Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Scotland’s Loch Lomond is a treasure to visit any time of year, but autumn may just be the best. For starters, it’s much less busy than in summer, there’s no plague of midges to contend with, and on a still, sunny day, the sight of the golden, russet leaves reflected in the water at Balmaha Bay is quite simply breath-taking.
Brave the chill on a crisp October morning to see the morning mist hang enchantingly over the water, here or at one of the Trossachs’ many picturesque lochs.
To see the changing trees at their best, visit the Argyll Forest in the Cowal Peninsula and take a walk-through magical Puck’s Glen. Keep your eyes peeled for a red squirrel among the mossy ancient trees, as they frantically store up acorns to last the winter months.
Another bonus of visiting the park when the days are getting shorter? Longer, crisper nights mean better stargazing, and in the autumn and winter months you have a better chance of seeing the amazing northern lights.
Stay in the Best Western The Crianlarich Hotel and you’re a mere 15-minute drive from the delights of the park.
The Lake District, Cumbria
The Lakes are incredibly popular and with good reason, but if you can’t face the crowds, try visiting in autumn instead. Head up to Castle Crag for a bird’s eye view of the patchwork of autumn hues in Borrowdale, the most wooded valley in the region. Or walk between the idyllic Grasmere and Rydal Water to see stunning reflections of the changing leaves, aglow in the late afternoon sun.
Notoriously, it can get a little wet and rainy in the Lakes in autumn, but there’s no shortage of cosy pubs and quaint tearooms to hole up in when the weather takes a turn.
Autumn’s also a good time to visit the Lakes’ popular National Trust properties. The Rock Garden at Sizergh Castle is particularly stunning when the acers start turning red, and the autumn-flowering climbers begin to bloom. Over at Acorn Bank, the Virginia Creeper cascading down the house begins to turn a vibrant crimson and the cherry trees are laden with fruit, ripe for the picking.
Enjoy a stay in the Lakes this autumn at the Castle Inn Hotel, BW Signature Collection in Bassenthwaite.
The New Forest, Hampshire
This gorgeous and diverse area of protected woodland is without doubt one of the best places to enjoy the spectacle of the changing trees. There are miles of walking and biking trails to enjoy in this National Park, but for a snapshot, visit the ornamental woodland at Boldrewood, home to an array of native and more exotic species that turn into a rainbow of colour come autumn time.
In early autumn, the flowering heather turns the heathland into a spectacular sea of purple and if you’re lucky you might just catch the majestic stags rutting, as they fight for the right to pass on their genes to the next generation of deer.
The New Forest is also home to the ancient tradition of Pannage, where domestic pigs are released into the woodland each autumn to dine on fallen nuts, protecting the native ponies from eating green acorns that could make them sick. Keep an eye out for the pannage piggies as you forage around the forest for blackberries, mushrooms, nuts and other natural autumn treats.
Check in to the Best Western Chilworth Manor Hotel for your autumn escape to the New Forest.
The Pembrokeshire Coast, Wales
Early Autumn is the best time for seal-watching on the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast. As the leaves start to turn, the female Atlantic grey seals come ashore to pup. Take your binoculars out for a walk along the Coast Path to spot the adorable, fluffy little pups enjoy their first few weeks of life fattening up for the adventures ahead.
Around this time, the Welsh coast also welcomes thousands of wintering waterbirds to its shores. The estuary at Angle and the wetlands at Castlemartin are the winter getaway for many different species of wader, including lapwings, golden plovers, greenshanks, godwits and snipes.
Discover the Pembrokeshire’s Coasts autumn wildlife with a stay at the Best Western Lamphey Court Hotel & Spa.
The Somerset Levels and Moors
Chilly mornings in the low-lying Somerset levels are truly magical, thanks to the atmospheric blanket of mist that settles on the rural countryside. The wetlands here are also a fantastic, and often overlooked place for appreciating nature. Crunch through fallen leaves in the Aller and Beer Woods to discover a host of fascinating fungi. And visit Westhay Moor to greet the winter waders and migrating ducks as they arrive for the season.
As the dark closes in, turn to the skies to see the start of the incredible starling murmuration season, where thousands of starlings perform spectacular aerial displays that put the Red Arrows to shame.
Autumn is also an important time in Somerset’s cultural calendar, with the cider apple harvest a long-standing tradition. There’s a whole season of festivities to discover across the county during the harvest months. Fancy getting involved? The National Trust invites you for fun apple-picking days at the Avalon Orchards below iconic Glastonbury Tor.
Enjoy a luxury autumn break in Somerset at the Best Western Plus Swan Hotel in Wells.