Exploring the wonders of Autumn

Exploring the wonders of Autumn

Posted 25th Oct 2016

With autumn being the perfect time to take a stroll out and to enjoy the vibrancy of autumn, we've picked some of our favourite National Trust routes for bright foliage and panoramic vistas

King Alfred’s Tower walk

Stourhead, Wiltshire

Image courtesy of ©National Trust Images / Ian Shaw

This 5 mile walk takes you up through beautiful woodlands to King Alfred’s Tower, a 160ft high folly designed for Stourhead’s owner Henry Hoare II in 1772. It is believed to mark the site where King Alfred the Great rallied his troops in 878. Don’t forget to 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. Take your time to soak up all the features of this masterpiece, including the tranquil garden of the South Lawn, the shaded banks running down to the lake and the Grotto, which contains a statue of a sleeping nymph.

Before your visit, you can get a taster of Stourhead’s changing landscape with this autumn time-lapse video.

N.B. For visitors wanting to explore inside King Alfred’s Tower, it will be open at weekends only, 12-4pm throughout October.

Teign Gorge walk

Castle Drogo, Devon

This is perhaps the most famous walk on Dartmoor. From the imposing bulk of Castle Drogo – the last castle to be built in England – the route takes you through areas rich in history, with incredible views and abundant wildlife. Built in the 13th century as part of a packhorse trail, Fingle Bridge is a popular focal point for budding photographers, while kids will love using it to play Pooh sticks in the river Teign. The return journey follows the river’s path through dense oak woodland, where the foliage turns to vibrant shades of yellow and orange. If you look up you might just catch a glimpse of the castle above the trees.

Winkworth to Oakhurst walk

Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey

Image courtesy of ©National Trust Images / John Miller

During the autumn months the splendour of Winkworth Arboretum really comes to life with rich, blazing colour from the Japanese, American and Norwegian maples. This 2.5 mile walk weaves its way through the woodland to the top of Hydon's Ball, where you can enjoy spectacular views across the Surrey landscape. From here the route carries on to the charming village of Hambledon where you will discover Oakhurst Cottage, a delightful 16th-century labourer's home which has remained largely unchanged for the past hundred years or more.

Autumn Colour Trail at Ashridge

Ashridge, Hertfordshire

Image courtesy of ©National Trust Images / Michael Caldwell

This route leads you through some of the most spectacular woodland and parkland at Ashridge. Every corner you turn or hill you climb will give you more breath-taking views of autumnal colour. The final stretch of the trail offers a stunning palette of colours provided by the beech, oak and lime trees, and if you have the time to climb the monument, the views of autumn splendour are dazzling. Lucky wildlife spotters may catch a glimpse of the resident muntjacs or fallow deer herds through the trees. In autumn the fallow deer are particularly active as the bucks are busy trying to attract during the rut.

Blickling Estate walk

Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Currently called the Blickling Estate walk, this trail is being renamed in dedication to Head Ranger, David Brady who has just hung up his boots after 30 years with the National Trust and 26 years looking after Blickling’s 4,500 acre estate. The route passes through or beside several sections of woodland, providing ample opportunity to enjoy the autumn colour. The Great Wood is a particularly good spot to pause and take in your surroundings. The wood’s mix of English oaks, groves of beech and ancient sweet chestnuts, and small-leaved limes all combine to form a sea of vibrant russet hues. If you’re in need of refreshment after your walk then Blickling Hall has a café, or you can head to the National Trust-owned local pub – the Buckinghamshire Arms.

Wicken Fen Boardwalk trail

Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire

Image courtesy of ©National Trust Images / Justin Minns

Wicken Fen may not have any woodland, but it’s still possible to see stunning autumn colour on a walk around the reserve. In September the sedge turns an amazing russet colour, which becomes golden in the evenings as the setting sun illuminates the leaves. During the Second World War Dig for Victory campaign, the war office turned the fen into arable land. Restoration of the area is now being carried out, and every visit you make to Wicken Fen helps the National Trust to care for the plants and wildlife that have made a home here.

Belton Park Walk

Belton House, Lincolnshire

Image courtesy of National Trust / Rika Gordan

Autumn reds, yellows and golden browns can be found all over Belton, from the adventure playground and parkland, to the tranquil views overlooking the boating lakes. The magical misty mornings and crisp, clear days of autumn are an ideal time to enjoy the wonderful succession of changing colours. As you explore the estate on this walk you can rustle your way through fallen leaves and enjoy the gorgeous golds and yellows of the lime trees along the cobbled drive. Closer to the house, rich ruby and russet creepers clad the honey-coloured walls of the West Courtyard, where the sharp but sweet aroma of ripening quinces lingers on the air.

Railway walk at Hardcastle Crags

Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire

Lying just west of Halifax, the valleys of Hardcastle Crags offer more than 400 acres of peaceful countryside to explore, with scenic views of deep ravines and tumbling streams.
Anyone with a craving for open spaces can take the rocky paths to the hilltops and enjoy sweeping views over the West Yorkshire landscape, while down in the woodland the oak, beech and pine trees provide vibrant bursts of autumn colour. Stepping stones and picturesque footbridges arching over the river provide great focal point for that perfect autumn photograph.

Ancient Trees walk

Dunham Massey, Cheshire

Image courtesy of ©National Trust Images / Paul Harris

Dunham Massey is home to some of England’s finest veteran trees, and autumn is the time to take in the long avenues of ancient copper beech trees as they turn into pathways of golds, reds and yellows. Between the trees, look out for groups of fallow deer gathering for the rut in one of nature’s greatest annual spectacles.

Autumn Colour walk

Nant Gwynant, Gwynedd

Image courtesy of ©National Trust Images / Graham Eaton

Step out this autumn and explore the lower slopes of Snowdon and Nant Gwynant valley, where you'll discover a landscape 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. From here you can explore the intriguing ruins of Cwm Llan House before heading towards Craflwyn, watching out for feral goats as they start to descend the hills and seek shelter in the wooded glades.

Dinas Island Spectacular walk

Dinas Island, Pembrokeshire

Image courtesy of ©National Trust Images / Joe Cornish

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.

Castle Trail

Castle Ward, County Down

Image courtesy of ©National Trust Images / John Millar

Take a stroll through this 820-acre walled demesne along trails that wind their way through atmospheric woodland, parkland and gardens, with impressive views over Strangford Lough and the surrounding countryside. You’ll also wander through a series of colourful woodlands, from evergreen conifers to russet beech and golden larch. The quirky 18th-century house adds to the charm to the walk, while the old farmyard gives fans of ‘Game of Thrones’ the chance to experience life at Winterfell in the courtyard that was used for filming.

Lead image courtesy of ©National Trust Images / Justin Minns

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