly something to be seen.
7. Knightwood Oak Trail - New Forest
If colours are what attracts you to autumn, then Knightwood Oak Trail in the New Forest is perfect. Full of a display of reds, oranges and yellows throughout the whole of autumn, this forest nestled alongside gorgeous moorland is perfect for anyone looking for a wander in nature. In this woodland, you can even spot a tree that is over 24 foot high and the oldest tree in the New Forest, which is known as the Queen of the Forest – and you can find it on most of their walking trails.
8. Grand Union Canal - Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is one of the best counties in the whole country where you can go on walks in natural beauty. In the autumn months, the Grand Union Canal provide bursts of orange and red all along the canal by Cassiobury Park in Watford. With Oak, Beech, Birch and Ash trees surrounding the area, you’ll be in for a dazzle autumnal display wonderful to get you in the mood for cosy autumn nights in. Don’t miss a thing and pick the best walk for you.
9. Birks of Aberfeldy - Perthshire
Everyone knows that the Scottish Highlands is one of the most beautiful places in the whole of the United Kingdom – but have you ever heard of the Birks of Aberfeldy? Situated in Perthshire, Aberfeldy is home to some of the most gorgeous trees you will ever witness – and they only get better in the autumn months. The colours come alive, with reds, oranges and browns throughout autumn and the area is a hotspot for people wanting to see the gorge of Moness Burn.
10. Glen Affric - Highlands
As we’ve mentioned, the Scottish Highlands are famous for their remarkable natural beauty and breath-taking views – so it is no wonder they have come up twice on our list. Arguably the most beautiful glen in the highlands, Glen Affric is just south-west of the village of Cannich. The glen has vast lochs and excellent mountainous scenes, and it is also one of the largest remnants of the pine forest that once covered the majority of Scotland. Along with pine trees, you can also see the likes of Birch trees and Rowan trees, which all look stunning in the autumn months.
11. Castle Espie Wetland Centre - Comber
Castles are definitely a must in autumn, and there is no better than Castle Espie in Comber. Set just on the shores of the Strangford Lough you will find this mystical castle – as well as the entire world’ population of Brent Geese during the colder season! The award-winning castle is the ideal place for families to spot gorgeous trees as they turn orange and yellow in the autumn. Along with the gorgeous selection of trees in the area, bird watchers come from all over the country to see migrating bird species such as Whooper Swans, who come over from the Arctic to nest for the season.
On site, you will be able to find a café, gift shop and walking trails, which means this is a great option for getting your children outdoors and interested in the natural world around them.
12. Faskally - Pitlochry
In the 19th century, the owners of Faskally House created a model woodland, which later became a school for people wanting to study forestry. Faskally is home to the Loch on the Dunmore Trail, where there are endless loops of trees and autumnal leaves you won’t want to miss. For natural lovers especially, Faskally is ideal for spotting wild birds, such as Kingfishers and Herons.
If you are interested in camping in the area too, it is worth noting that Faskally also has a caravan park which is ideal for a comfortable autumnal stay. The park is known for its warm and friendly atmosphere, as well as its hospitality and excellent accommodation – so while you’re on the look out for autumnal stays this one should definitely make your list.
13. Glentrool Visitor Centre - Galloway
The Glentrool Visitors Centre is located in the heart of the Galloway Forest Park. It is known for its excellent woodland trails, and even has a café for when you’re in need of a cosy autumnal bite to eat. Woodland trails such as the Loch Trool Loop will take you through winding trails of oak and allow you to see some of the most fantastic autumnal views of Scotland. On this walk, you will also see the Steps of Trool, which is where the infamous battle of Scottish Independence was fought over 700 years ago.
Along with this, Glentrool is an excellent mounting biking trail centres, with some views that are only viewable by bike.
14. Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal - Powys
Canals are incredible in the autumn, with trees lined up along them and the orange reflections bouncing of the water – we cannot imagine anything better. The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal is arguably the most popular attraction in the Brecon Beacons National Park, as it is one of the River Trust’s most serene waterways. The canal itself runs for 35 miles, all the way from the Brecon Beacons to the Pontymoile Basin. On the walk along the canal, you will have the opportunity to see hundreds of Beech Trees, which almost glow golden in the autumn sun over the Usk Valley site.
15. Llangollen Canal - Denbighshire
Again, we love a canal at this time of year – especially those that reflect the colours of autumn. The Llangollen Canal in Denbighshire is between both England and Wales, and combines the countryside of both countries. Starting at the Horseshoe Falls in Llangollen, the 72ft canal offers picturesque views of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which is beautifully framed by autumnal leaves – making it a great photo opportunity. The valley itself has incredible hues of oranges and yellows, and is an incredible nod to the Welsh countryside in the autumn months.
16. Tintern Abbey - Monmouthshire
The Wye Valley in autumn is every nature lovers dream. For hundreds of years, travellers from all over the world have come to the valley to see its natural beauty, and Tintern Abbey is one of the reasons why. The abbey has been in ruins now for quite some time, but the 12th-century remains are a sight to be seen – especially set in front of the oranges and reds of Welsh autumn shrubbery. The surrounding ancient woods of the abbey are perfectly place to capture the season in all of its glory. As we’ve mentioned, people from all over the world come to ‘leaf peep’ at the abbey and spend short breaks here soaking up the autumnal cosiness of the valley.
17. The Argory - County Armagh
The Argory in County Armagh is known for its vibrant green lime trees, but it is a very different story in the autumn. When the summer starts to come to an end, the trees soon turn into golden yellows and oranges as they bend to the new season. A stroll underneath the golden orange arches is the perfect way to welcome the colder months. Those looking for a beautiful scenic walk will find this along the riverside, where you’ll be able to find free blackberries to pick and conkers to collect along the trails. The Argory prides themselves on cosy autumnal events – so you must take a look at those before your visit to plan ahead!
18. Tollymore Forrest - County Down
If Beech trees are your favourite, then get yourself to Tollymore this autumn. The burnt-orange leaves of the Beech trees and the yellows and reds of the Ashen Spurs bring the county to life during the colder seasons. Tree species that can be found here in abundance are Oak, Beech, Ash, Birch, Sitka, Yew, Willow, Larch, Field Maple and Himalayan Cedar, just to name a few – making it every leaf-enthusiasts dream come the autumn period. The seasonal walks here are ideal for nature lovers and anyone wanting to truly embrace the colder months.
19. Glenariff Forest - County Antrim
Ash, Oak, Beech and Hazel – the natural colour display of these sensational trees can all be found in orange glory in the Glenariff Forest. The forest itself is alive with the colours of autumn during the colder seasons, and the Glen (Glenariff Glen) is considered to be the most stunning of the nine glens in the Antrim – which is why it is known as the Queen of the Glens. With its 1,185 hectares of woodland, which also include rivers, waterfalls and pools, all give this particular glen a wondrously mythical feel to it.
20. Stormont Estate - Belfast
Situated just 5 miles from the city centre of Belfast is the Stormont Estate. The estate is a public park with a huge stretch of gardens, walking trails and adventure playgrounds for the children. Recognised as Northern Ireland’s best green space (and being awarded the Green Flag award) it is a beautiful spot to walk within nature all year round. That being said, however, in autumn it is the perfect time to see nature in its docile state, and take in the oranges, yellows and golden hues of the estate. The easy-access paths are great for everyone to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and perfect for collection autumnal leaves and seeing the shrubbery of Norther Ireland.