Walk through an arboretum decked out with exotic trees, soak up autumnal colours from a steam train and spot red squirrels in unspoilt woodlands with Visit England…
Soak up autumn colours aboard a steam train: Exbury Gardens, Hampshire
The bursts of colour from the Japanese maples, dogwoods and azaleas that’ll hit you along the autumn walking trail come late September are pretty magical all by themselves; but add a steam-spouting locomotive into the mix too, and autumn at Exbury Gardens becomes even more spectacular. The compact railway gently chugs along a one-and-a-quarter-mile circular route lined with towering oaks and various themed gardens, all bursting with mellow autumnal hues. It’s one of the most unique ways to experience the changing of the seasons.
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Spot red squirrels in towering trees: Allen Banks and Staward Gorge, Northumberland
Nothing quite prepares you for the first time you experience the remote beauty of Northumberland, and in autumn, with the golden light that the changing of the season brings to the north, it feels even more enchanting. Ramble through the ancient woodlands and along the waterside of Allen Banks and Staward Gorge for example, and you’ll come across flittering grey wagtails and herons hunting for prey, alongside a mass of towering trees dressed in deep oranges and pale yellows. Keep an eye out too for elusive red squirrels nesting in the forks of tree trunks.
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Discover London’s secret woodland: Epping Forest, Greater London/Essex
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. Epping Forest is a hidden woodland world, fiery and bright with autumn colours at this time of year, and criss-crossed with trails for you to amble happily along. You’ll also find wandering cows grazing freely among the trees, in scenes harking back to London’s farming past.
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Take the family up a Cumbrian peak: Catbells, Lake District
Devoid of both cats and bells, Catbells is a peculiarly named Cumbrian peak, but a striking autumn walk nonetheless. It takes a little more effort than the average stroll, but is 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.
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Walk among some of the rarest trees in Europe: Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
Plant lovers, listen up. Some of England’s most magnificent trees are to be found in Westonbirt Aboretum decked out in their autumn finery over 600 acres of countryside. Just 40 minutes from Bath you’ll find a wooden wonderland with the rippling reds and fading greens of the maples and the hickories’ brisk yellows. It’s a top spot for an autumn walk, and the meandering assortment of trails and paths means you can explore at your leisure.
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For more autumn ideas, check out: www.VisitEngland.com.
Katie Rowe is Visit England’s Assistant Editor. Londoner born and bred she is hooked on grand architecture, kitsch coastal towns, music festivals, flea markets and roaming the V&A.