Looking for a spot of leaf peeping? It’s another of those American phrases catching on here, and we love it…
While 2022 was a bit of a disappointment after summer droughts dimmed autumnal colours, this year’s wet weather looks set to bring more dazzling displays to Britain’s woodlands and forests.
So, here are a few ideas for some top spots to take in the nature’s autumn spectacle.
An ‘Ode to Autumn’ in Hampshire
From one of England’s favourite autumnal poems, to spectacular autumnal woodland walks, Hampshire offers the perfect spot for celebrating nature’s seasonal show. Keats’ Ode To Autumn – inspired by the scenery the poet saw during a stay in Winchester, in 1819 – has helped to make Hampshire synonymous with a season famous for its falling leaves and spectacular colours. Winchester not only offers a base for walks directly from the city centre into the South Downs National Park, but also a chance to a follow in the poet’s footsteps. For top autumn walks, Visit Hampshire has a handy guide to the best (https://bit.ly/478aCmf), while for visitors who like to combine a walk with a pint, savour some autumn pub walks (https://bit.ly/49arlav).
Photo: Autumnal Winchester – credit Javaid Akhtar
Big skies, golden tints… and fairy trails
Boasting Capability Brown parkland, woodland walks, a mile-long lake and award-winning gardens, Trentham Gardens, on the edge of Stoke-on-Trent, has long offered a colourful seasonal spectacle. Trentham enjoys big skies and open vistas, with a dramatic “floor to ceiling” range of autumnal colours reflected in the lake, creating a photographer’s dream. Autumn also provides a stunning backdrop for the growing sculpture installations within the gardens – including the magical Fairy Trail – which take on a seasonal look with dew and mists adding to Trentham’s line-up of photo opportunities. www.trentham.co.uk
While the House closes in October, a blaze of golden leaves around the sweeping parkland provides a colourful backdrop to Lincolnshire’s Burghley House. The parkland is open all year and free to enter (except on event days). Designed by ’Capability’ Brown in the 18th century, it is rich in ancient trees as well as sweet chestnut and Sycamore Maple, the leaves of which turn intense in autumn, from gold-yellow to red. Meanwhile, in a first for Burghley, there will be more time to enjoy the gardens this year, with the Sculpture Garden and Garden of Surprises, which normally close at the end of October, open for six winter weekends between 4 November and 17 December. www.burghley.co.uk
A clear reflection
East Yorkshire’s Pocklington Canal is one of the country’s best canals for nature and virtually the whole length falls within one of three Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The clear waters of this 200-year-old canal reflect the changing colours of the autumnal trees that line the towpath, with its picturesque locks and elegant bridges adding to the natural beauty of this Canal and River Trust waterway (https://bit.ly/3bX5qGI). Just a short drive away, enjoy autumnal colours in the picturesque Millington Wood. Regarded as the best ancient ash woodland in the Yorkshire Wolds, in autumn and winter the trees turn orange and yellow (https://bit.ly/3SltzxY).
Journey around a world of colour
Wander Staffordshire’s amazing Biddulph Grange Garden and the world is your oyster… in a horticultural sense. Take a round-the-world trip in this masterpiece of Victorian garden design, which takes visitors on a global journey from Italy to the pyramids of Egypt, a Victorian vision of China and a re-creation of a Himalayan glen. A quirky, playful paradise, the garden was created by horticulturist James Bateman for his collection of plants from around the world, and autumn is perhaps when the gardens are at their most striking. Autumn colour is spectacular and probably most stunning in the Chinese garden where the golden larch is truly golden and the acers are ablaze with reds and oranges, while in ‘Egypt’, a beech hedge – the only non-evergreen hedge in the garden – comes alive in autumn too. https://bit.ly/40hB5f6