Yep, it’s happened. A few days of mizzle and our fickle hearts have already bid farewell to the Great British Summer and turned our attention to autumn instead. But that’s understandable, because Britain in autumn is like a heaven on earth.
Bright crisp mornings, powdery skies, harvest sunshine, and dazzling colours as the trees turn golden yellow, fiery orange and cherry red. What better time to indulge in slow-cooked casseroles, crackling fires, warm red wine, and long romantic walks in the countryside.
Here are 6 magical places to see Britain’s autumn colours in all their glory
1 The New Forest, Hampshire
Best for: Ancient oak, beech and sweet chestnut trees ablaze with golden and red hues, offset by the evergreen beauty of surrounding holly and pine.
When to go: September – late October
Look out for: Rare fungi on the forest floor – over 2,000 species – and wild pigs rooting for acorns!
Stay at: Lime Wood, an exceptional country-house hotel with utterly beautiful rooms and a world-class spa. Borrow Hunter wellies and go for a walk with their forager to learn how to harvest hedgerows for seasonal berries and nuts.
2 The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Best for: Changing colours of the ancient woodlands. Over 20 million trees – majestic oaks, sweet chestnuts, larches and beeches – will be wreathed in copper reds and burnished oranges.
When to go: September and October
Look out for: Puzzlewood, a magical 14-acre maze of twisting yew trees and mossy rocks, allegedly the inspiration for JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
Stay at: Tudor Farmhouse, a boutique hotel with crackling fires and fantastic, innovative food, all sourced within 20 miles (a divine local Longhorn beef sirloin with lovage, girolles and rainbow chard).
3 The North York Moors
Best for: Thick carpets of purple and pink heather flowers stretching over 100,000 acres, alive with bees, moths and fluttering butterflies.
When to go: Mid-August into September
Look out for: On clear nights, you can see the Milky Way shimmering across the starry heavens.
Stay at: The Feversham Arms Hotel in the pretty market town of Helmsley. Spend your days walking on the magnificent moors then return to a specialist spa, modern British food and duckdown duvets on kingsize beds.
4 The Somerset Levels, Somerset
Best for: Rolling early morning mists which slowly dissolve as the sun rises over the hills, casting pink and orange streaks across the sky, and mirrored in the wetlands below.
When to go: September to November
Look out for: Magnificent starling murmurations – huge flocks migrate here over the autumn and winter months, and will erupt en masse just before sunrise to form mesmerising shapes that sweep across the sky. The phenomenon is repeated an hour before sunset.
Stay at: The Swan Wedmore, a stunningly refurbished old village inn, with great West Country food – home-cured hams, local ciders and fish fresh from Brixham.
5 Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
Best for: The blaze of russet, golds and yellows across the landscape, and the moss-covered waterfalls of Dochart, which swell magnificently with the autumn rain.
When to go: October and November
Look out for: The elusive Rock ptarmigan gamebird hiding among rocks and boulders (they’re experts at camouflage). Expect to see wild deer, both roe and red, and stags rutting for supremacy!
Stay at: Mhor 84 Motel, a laid-back boutique motel in the heart of the national park; fantastic value, with stunning local food – Kyle of Tongue oysters, Shetland mussels, langoustines and Highland Glen venison.
6 Stourhead, Wiltshire
Best for: The sublime 8-week transition of colours, thanks to the huge variety of trees and a planting scheme that allows autumnal shades to wash across the landscape as the season progresses. Maples start the season, turning a deep scarlet red. Tulip trees and acers then take on brilliant yellow hues, followed by oaks and beech trees changing to deep orange as October progresses, while the dawn redwoods turn a lovely cinnamon colour.
When to go: September and October
Look out for: The enormous horse-chestnut tree just beyond the Temple of Flora — take your pick of shiny conkers and prepare for battle!
Stay at: Timbrell’s Yard, a super-stylish riverside pub in Bradford-on Avon; walk along the canal path after breakfast for additional autumnal colour.