Explore the best of the English countryside with inspirational walking routes through woods and historical gardens
From Cornwall to the Lake District, find out where to see the changing leaves this autumn with 10 great seasonal walks.
1. Derwentwater, Lake District
One of the loveliest flat walks in the Lakes is this 10-mile loop around Derwentwater, starting from Keswick town centre. Especially beautiful in autumn, this waymarked trail along easy paths takes you around the pebbled lake shore and through ancient woodland, making a wonderful, leisurely day walk. The website includes route details and a map.
If you don't want to walk the whole way, you can catch the Keswick Launch across the lake back to the marina and enjoy close-ups of Derwentwater’s islands.
Lying between Bassenthwaite Lake and the peak of Skiddaw, Parkergate Cottages make a fantastic base for exploring the Lake District – recently anointed a World Heritage Site – with easy access to the market town of Keswick. Members can also get exclusive savings on Autumn breaks in the Lake District.
2. Sculpture Trail, Forest of Dean
Kick through the golden foliage as you spot art among the trees on the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail. There are currently 17 sculptures to find along the 3.5 miles of the trail, created by different artists. It includes pieces that range from thought-provoking to awe-inspiring, including a huge stained glass window that hangs over the path and catches the forest light.
The free way-marked trail starts and ends at the rear of the Forestry Commission, Beechenhurst picnic site.
Whitemead Forest Park is set in the heart of the Forest of Dean and is an ideal setting for admiring the changing colours of the leaves.
Some more ways you can enjoy some fresh air this autumn:
3. Buchan Country Park, Sussex
Take a gentle stroll through Buchan Country Park, beneath the colourful canopy of old pines, alder trees and young oaks. Boasting 170 acres of beautiful countryside, and ample opportunity to spot wildlife, the park has won the Green Flag Award, recognising the UK's best green spaces, every year since 2010.
The park has a network of paths so you can enjoy the changing leaves in all weather conditions, with access for pushchairs and wheelchairs around many of them. Download a Buchan Country Park trail guide. Nearby Ghyll Manor is a 17th-century country house that blends period features with modern comforts. If you’re a Boundless member, get exclusive discounts when you stay at Ghyll Manor this autumn.
4. Batsford Arboretum, Cotswolds
Batsford Arboretum puts on a particularly good show for autumn. Its magnificent collection of trees and plants includes many species of acers and Japanese maples, which are much-loved by visitors for their fiery autumn colour. Pines provide year-round evergreen as a backdrop, while mountain ash and whitebeam varieties are well known for their autumn berries and vibrant colour.
Our Boundless Cotswold Cottages are set in an area of outstanding natural beauty and just a short drive away.
5. Millook Circular Walk, Cornwall
With fewer holidaymakers about, autumn is an ideal time to head to Cornwall. The Millook Circular Walk gives you the best of both worlds, incorporating autumn colours with spectacular coastline. The 4.8 mile route winds through ancient woodland and past clifftop views to the pebbled shores of Millook beach, a notorious spot for smuggling in the 18th century. Enjoy spectacular views over Bude Bay on the way back.
Treworgie Barton Cottages are an ideal base to explore the most unspoilt areas of North Cornwall.
6. Rivington Terraced Gardens, Lancashire
Rivington’s gardens were created by renowned landscape designer Thomas Mawson for English industrialist and philanthropist Lord Leverhulme, but after Leverhulme’s death in 1925 they fell into a state of disrepair. The terraces and pathways soon became cloaked in climbing plants and wandering tree roots, and the once-extravagant archways and staircases, built throughout the woods, began to crumble.
But it’s this very disorder that today makes the woodland such a special place to visit. A 2.7-mile (4.3km) walk guides visitors through this lost world, past The Ravine cascades, the Japanese water gardens, the distinctive Pigeon Tower and the old kitchen gardens. It’s the perfect day out for families with a sense of adventure.
Discover more details with Countryfile's guide to the walk around Rivington Terraced Gardens.
7. Rhinefield Forest, Hampshire
Discover some of England’s tallest trees with a gentle 3.2-mile walk through Rhinefield Forest in the heart of the New Forest National Park. Native oak, ash and beech can be seen throughout the walk, but it’s the enormous redwoods and Douglas firs, planted by the Victorians in the mid-1800s, that steal the show for many. Some of these arboreal specimens rise more than 50 metres above the forest floor.
Keep an eye out for a pair of magnificent giant sequoias near the start of the route, as well as a worthy diversion to the magnificent Blackwater Arboretum.
If you’re walking with limited mobility, you can still absorb the grandeur of this sylvan landscape thanks to the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, which cuts through the heart of the forest.
8. Blickling Estate, Norfolk
With such an array of intriguing features, this short circular 1.8-mile National Trust walk around Blickling Park is ideal for people of all ages. It’s a multi-use trail too, making it suitable for pushchairs, wheelchair-users and cyclists, as well as walkers, no matter what the weather.
The track begins at Blickling Hall, passing the 18th-century Tower before wending through the Great Wood to one of Norfolk’s most iconic buildings, the Mausoleum, built from 190,000 Portland stone blocks.
After a stretch through the The Beeches, particularly elegant in the autumn months, the trail returns to the Hall where weary bodies can refuel on tea, coffee and cake at the Muddy Boots café. Entrance to the park, including the walk and the cafes, is free, but parking costs £5 if you’re not a National Trust member.
9. Fountain’s Abbey, North Yorkshire
The spectacular ruins of the 12-century Fountain’s Abbey and the serene Studley Royal Water Gardens are a joy to visit in autumn as the surrounding landscape blushes beetroot, crimson and yellow. There are a number of paths that criss-cross the estate, including a five-mile walk around the National Trust Fountain’s Abbey that starts and ends at the abbey itself.
It’s a truly sensory experience: the scent of windfall apples defuses from the orchard by Fountains Mill; sweet chestnuts crunch beneath muddy boots; and the sound of clashing antlers echoes around the grounds as the resident deer endure their annual rut.
After your walk, you can enjoy the abbey’s tearoom, shop, and plant centre, and there’s parking too. Entrance is free for National Trust and English Heritage members.
10. Cragside, Northumberland
Cragside, Lord and Lady Armstrong’s country retreat, was built employing their knowledge of art and science, as well as their wealth: constructed in the late 19th century, it was the first home in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. This marvel of the Victorian era, filled with artwork, animal specimens and curious gadgets, is open to the public all year and provides a great base for exploring the surrounding grounds.
A 2.4-mile walking trail around Cragside navigates the shores of Tumbleton Lake; it passes the Pump House – which supplied Cragside with water – before looping back to the house through the Pinetum.
There’s an adventure playground and Nelly's Labyrinth for the kids, as well as one of the largest rock gardens in Europe. Entry is free for National Trust members.
What's more, Boundless members can enjoy a 15% discount in store and online at Cotswold Outdoor, to make sure you're kitted out for these idyllic walks no matter the weather.