North Yorkshire Photo by Dan Smedley

Autumn: The Best Places to Visit in the UK

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The ultimate C&TH guide to Autumn: these are the best seasonal spots to visit in the UK

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Crunching over leaves in thick-soled boots, warm oranges and reds filling the trees, layered clothes and winter coats re-entering your wardrobe as that familiar chill appears in the air: autumn is sublime season. Looking for the best things to do and places to visit in the UK this season? Look no further – we’ve rounded up the best seasonal sojourns from every corner of the country. From leaf peeping hotspots in the countryside to cities with autumnal festivals or foodie festivities worth travelling to, autumn is one of the most beautiful times of year to visit the four corners of the UK. Start planning this autumn’s staycation adventures now.

Read the C&TH Responsible Tourism Guide

Where To Visit In Autumn In The UK

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Spring sunset over St Cross Hospital and the River Itchen in Winchester, Hampshire, UK

Journey to Winchester to Follow in Keats’ Autumnal Footsteps

Literature buffs: can you see autumn leaves without thinking of Keats? It is, after all, his ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’. Get into the real spirit of Keats’ Ode to Autumn by literally following in his footsteps on the easy two-mile walk he took while staying in Winchester, Hampshire as summer slipped into autumn in 1819 – inspiring his ode to the season’s harvest (‘fruitful’ is very literal in that sense).

HOW? Visit visit-hampshire.co.uk for the printable route.

Lucknam Park, autumn

Get Into The Autumn Spirit At Lucknam Park

Set across 500 acres of parkland and ancient woodland, bursting with orange leaves ripe for crunching, Wiltshire’s Lucknam Park is a sight to behold in autumn – and don’t they know it. The famed country house hotel has a curated selection of complimentary autumnal activities for 2022, including movie nights (complete with popcorn and chocolate), pony grooming, arts and crafts for youngsters (including spooky Halloween themed sessions), art classes for older guests, garden and sculpture tours, and forest bathing, alongside the classic countryside activities of tennis, croquet, cycling and ample country walks. At an additional cost, enjoy hacking at Lucknam Park’s renowned Equestrian Centre, falconry, archery, yoga, pilates, autumn table arranging sessions, or a trip to the spa. lucknampark.co.uk

Lake Windermere in the English Lake District taken at sunrise with vibrant colours and golden morning light.

Escape the Rain in Cumbria

The Lake District attracts millions of visitors every year and, situated in one of the UK’s rainiest regions, it is well-equipped to entertain even on wet autumnal days.

When the rain prevents you from admiring the ancient glacial landscape, head to Keswick Museum to see 500 million year old trilobite and Ice Age relics. Try Grasmere to learn about the famous William Wordsworth, or step back into Elizabethan times at Levens Hall and Gardens near Kendal; beautiful furniture, fine oak panelling and ornate plasterwork await.

HOW? Visit cumbriaslivingheritage.co.uk for more Cumbria activities.

Quaint cotswold cottages lining the old cobbles of The Chipping Steps, Tetbury, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, UK

Feel Royal in Tetbury, Gloucestershire

It’s always lovely, but the Cotswolds in the autumn is truly a sight to behold. If you’re looking for a twist on the typical hiking holiday, how about a bit of autumn antique shopping? We suggest you head to Tetbury (home to HRH Prince Charles) for a browse and a buy – there are over 20 dealers in the centre of town. Plus, you can combine it with a private visit to Prince Charles’ fabulous Highgrove Gardens if you book in advance.

HOW? visittetbury.co.uk

Minack Theatre

Head to the Minack Theatre in Penzance

Find yourself in West Cornwall? Pay a visit to the dramatic clifftop Minack Theatre. Rowena Cade created the stage in the 1930s for local Shakespeare enthusiasts to perform The Tempest by moving tonnes of boulders with the help of her gardener. Without doubt the most magical place in the country to go to the theatre, and there’s always plenty to see. This autumn, catch the West End’s Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of) for a hilarious twist on Jane Austen.

