6 of the best autumn walks in the UK

As autumn sets the leaves ablaze with vibrant oranges, golds and crimsons, treat yourself toa countryside walk with jaw-dropping views

Autumn walk

Just as summer comes to a close, Mother Nature has the perfect pick-me-up – autumn landscapes cloaked in soft, golden-yellow sunshine – the perfect weather for autumn walks (need some advice on the best walking shoes for women? We have that covered...)

Our favourites include majestic waterfalls, towering gorges and magical forests, with lots of opportunities to see the best of the season’s flora, fauna and fungi.

We’ve rounded up five of our favourite autumn rambles, from beautiful waterfalls to leafy woodlands. The question is, which walk will you take on first?

Teign Gorge, Devon

River Teign, autumn walk

Tumbling from the windswept northern fringes of Dartmoor, the River Teign carves through a spectacular gorge where beech, larch, oak, horse chestnut and birch trees create fiery autumnal displays.

An ethereal morning mist clings to the valleys, and the calls of rutting deer add to the atmosphere.

Take in the splendour on a 7km Teign Gorge walking circuit, starting at the imposing Castle Drogo and climbing high along the ridge of the gorge, with magnificent views from Sharp Tor and Drogo Weir.

Visit the gorge just after the first heavy rains of autumn to witness one of nature’s magnificent displays, the running of the salmon up the River Teign.

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Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey

Winkworth Arboretum, autumn walk

Winkworth Arboretum flaunts a kaleidoscope of autumnal colour: the deep purples and reds of liquid amber blend with golden yellows of hickory and tulip trees, while Japanese and Norwegian maples glow in copper and crimson grandeur.

Weave through the woodland on a 5km stroll to the top of Hydon’s Ball memorial for spectacular views across Surrey, looking out for winter bird visitors, including meadow pipits and redwings.

Don’t miss the fabulous Katsuras trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), which give off a heady sugary scent at this time of year.

You’ll find a whole world of mushroom oddities between the trees, including magnificent giant puffball, oakbug milkcap, and orange-peel fungus.

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Gibside, County Durham

The Derwent Valley, Gibside, County Durham

Red kites, woodpeckers, roe deer, badgers, otters, and many other rare animals thrive at Gibside, just 15 km from the city of Gateshead.

As you rise out of the delectable Derwent Valley on the 7km circular skyline walk, you’ll amble through a copper-and-golden wonderland; en route, there’s a fascinating 18th century orangery ruin, where you can look out across the valley and the village of Rowlands Gill.

With miles of woodland and riverside routes to meander, there are plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy panoramic views.

Look out for rare waxcaps - sumptuously coloured fungi ‘jewels’ which light up the grassy fields and verges.

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North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

North York Moors National Park

Haunting moorland, lush valleys, pretty villages and rugged coastline, the North York Moors is a stunning place for an autumn walk. The National Park landscape comprises more than 1,400 miles of public footpaths and boasts 26 miles of stunning coastline.

Rievaulx Terrace is perfect for a gentle autumnal walk. These 18th-century landscape gardens were created for unwinding, relaxing and for spending time with others.

With views across the Hambleton Hills and down to Rievaulx Abbey, a walk along the Terrace will give you unrivalled views of the surrounding countryside.

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Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, Wales

Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, autumn walk

The ‘Mon & Brec’ canal rises high above the Usk valley floor, meandering through the Welsh countryside and offering terrific views for walkers.

Peaceful and rural, with a flavour of times gone by, the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal is often voted Britain’s prettiest canal.

During autumn, the mirror-glazed waters reflect glorious shades of ruby and gold as the trees change colour, and the wild Brecon Beacons add a fairytale glow to the surroundings.

Try the tranquil 10km section of towpath from Crickhowel to Langindyr, where the mountains rise above the treetops on the banks. Look out for rabbits and water vole, herons, moorhens, swans and kingfishers on the way.

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River Affric and Am Meallan, Inverness

River Affric and Am Meallan, Inverness, autumn walk

This restored wild forest in the Scottish Highlands conjures up a magical setting of dramatic hills, natural woodland, tumbling waterfalls and shimmering loch, where old Scots pine trees reach for the skies and auburn birches glow amongst a plethora of wild plants and fauna.

Take the 18km circuit around Loch Affric, or, for a short walk, the Am Meallan trail, a brisk climb which reveals a magnificent viewpoint across the loch and mountains. Look out for golden eagle, buzzards and red deer.

Glen Affric inspired many Victorian artists, and the iconic ‘Monarch of the Glen’, painted by Landseer, was set amidst this fine panorama.

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Helena Cartwright
Travel Editor

Helena is the Travel Editor for Woman & Home, Woman’s Weekly, Woman, Woman’s Own and Chat. As a journalist with 8 years’ experience, she has also worked for titles including Stylist, The Evening Standard and Heat.

She is a keen traveller who loves nothing more than exploring a new country. Her dream trip is a safari. A fierce animal lover, she dreams of seeing some of the big five out in the wild. Her wish-list also includes India – to explore her husband’s heritage more – as well as exploring more of America’s stunning national parks.