Here at Muddy Puddles, Autumn is one of our favourite Seasons. We love the incredible reds, golds, and rich brown colours that envelop our forests, parks and gardens, and for little ones the Autumn season provides an abundance of sensory opportunities – from kicking leaves, to searching for conkers, and even creating their own den.
In the UK we’re spoilt for choice, with a huge number of forests, national parks and country estates to choose from. We’ve put together a list of our top 10 walks for the very best Autumn colour. Just make sure you wrap up warm, take a good pair of wellies, and take lots of photos of your Autumnal adventure.
1) South Downs National Park, Hampshire/Sussex
The South Downs National Park is a magical place to visit at any time of year, but the countryside really comes alive in Autumn, with misty mornings and crunchy leaves. Over a quarter of the park is covered in glorious woodland, with captivating Autumn colours that children and adults of all ages will love. We love Alice Holt Forest in Hampshire, which has 6 walking trails, Gruffalo sculptures, a Zog trail, and a Go Ape centre – plenty to keep the whole family entertained.
2) Painshill Park, Surrey
Painshill Park is an 18th Century landscape garden in Surrey, inspired by landscape paintings with a sequence of breath-taking views. It has two walking trails which allow visitors to take in the many vistas – including the vineyard, gothic temple, ruined abbey, crystal grotto, serpentine lake, five arch bridge (where Bridgerton was filmed), temple and gothic tower. It also has a lovely natural play area to keep little ones happy, and this Autumn, Painshill have created a Fairy Door Trail, running from 21st October – 12th November.
3) Dartmoor National Park, Devon
The Dartmoor National Park is one of the best areas of outstanding natural beauty that the UK has to offer, and in Autumn the incredible colours and morning mist can’t be beaten. It is also the time of year when the herds of wild ponies are ‘drifted in’ to the farms, which is really exciting to see. Visit Dartmoor’s Autumn Stomp is the perfect way to see the very best of Autumnal Dartmoor, and passes by a 16th century leat, a Victorian reservoir, lofty tors, rolling fields and wooded valleys.
4) Wakehurst Botanic Garden, West Sussex
Wakehurst Botanic Garden in the heart of Sussex, is home to over 500 acres of diverse landscapes and plants from across the globe. In the Autumn months it is transformed with fiery red, copper and gold colours, and stunning reflections in the lake. Wakehurst’s Autumn highlights include the Westwood Lake, its collection of horse chestnut trees, the water garden and Elizabethan mansion. For little ones, there are plenty of natural play spaces to discover, including a log trail and labyrinth.
5) Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey
Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey is one of the best places in the South East for Autumnal colour. When Autumn arrives it becomes a feast for the eyes, with yellows, oranges and reds as far as the eye can see. With three routes to choose from, over 120 acres of woodland, and a natural play area for children, a trip to Winkworth is a lovely day out for the whole family.
6) Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire
Ilkley Moor lies towards the south of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, just outside Bradford. From the middle of August large areas of the moor turn purple as the heather begins to bloom, and early Autumn is the best time of year to see this incredible blanket of vibrant colour. The five heritage walks on Ilkley Moor are perfect for Autumn colour and showcase the most interesting sites on the moor, including the Neolithic stones, cow and calf, twelve apostles, white wells moorland, and cup and ring stones.
Sheffield Park and Garden is an informal landscape garden five miles east of Haywards Heath, in East Sussex, England. It was originally laid out in the 18th century by Capability Brown, and further developed as a woodland garden in the early 20th century. It is famous for its Autumn colour, and this is the season that the garden was planted for – with brilliant displays of reds, oranges, purples and greens. Make sure that you book ahead to avoid disappointment.
8) Gibside, Tyne and WearGibside is one of a few surviving 18th-century designed landscapes and was fashioned with two things in mind: spectacular vista views and ‘wow’ moments. The estate offers a glimpse into the past and the compelling story of heiress Mary Eleanor Bowes, and includes miles of tranquil walks, wildlife spotting and picnic spots. During Autumn, there is plenty of parkland to explore – wander through the garden to the orangery, crunch through the leaves on a stroll to the ruin, and admire the shades of yellow, orange and red as you walk along the tree-lined avenue. There’s even a pumpkin patch selfie station for the whole family to enjoy!
9) Stourhead Gardens, Wiltshire
Stourhead is a 1,072-hectare estate at the source of the River Stour in south west Wiltshire. In the Autumn, it becomes spectacular with every shade of red, orange and yellow dominating the landscape. There is a wonderful selection of temples including Classical temples, Temple of Flora, Temple of Apollo plus a rock bridge and cascade, all of which are situated around the tranquil lake. The view from the temple of Apollo has been described as one of the most picturesque scenes in the world, and was even featured in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden.
10) Blickling Estate, Norfolk
At Blickling Estate, a breath-taking Jacobean mansion and ancient yew hedges sit at the heart of a magnificent garden and historic park in the beautiful Bure meadows. We love the Estate Walk, a 4.5 mile stroll through ancient woodland with stunning views, where barn owls can be seen hunting for food across the park. The Earthy Autumn tones which surround the lake are incredible to see, and the crisp mornings and misty sunrises are undeniably good for the soul.