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Our favourite autumn landscapes

Embrace the new season, the leaves turning rusty hues, the misty days, the last warmth of the sunshine and plan a trip to see some spectacular autumn landscapes. Here are a few ideas of vistas to visit and places to stay.

Peak District 

Chatsworth, Derbyshire

The Peak District National Park, pretty picture perfect most of the year-round but when autumn arrives a walk through the hills to see the heathers, or a good stomp through falling leaves on a moody morning with the sun breaking through the huge sky revealing rugged landscapes is absolutely awesome. Throw in hilltop villages with cosy pubs and crackling log fires and you’re all set.

The Chatsworth Estate and surrounding villages are well worth a visit for the 105 acres of glorious gardens and footpaths that are breathtaking at this time of year.

Or hop on a bike and meander through the traffic-free cycle routes on one of the many disused railway tracks that has become a trail, both Tissington and Monsal Trail are superb and offer bike hire. There are also streams and waterfalls and majestic woodland to be found at the magical Padley Gorge by the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate.

Put your head down at any of our Peak District hostels

New Forest

On a frosty autumn morning, Group of four going for a walk on this lovely morning sun, in the New Forest

Surround yourself in the orange, red, green and yellow hues of the forest when you go and visit this national park.

The New Forest feels like a fairy tale with ponies wandering freely around the streets. During autumn the donkey’s, ponies and cattle are moved to common ground away from the forest due to acorns. Instead, pigs are released to roam the forest floor because they love nothing more than snuffling up the little woody treats. You will also find plenty of fungi emerging from the damp leaves, look out for foraging workshops so you can learn what’s safe to eat.  

Amongst the 40 miles of coastline that make up the New Forest National Park is the wonderful Lymington where you should definitely while away an hour or two watching the waves crash and looking out for sea birds.

Snuggle down at YHA New Forest


Beautiful Autumn sunset landscape image of view from Leather Tor towards Burrator Reservoir in Dartmoor National Park

After the hustle and bustle of the summer months, exploring Cornwall in the quieter season of autumn means tourist hot spots become a lot more accessible. You can now avoid the crowds and visit Tintagel Castle, taking your time to explore. The big swells and storms whip the Atlantic into wild and exhilarating seascapes, there’s wonderful woodlands and marvellous moors where you can get your fix of many shades of golds, browns and reds.

Or see autumn in all its glory on Dartmoor, which is the stuff of myth and legend, with incredible landscapes, an abundance of nature, naturally sculpted rock formations and plenty of walking trails. Warm up with traditional Cornish pasties or an afternoon tea, the big question – will you go jam or cream first?

Sleep at one of our Cornish hostels


St James Park in London

London in autumn is a great experience. With its many parks, tree-lined streets with traditional streetlights and river views, it’s a great city to discover at this time of year. St James’s Park turns technicolour with its myriad of tree varieties, beautiful gardens and views from the bridge of the London Eye.

Nip over the road to the historic Red Lion pub, allegedly Charles Dickens used to be a customer!

Walk down the tunnel of golden trees along the Embankment or head further afield to Richmond Park and the Isabella Plantation or the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew which is home to 14,000 trees of more than 2,000 species. Some of the trees date back to the 18th century and include a Japanese Pagoda tree. For the kids, there’s the Gruffalo Trail. Something for everyone.

Stay at one our London hostels YHA London Central or YHA London St Pancras

South Downs

Autumn morning in the South Downs National Park

Some of the most interesting aspects of the South Downs landscape emerge on these shorter autumn days.  From walks on misty mornings to stargazing in the black skies at night, it’s a great spot for a few days away.

The South Downs Way is a 100-mile-long National Trail and the section from Lewes to Alfriston is a favourite. From the historic market town of Lewes, wind your way amongst the golden leaves and stunning British countryside to the chocolate box village of Alfriston. With its cute tea shops, village green and beautiful little streets, a call in at Alfriston Clergy House is a must. Pick up one of the English varieties of apples grown here or perhaps a pumpkin.

Bed down at YHA South Downs


Stratford-upon-Avon bridge

Does a pleasant autumn afternoon taking a boat out on the river Avon sound like your thing? Then head to Stratford-upon-Avon where you can hire a boat or take a river cruise until the end of October and watch as the swans follow. You may even spot a kingfisher, moorhen or a heron. After you’ve ambled down the river, walk through the crispy leaves following the footsteps of William Shakespeare.

Visit Shakespeare’s New Place for its extensive gardens which will be awash with autumnal colours and decorated with Shakespeare-inspired sculptures. Then saunter to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage which is a gorgeous Tudor building set in a quintessential English garden.

If you fancy something a little different go to nearby Batsford Arboretum with its 56 acres of garden and magnificent coloured trees, shrubs and plants – they’re running an autumn photography workshop.

Get some shut eye at YHA Stratford-upon-Avon

Did you know?

Leaves turn a different colour in the autumn due the days getting shorter and there being less sunlight. This is a signal for the leaf to prepare for winter and to stop making chlorophyll. Once this happens, the green colour starts to fade and the reds, oranges and yellows become visible.

Discover more autumn escapes with YHA.

Photo credit: Nigel / Ivan / meandering emu / veneration / moofushi / SuxxesPhoto / shaun / Adobe Stock

Written by Jo Avery

Jo works in YHA's communications team, writing about travel and adventures for all. She loves curling up with a good book and a large mug of tea, ambling through wheat fields in Derbyshire with her family and dog and holidaying beside the seaside.

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