I love autumn; discovering nature’s bounty at its best and seeing the beautiful, colourful spectacle of the tree leaves turning.
It’s really the most interesting time of the year to go on a walk. Here are some of my favourite places to visit with the family. However, any local woods or green space is likely to have a lovely display.
Painshill Park at Autumn
The beautiful landscaped gardens of Painshill Park (which you may have glimpsed during the Bridgerton series!) have a host of attractions at any time of year. There’s the Gothic Temple, the Turkish tent, a 14-acre lake, the Temple of Bacchus, the fairytale crystal grotto and the Gothic tower to name a few.
Autumn only adds to its charms. There are a number of walking routes you can follow, which take in the Painshill sights. Additionally, its Autumn Tree Festival is on Sunday, October 23rd (10.00am–4.00pm). Activities on the day will include:
- Lathe wood turning demonstrations from the Surrey Association of Woodturners
- Autumnal themed craft activity
- Live music from Leech (acoustic set)
- Birds of Prey from London Falconry
- Local goods and craft stalls
It’s free for members. Non-members need to book general admission tickets, which will provide access to the park and the event: https://www.painshill.co.uk/visit-us/ticket-prices-booking/
Leith Hill (Dorking)
We had a great walk here a few days ago and whilst many trees hadn’t started to turn, there were plenty of autumn attractions. We did The Woodland trail, which is a great route of 2.5 miles (takes up to two hours). It takes you through woodland, up to Leith Hill Tower – where you can grab a cuppa and a sweet treat – and Leith Hill Place estate. This was home to Josiah Wedgwood III (of pottery fame) who was married to Caroline Darwin brother of naturalist Charles, and most recently composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.
We found a huge array of mushrooms, which the girls were fascinated by (for any other fungi enthusiasts, this is a great spotter book). There were great trees and we collected loads of sweet chestnuts, which we’ll be cooking up.
Here are the details of the different routes: https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/leith-hill/documents/leith-hill-trail-leaflet.pdf
Claremont Landscape Gardens (Esher)
Another National Trust favourite of ours near Esher. There are lovely landscaped gardens but with plenty of wild areas, and a big lake complete with plenty of wildlife an opportunities for boating. You’ll also find a very nice children’s play area (Queen Victoria used to play at Claremont when she was a child). There’s even an Enchanted Claremont Half Term Trail.
Find out more about what you can expect to see here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/claremont-landscape-garden/features/autumn-colour-at-claremont-landscape-garden
If you’ve exhausted the cafe there and fancy some extremely nice Spanish food then there’s José Pizarro at The Swan Inn pub nearby 🇪🇸.
Winkworth Arboretum at Autumn
What better place to witness autumn’s splendour than at an arboretum? Winkworth Arboretum comprises of 121 acres of wild woodland with over 1,000 species of trees and shrubs. It is wonderful at any time of year, but it is renowned for its displays in autumn.
On its Autumn Colour trails you’ll be treated to arrays of copper, amber, fiery reds, gold and about every other autumn hue imaginable. Booking is essential for all visits between now and the 20th of November. This is for both National Trust members and non members.
More details here:
There is also the Halloween trail this October half-term where children will discover the arboretum’s weird, wacky and wicked plants. More here.
Wisley in the Autumn (Woking)
RHS garden Wisley is vast and boasts a wide range of flora. As well as an arboretum, there’s Seven Acres with its wide open lawns, ponds and fine specimen trees. Oakwood is a hot spot for Autumn foliage, and you’ll be able to see many Autumn-flowerers in the Rock Garden, Alpine Display House and in all the borders.
“This autumn promises to be a good one; alongside fiery autumn foliage, cyclamen, colchicum and nerines are in full bloom, the Equinox Borders are at their flowering peak and the Mixed Borders still look spectacular.”Curator Matthew Pottage
This half term, there are a lot of activities on including the ‘Deadliest plants and bugs trail.’ Kids will be able to explore the world of deadly plants and clever bugs and creepy-crawlies, discovering how plants and insects use fangs, stings, spines and slime to defend themselves and their habitats.
Find out about all the half term activities here: https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley/whats-on/half-term
For full details of what’s looking good at Wisley right now, visit: https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley/explore-wisley/looking-good-now
Autumn at Polesden Lacy (Great Bookham)
From the South Lawn at Polesden Lacey, you can take in the lovely views of Ranmore Common. The ancient woodland has a diverse range of trees, which means it is awash with striking colours until late October. Perserve Copse has a variety of Acer trees. These provide a lovely display and there’s plenty to see in the Sunken Garden. There are also lots of trails to explore.
Additionally, there’s a new after-dark trail this autumn. IGNITE returns between Thursday, 20th October and Sunday, 6th November. Visitors can enjoy a walk through the gardens at night guided by flickering flames and glowing tunnels of trees with magical illuminated installations along the way. We loved last year’s event.
Enjoy your autumn walks and please share your favourites.