HOW? Booking ahead is essential. minack.com

Castle of Glamis in Angus area, Scotland.

Visit Glamis Castle in Angus

Said to be the most beautiful castle in Scotland, Glamis in Angus looks spectacular with leaves on the ground and is famed as being the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the childhood home of The Queen Mother.

HOW? glamis-castle.co.uk

High Force Waterfall, Bowlees Tees Valley, County Durham

Visit High Force Waterfall in County Durham

High Force Waterfall in County Durham is a sight to behold – the rocks have origins dating back over 300 million years. Follow a path through the gorgeous autumnal woodland to the base of the falls where the River Tees drops 21 metres into a plunge pool below. Situated in the Northern Pennines, this area is the darkest mainland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – providing unparalleled stargazing opportunities, and even the Northern Lights if you’re lucky.

HOW? Visit thisisdurham.com for more information.

Low tide on River Orwell at Pin Mill, Suffolk

Trail Along the Shotley Peninsula

Celebrate the author of Swallows and Amazons by taking the Arthur Ransome walking trail along the Shotley Peninsula. He moved here from the Lake District so that he could sail here, immortalising life on the river in We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea.

HOW? visitsuffolk.com

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Visit the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Loved the Fringe but didn’t manage to catch any of Edinburgh’s history and beauty? Luckily, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is still blooming marvellous in autumn. Enjoy the flora and fauna housed in impressive glasshouses and lovely gardens.

HOW? rbge.org.uk

Aerial view of Old Sarum in England

Visit Old Sarum in Salisbury

Old Sarum – around two miles north of Salisbury, Wiltshire – is a historian’s heaven. The earliest settlement in Salisbury, Old Sarum appears in some of the country’s earliest records. Now an English Heritage site, you can also see the site of Salisbury’s first cathedral, the Royal Castle built by William the Conqueror, and the Iron Age hillfort erected in 400 BC. Nearby, visit Stone Henge for a full historical immersion. This autumn, there will also be a half term Halloween special, where little ones can follow trails to solve creepy clues and gather round to listen to spooky stories.

HOW? Visit english-heritage.org.uk for more information and to book your visit.

Fishing Cottage on Gower Peninsular Rhossilli Bay Worm Rock Formation

Visit Worm’s Head, Rhossili Bay

Good walks are de rigeur in Wales, but have you been to the tip of Worm’s Head? This serpentine promontory will take you to the most westerly tip of the Gower Peninsula. But do check the tide times. You can get stuck out there like Dylan Thomas once did.

HOW? visitwales.com

New Forest

Take a Trip to the New Forest

Swathes of rich colour, crunchy leaves and a crisp bite in the air: the New Forest is a true autumnal delight. Visit in September to see the gorgeously contrasting pink and purple heather with green bracken and yellowing silver birch leaves.

Each autumn, the New Forest native breed ponies are rounded up on horseback for branding and worming. It’s fast, it’s furious and not a spectator sport but if you hear a load of hollering and the thunder of hooves, make a quick getaway.

HOW? thenewforest.co.uk

Montpellier in Harrogate and surrounding park space

Go for Afternoon Tea at Bettys in Harrogate

The afternoon tea at Bettys in Harrogate is legendary. Go and see what all the fuss is about and you won’t be disappointed by their selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes. While you’re in the area, Harrogate is a gorgeous Victorian spa town in the heart of Yorkshire – whether you’re there for the day or to make a weekend of it, there’s always plenty to see and do.

HOW? visitharrogate.co.uk

Jurassic Coast

Stroll along the Jurassic Coast

Love the sea air, even when the breeze is a bit brisker? Then take a stroll – or hike! – along the Jurassic Coast this autumn. Stretching for 96 miles from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay, this World Heritage Site traces the English Channel and spans 185 million years of geological history. Budding paleontologist in the family? There is no better place for fossil hunting.

