Britain’s best Autumn walks

David Knockton / 02 November 2015

You don’t need to visit New England to enjoy the fall colours; there are acres of glorious oak forests right on our doorstep, where the myriad of autumn colours will take your breath away.

Grizedale, Cumbria

Situated in the heart of the Lake District, this forest park takes on a new life this time of year with the changing colours of the leaves, and the nearby fells – which can be viewed from a number of high points within the forest – also look superb in autumn.

There are a number of walks that weave through the forest, one of the most popular being the three-mile Bogle Crag Trail, which takes you through oakwoods which were once used extensively for iron smelting (a potash pit is still visible). 

Look out for the mellowing colours of ancient beech trees and also Andy Goldsworthy’s famous sculptures. 

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Dove Crag, Northumberland

See the changing colours of ancient, semi-natural oak woodland on a four-mile, circular walk from Holystone to Dove Crag.

The waymarked walk passes through North Wood (look out for red squirrels), which is stunning this time of year and one of Britain’s most extensive upland oakwood areas, parts of which have survived since 1600. 

The trail then rises to heather moorland scattered with juniper and birchwoods, where you can see the rich-yellow needle display of the larches, which “turn” each October. When you reach Dove Crag you will be rewarded with breathtaking views – on a clear day you can see as far as the Northumberland coast. 

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Knightwood Oak Trail, New Forest

Of all the seasons, the New Forest is undoubtedly at its most beautiful in autumn, when the trees become awash with colour – vibrant oranges, yellows and reds – striking against the backdrop of vast open heath and moorland. 

For a lazy Sunday afternoon walk, follow the short (1/4 mile) waymarked circular Knightwood Oak Trail, which guides you through an area of ancient woodland around the Knightwood Oak – also known as the 'Queen of the Forest', it is the largest oak in the New Forest with an incredible 7.4m girth, and is estimated to be between 400 and 600 years old. 

If you have time, continue down Ornamental Drive to the nearby deer sanctuary. 

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Woodpecker Trail, Northamptonshire

Just seven miles from the centre of Northampton lies one of Britain’s most remarkable forests – Salcey Forest.

It is a former medieval hunting forest, known for its 'druid' oaks (some of which are believed to be over 500 years old) and its beeches – the changing colours of the leaves in October are quite a sight. 

There are public footpaths that wind through the forest, but to really appreciate the forests' myriad of colours you have to get above ground level – there is a tree top walk that allows you to enjoy the view from 65ft up in the canopy (the walk can be busy at weekends so go midweek). 

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Cardinham Woods, Cornwall

Cornwall isn't all about the coast – it is also home to Cardinham Woods, one of the country's finest forests, made up on an incredible 650 acres of scenic woodland, which makes for a fantastic autumn ramble. 

Follow the Lady Vale Walk – a gentle two-mile trail that hugs the Cardinham Water River for its whole length, taking you through a steep forested valley, with oak, alder, rowan and willow trees.

Not only are the colours of the woodland superb this time of year (expect a brilliant display of red and gold leaves), but autumn is also a good time of year to spot deer and birds, ranging from the tiny treecreeper to the buzzard. 

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