In the USA ‘fall tourism’ is a big deal, with tourists flocking to the states of New England, Wyoming and Wisconsin each year to see stunning orange, red and brown foliage. With thanks to UK breaks specialist Forest Holidays, we’re taking a proverbial leaf out of the States’ book with a look at where in the UK is best to see the leaves change colour this autumn.
10. Reigate, Surrey
Reigate is a historic town in Surrey, England, at the foot of the North Downs. Passing through the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs, The North Downs Way National Trail offers walkers 153 miles of spectacular scenery, picturesque villages and glorious rolling countryside. Visitors to Reigate can take a trip to the town’s medieval castle, as well as exploring a section of the Greensand Ridge, a 40 mile long stretch of ridge with dense woodland and mixed greensand and sandstone escarpment.
9. Sherwood Forest
One of the most famous heritage forests in the UK, Sherwood is inextricably linked to tales of infamous outlaws and evil sheriffs. As well as annual Robin Hood festivals, Sherwood offers visitors beautiful autumn colours with species of oaks, rowans and hawthorns. Popular ways to explore the forest include on foot, on bike and on horseback, with a number of trek and bridle paths. Sherwood and Nottingham have some of England’s finest gold courses, and golfers can revel in the beautiful autumn scenery at the Coxmoor Golf Club and Sherwood Forest Golf Club.
8. Grizedale Forest, Lake District
Grizedale Forest Park lies in the heart of the Lake District between lakes Windermere and Coniston. From the Visitor’s Centre you can arrange activities that range from refreshing walks to swinging through the trees on GoApe, enjoying a leisurely meal in the Café to a more challenging MTB cycling route. Wildlife at Grizedale is flourishing, and as well as roe deer on the ground, walkers should look to the skies to try and spot kites, barn owls and buzzards.
7. Deerpark, Cornwall
Some call Deerpark the UK’s answer to Yosemite park, with its deep valleys, impressive domineering Redwoods, glorious lake and number of trickling streams. Deerpark is the perfect location for a Cornish holiday, with plenty of historical sight-seeing nearby at Herodsfoot’s old mine. Cornwall is one of the most beautiful counties in England, with a stunning coastal line as well as valleys and forests. Deerpark is close to the beaches at Polperro and Looe. Polperro is a picturesque harbour village with friendly little shops and galleries. Five miles along the scenic coastal path, Looe will reward you with a fine, sandy beach and a clutch of excellent restaurants.
6. Exbury Gardens, Hampshire
The Exbury Gardens are another Hampshire location that is brilliant for autumn scenery. The gardens belong to a branch of the Rothschild family and are situated in the village of Exbury, just to the east of Beaulieu across the river from Bucklers Hard. The gardens have amazing specimens of North American conifers, Japanese acers, American hardwoods, magnolias, cedars and oaks. The park even has a regular miniature steam railway for guests to ride around the gardens.
5. Cropton, Yorkshire
Making up part of the North York Moors, Cropton is one of Britain’s finest forests with many historical sites to visit, from ancient monasteries, abbeys and castles through to medieval stone crosses and standing stones. A good place to visit is the Moors Centre at Danby. It is a lovely drive over the moors via Rosedale and Castleton and takes around 30 minutes from Cropton. You can learn a lot about the area at the information centre and explore the immediate Danby locality with various walks.
4. Tiverton, Devon
The south west county of Devon has no end of excellent places to see the leaves turn in autumn. With Dartmoor and Exmoor, as well as coastal woodland, visitors won’t have to look far for splendid views. Stay in Tiverton for easy access to both of Devon’s moors and the seaside as well as local attractions such as the Dartmoor Steam Railway, Kents Cavern and the Kingswear Paddle Steamer.
3. Ardgartan, Argyll
On the west shore of Loch Long, the small village of Ardgartan has a beautiful location in Argyll Forest Park. Visitors to Ardgartan (meaning the High Garden in Gaelic) can see the dramatic autumn colours of the mountain forest reflected in Loch Long. The forest of Sitka and Norway spruce is an ideal habitat for red squirrels, roe deer and owls and visitors should keep their eyes peeled for otters and seals in the loch. Explore the area on bike, foot or horse bike with a number of trails running across the hills and down to the loch shore. Enjoy the stunning scenery at Arrochar, which sits in an idyllic location at the head of Loch Long, where the loch stretches into the distance against the backdrop of the Arrochar Alps.
2. Castell Coch
Castell Coch is a 19th-century Gothic Revival castle built on the remains of a genuine 13th-century fortification. As well as having a beautiful ornate interior, complete with extravagant furniture and opulent ceilings, Castell Coch is set in dense cooper beech woodland which turns a dramatic burnt orange from September to October. As well as the ancient beech wood trees that surround Castell Coch, the rocky outcrops are also of great scientific interest as they show the point where Devonian Old Red Sandstone and Carboniferous Limestone beds meet.
1. Blackwood Forest
In the heart of Hampshire, Blackwood Forest is famous for its seasonal beauty, with a carpet of violet bluebells in the spring and bright yellow and orange leaves forming on the beech trees come autumn. Close to the village of Micheldever, Blackwood forest is within easy reach of historical attractions including the Beaulieu Motor Museum, Highclere Castle and Jane Austen’s house museum. Hampshire’s boasts some of England’s finest forest areas and is popular with ramblers, with walks like the South Downs Way National Trail and the Wayfarer’s Walk.