An unrecognisable silhouetted woman in front of a bonfire

Celebrate Bonfire Night in on the Coast

Get fired up for the bonfire season by following the colourful, torch-lit processions along the Eastbourne seafront – this year, occurring on 1 October.

Then, make the trip to Lewes on 5 November for tar barrel rolling, marching bands and topical effigies.

HOW? Visit eastbournebonfiresociety.com and lewesbonfirecelebrations.com for more information.

Hever Castle

Fall in Love with Hever Castle in Kent

The setting of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s courtship, Hever Castle is best experienced in the autumn sun, when the Boston Ivy adorning the front of the castle turns a vivid shade of red. This September, performances of Julius Caesar will take place at the open air theatre, and there will be a ‘Halloween Scream’ fright night in October.

HOW? Visit hevercastle.co.uk for more information.

SS Great Britain

Check out SS Great Britain in Bristol

Regarded as one of the most important historical ships in the world, SS Great Britain was a feat of engineering. The largest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854, SS Great Britain provided a transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. Today, nautical enthusiasts can visit the ship docked in Bristol. With a museum, activities, and even the chance to climb the rigging, this is a fun day out for all the family.

HOW? Visit ssgreatbritain.org for more information and to book ahead.

GBR DUKES LONDON

Indulge in Delicious Cuisine During the London Restaurant Festival

October is the best time to visit London – at least, that’s what any foodie will tell you. Back this October for its 14th year, 350 restaurants will come together this autumn for the London Restaurant Festival.

Order a martini at Dukes Bar, Sir Ian Fleming’s bar of choice. Allegedly it was here that he coined the phrase ‘shaken not stirred’ – but, whether that’s true or not, Alessandro Palazzi still makes the meanest martini in town.

HOW? Tickets on sale from 13 September. Visit londonrestaurantfestival.com for more information.

Westonbirt Aboretum

Get Back to Nature at Westonbirt Arboretum

The best place to see autumn leaves in all their orange, red and golden glory, Westonbirt Arboretum has over 15,000 tree specimens in around 600 acres, plus a host of annual events and workshops, from pop concerts to chair-making. Little ones can admire the Gruffalo Sculptures or follow the Superworm trail. There’s also the Tree Top Walkway and plenty of walking trails for all to enjoy.

HOW? Visit forestryengland.uk to plan your visit.

Chatsworth House

Visit Chatsworth in Derbyshire

This gorgeous estate is always wonderful, but especially when the weather gets colder. Indulge in delicious farm-to-fork dishes and attend talks and tastings in the farm shop – there’s also wine and supper clubs running throughout the season. Or start the Christmas festivities early – the legendary Chatsworth Christmas market commences on 5 November.

HOW? Plan your visit at chatsworth.org

Aldeburgh from the town steps with flowers in the foreground

Visit the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival

Join Suffolk’s best producers for the annual Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival at the end of September, you’ll find everything from raw milk to cider, street food to award-winning spirits, plus live demonstrations.

HOW? 24-25 September 2022; visit aldeburghfoodanddrink.co.uk to book.

Powis Castle (Welsh: Castell Powis or Castell Coch) is a medieval castle, fortress and grand country mansion located near the town of Welshpool, in Powys, Mid Wales.

Visit Powys Castle and Garden

Welsh castles – as romantic as they are – can be a wee bit chilly which is why we suggest visiting ones where you can grab a hot cuppa, like at Powys Castle in Welshpool. This 13th century castle sits high above its celebrated gardens, with 30 ft high yew trees. On Saturday 17 September, entry is free to celebrate European Heritage Days, along with 150 other historic Welsh attractions.

HOW? nationaltrust.org.uk

 

Looking for the perfect hotel to accompany your trip this Autumn? Our Great British & Irish Hotels Guide has them all, handpicked and arranged by region. Available to purchase in hard copy here.

Featured image: North Yorkshire, by Dan Smedley