The best of UK autumn colours

By | Category: Travel news

“Red and orange and scarlet and gold, crimson and auburn it’s hue”… it’s an autumn rainbow of colours and you don’t have to fork out hundreds of pounds on a plane ticket to New England to be dazzled by this much-loved season.

Right on our doorstep is a wealth of woodlands, parklands, forests and gardens which all come alive in spectacular fashion every autumn.  Maples glow like rhubarb and custard, grand oaks and towering beeches flame auburn and gold, larches and broad-leaf woodlands slowly turn from green to russet and bright lemon-yellow and aspen and ash glow strawberry-blond.

Leave the greys of urban life behind you, with Travelodge’s guide to where to go to experience the best of UK autumn colours

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
Covering 600hundred acres, Westonbirt is one of the most spectacular tree gardens in the world comprising over 3,000 different trees and shrub species many of which are rare or endangered in their native lands. It boasts Britain’s largest collection of Japanese maples, which flame in vivid berry colours with splashes of saffron and orange. A specially designed seasonal trail snakes between towering oaks, beeches and horse chestnuts.
Location: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8QS
More information: or call 01666 880220

The High Weald, Kent
The Seven Wonders of the Weald are unique places to discover and all within easy reach of one another and offering the visitor ample opportunity to experience a variety of different outdoor attractions.  The diversity of the Seven Wonders of the Weald, and their setting, the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), makes visiting the attractions a must when venturing into the heart of the Kent & Sussex borders.

Bedgebury National Pinetum in Cranbrook has the finest collection of conifers in the world providing enjoyment to visitors who come to appreciate the beauty and tranquillity of this unique attraction, which nestles quietly among lakes and valleys in the Kent countryside.

In Brenchley, Marle Place is a peaceful, privately owned Wealden garden with ten acres of formal planting and many more acres of woodland and orchard which glow scarlet and gold in the autumn. It is a plantman and artist’s garden, featuring a Victorian gazebo, Edwardian rockery and walled fragrant garden. A restored 19th century greenhouse with orchid collection, a mosaic terrace and ornamental ponds.  Marle Place is situated close to the wonders of Scotney and Sissinghurst Castles which are both also worth an autumnal visit.
Locations: Bedgebury Pinetum, Goudhurst, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 2SL (01580 879820) and Marle Place, Brenchley, Tonbridge, Kent TN12 7HS (01892 722304)
More information:

Stourhead Gardens, Wiltshire
This world-famous 18th-century landscape garden and Palladian mansion is one the most beautiful National Trust properties, with landscaped gardens tumbling down to a vast lake.  The grounds are dotted with classical temples and follies and in the autumn tulip trees glow buttery-gold and American maples light up with scarlet hues. There are five waymarked woodland and chalk downland walks across the estate and you should allow an entire day to take in the beauty of this garden in autumn.
Location: Stourhead Estate Office, Stourton, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 6QD
More information: or call 01747 841152

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens, London
Autumn colours are at their most dramatic in the Woodland Garden, where maples add splashes of cherry-red and butter-yellow to the September bulbs including belladonna lilies. From October through November the last of the autumn colours comprise autumn flowering crocuses, colchicums and hardy cyclamen who poke their heads through the leaf covered floor.  For a real burst of fiery red, visit the Strawberry trees, west of King William’s Temple and between the Princess of Wales Conservatory and Rock Garden.
Location: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB
More information: or call

The Big Tree Country, Perthshire
Perthshire is home to some of Europe’s most remarkable trees and woodlands with forests, woods and country gardens offering a superb seasonal display of blazing golds and reds and all within easy reach of one another.

Some of the best sites include the Pass of Killiecrankie with its mixed woodland and abundant wildlife, the wonderful Meikleour Beech Hedge close to Blairgowrie (the tallest hedge in the world), the Birks of Aberfeldy, Kinnoull Hill and Moncreiffe Hill by Perth, Lady Mary’s Walk at Crieff and the larch covered hills around Dunkeld and Birnam.

The Autumn Colours Telephone Hotline operates from early October until mid November each year and provides updated information on where to see Perthshire’s rich leaf colour at its seasonal best. There is even a “Big Tree Country” brochure to help visitors see the wood and the trees!  You can pick up your free copy from any Perthshire Tourist Information Centre or visit the Big Tree Country website and start exploring dozens of wonderful woodland locations throughout the area.
Location: Perthshire
More information: or call the Autumn Colours Telephone Hotline on (01796) 472215/472751

Cwmcarn Forest, Caerphilly
Once a mining area, Cwmcarn is now a beautiful mature forest of larch and pine with hidden gems such as the Nant Carn Valley with native woodland and stream habitat. If you don’t feel like walking, there is a seven mile Forest Drive which provides the visitor with excellent views and picnic spots along its length. The drive is even signposted from junction 28 of the M4.
Location: Cwmcarn Forest, Caerphilly, Wales
More information:

Giggle Alley, Cumbria
On a low granite spur which has its footage in the southern flank of Scafell, is a small woodland intriguingly known as Giggle Alley. Hidden at the heart of this wood are the remains of a Japanese Garden. At its heart is a series of pools (now filled only when it rains) surrounded by bamboo, magnolia and maple trees.  In addition to the garden the woodland is a great place for a short family walk where children can enjoy playing hide and seek and adults can admire a riot of autumnal colours.
Location: Giggle Alley, Eskdale Green, Cumbria
Timing: Open daily
More information:

Lanhydrock, Cornwall
A magnificent late Victorian country house with extensive servants’ quarters, gardens and wooded estate, Lanhydrock reaches its spectacular best in the autumn, when scarlet acres and yellow tulip trees light up the parkland running down to the river Fowey.  There are numerous footpaths throughout the 900 acres of woodland, and the house itself is also worth exploring.  For ‘bored’ children there is an adventure playground complete with wobbly bridge, scramble nets and animal sculptures.
Location: Lanhydrock, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 5AD
More information: or call 01208 265950

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