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Best Autumn Walks

By 9th October 2018Articles, Lifestyle, News

1. Slindon, West Sussex

© National Trust Images, John Miller

There’s a touch of Cinderella about this short South Downs stroll in autumn. The hill-nestled village of Slindon – a pretty cluster of brick-and-flint houses, in the care of the National Trust – is also the pumpkin capital of Great Britain: every October-November it hosts a festival featuring thousands of squashes. This easy 2-mile walk loops Slindon’s medieval deer park, via the haunting white trunks of the Slindon beeches (victims of the 1987 storms) and the Druid’s Grove, where some of the great trees survive. Finish amid the pumpkins and grab a local-made cake at the community-run Forge farm shop and cafe.

Route details available from the National Trust

Stay at Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa

2. Bourton-on-the-Water & the Slaughters, Cotswolds

© Cotswolds Tourism

The Cotswolds are picture-perfect Englishness year-round, but the warm, hazy light of autumn further enhances the glow of their gorgeous honey-hued stone, plus the hedgerows are berry-bright and the trees crisp. The summer crowds have waned too, making this a great time to walk between some of the area’s prettiest villages without the tourist hordes. This 11-mile loop from Bourton-on-the-Water follows the River Windrush across Cotswold countryside to Naunton (where you can warm up in the Black Horse Inn) before returning via time-warp-like Upper and Lower Slaughter, with their cute cottages, old stone bridges, and duck-dabbled rivers and ponds.

Route details available from Walking Britain

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3. Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Powys, Wales

© Canal & River Trust

The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal is bewitching in autumn, when the towpath becomes a tunnel of red-gold leaves, when atmospheric mist hangs upon the water and when the bonny-bright barges light their woodburners, filling the air their smoky scent. You can follow the gentle towpath for 35 miles from Brecon to Cwmbran. Or try a circuit from Talybont-on-Usk, which climbs into the hills, for great, golden views of the Usk Valley, Black Mountain Range and the highest reaches of the Brecon Beacons before following the canal back to the start.

Route details available from the Canal River Trust

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4. Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

© National Trust Images, Chris Lacey

There’s a little bit of everything on this 5-mile stroll around Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. The National Trust estate really shows off in autumn, with golden horse chestnuts and burning beech trees flanking the ruins and flashes of swamp cypress and Japanese maple in the formal gardens. Also, the small apple orchard is fit to burst and the red, fallow and sika bucks are beginning to get frisky in the medieval deer park. From the Visitor Centre, head towards the atmospheric remains of the 12th-century abbey, walk through woodland to the River Skell, cut through the deer park and see the warming fall colours reflected in the water gardens; there are also sweeping views to the North York Moors beyond.

Route details available from the National Trust

Stay at Yorebridge House

5. Grizedale Forest, Cumbria

© Amelia Harvey

At the heart of the Lake District, between Coniston and Windermere, Grizedale is glorious in autumn, when its larch, oak, beech and elder start to flame, providing a beautiful backdrop for the 40 sculptures that dot the valley. A range of waymarked paths lace the forest, including the short, easy Millwood Trail (good for little legs) and the strenuous 3-mile climb up Carron Crag, which affords panoramic lakeland views. However, the ultimate Grizedale hike is the 10-mile Silurian Way, a full tour of the forest and its alfresco art; look out for red deer, roe deer and red kites too.

Route details available from Forestry Commission England

Stay at Gilpin Hotel and Lake House

6. Loch Torridon, Scotland

© Visit Scotland, Kenny Lam

In autumn, the natural drama of Torridon is turned up to 11. Because at this time, the slopes and glens of this wild chunk of the Northwest Highlands echo to the sound of the rut, as red deer stags fight for the chance to mate. The moderate 8 mile Two Corries Walk links Coire Mhic Nobuil and Coire Dubh, both on the shores of Loch Torridon. It then leads into the mountains, between summits such as Liathach and Beinn Alligin (Gaelic for ‘Mountain of Beauty’). Admire the fall colours reflected in the water, look for golden eagles above the moors and listen out for the stags’ roar.

Route details available from the National Trust for Scotland

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Article written by Sarah Baxter

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