Autumn is surely the most picturesque season of the year, and we’re fortunate that the UK has so many beautiful and scenic rural locations to explore on foot when the leaves start to fall. From the rolling red and gold hills of the Peak District to the darker orange and brown landscapes on show in Snowdonia, hikers are pretty much spoilt for choice when it comes to planning autumn routes. Because there’s nothing like slipping on a pair of wellies or walking boots and getting away from it all in the rural byways and back-ways, we’ve decided to put together a few short walking guides for the best places to catch the autumn colours and wildlife this year.
Lyme Park, Peak District
Just on the edge of the Peak District, Lyme Park comes into its own in the autumn months and is most famously known as the setting for the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Taking a tranquil stroll through the Edwardian rose gardens is a real highlight and we’d highly recommend exploring the grounds and folly which surround the iconic Lyme Hall manor.
Autumn is the perfect time to spot wild deer at Lyme Park as the season signals the time for the spectacular annual deer rut. You’re likely to see confrontations between stags in many places around the park as the deer compete for attention from potential mates. There is also a great restaurant in the park, the Ale Cellar, which offers hearty seasonal meals, snacks and afternoon tea.
Our YHA Hartington Hall is one of our best located peak district hostels and is a perfect option for staying in the area.
Formby Red Squirrel Walk, Merseyside
The chance to see a rare and endangered red squirrel is at its highest in autumn in Formby as the area is renowned for being one of the few remaining habitats for the species. The trail through the woods at Formby is easy to follow and is just under two miles long, coming close to the coast and the sand dunes as well as the depths of the woods. The National Trust has put up feeders in the trees to help encourage the squirrels so you may get lucky and spot one or two reveal its russet red coat among the autumn foliage.
Nearby there are plenty of traditional pubs, including the aptly named The Red Squirrel and The Pinewoods. Our YHA Liverpool is a well located Liverpool hostel and is only a short car journey from the start of the trail.
YHA Autumn Colour Walk at Hinton Ampner, Hampshire
Hinton Ampner is a stately house with beautiful landscaped gardens and has lots of features for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. The Hinton Ampner Autumn Colour Walk takes place every year during October and November around the estate and offers hikers the full spectrum of autumnal scenery. The two hour walk crosses the countryside with fields, footpaths and woodland to enjoy and food is provided for visitors within Hinton Ampner’s tearoom.
Red and gold dominate the Autumn Colour Walk as the leaves are primed to fall from the trees and the grounds offer unrivalled views of the South Downs. Our YHA Littlehampton close by for anyone wanting to make a full day of the walk.
Ashridge Autumn Colours, Hertfordshire
Vibrant and rich in colour, the autumn colours walk through Ashridge is a 9.5km trail which takes a good three hours to complete. The walk follows a section of the Ashridge boundary trail and offers spectacular woodland, parkland and opportunities to see the area’s fallow dear and rows of ancient beech trees.
The National Trust visitor centre at Ashridge provides refreshments in their café and it’s also a great place to pack a picnic to enjoy along the way. Our YHA Jordans is a great choice for affordable accommodation in the area and ensure you get a good night’s sleep afterwards.
Nant Gwynant Autumn Walk
Situated at the foot of Mount Snowdon, the Nant Gwynant valley really comes alive in Autumn and is renowned for its bold orange landscapes. You will spot everything from rare fungi to historic ruins along the Autumn walk trail and with just under four miles to walk, it’s an enjoyable country hike, with gravel paths, stiles and steep inclines to traverse.
The orange canopy of oak trees provide shelter against the brisk autumn winds and offers a unique chance to enjoy the tranquillity and peaceful atmosphere in the depths of the Welsh countryside. The local area is dotted with village and hamlets and you can enjoy traditional meals at the Caffi Gwynant at the old Capel Bethania. There is also facilities available near the Bethania car park where the Nant Gwynant trail begins. Our YHA Bryn Gwynant is a secluded rural retreat and is a perfectly placed Snowdonia hostel for those wanting to take part in the walk this autumn.