There’s no denying we love summer here in the UK. When you live somewhere that’s known for its biting winds, puddles that soak into your shoes on the way to work, and almost daily encounters with what feels like frostbite during the winter seasons, you grow to love the warmth of sun on your bare skin.
But it’s impossible to ignore that season in between. Like a buffer coaxing us into remembering the beauty of a world slightly cooler, slightly slower, slightly overcast. A season that burns red and orange, such colours that seem almost inconceivable. The kinds of colours that need no embellishment, no enhancement when shared on social media. A world suddenly filled with views so electric, it’s hard to believe they’re #unfiltered.
Autumn. Fall. A season when twinkly lights are strung above fireplaces, Harry Potter reruns begin, mulled cider appears on the menu at your local pub, and cosy knitted coats once again see the light of day. We love to love Autumn here in the UK. In fact, we'd argue it's the best time of year to explore the UK on holiday.
We know it’s not always possible, with life and school and work always getting in the way. But if you can manage to swing it and take a trip in the UK during September, October or November, you’ll be treated to a dust of cinnamon on your coffee in the morning. The first signs of your breath on the air in a quiet autumnal forest. The glow of orange leaves hanging over a still loch in the north of Scotland.
And you have so much to choose from in the UK. Maybe you’re looking to lose yourself in the wildness of Wales’ national parks. Or stroll down a cobbled street in a quiet English village. Perhaps it’s the mysticism of Scotland’s Highlands that you’re desperate to see. Wherever you end up, there’s plenty to do. Almost too much. So, where do you start? Below we’ll run you through some of our top picks for the best things to do in Autumn in the UK.
This is it. That moment you’ve been looking for on your trip. Douglas firs tower overhead. Not to mention their friends: oak, hazel and birch. If not for their falling golden leaves, you’d think they were statues. But you know they’re alive, and they’re watching out for you as you explore their home. They’re proud creatures, after all, some of the tallest trees in the whole of Britain. A playground for their friends, the red squirrels. Darting among the trees, across a pine needle blanketed ground, around odd little totem poles.
But there’s more to the Hermitage than the woodlands. Hear that? The firs are sheltering something thunderous. As you stroll along the calm river, soon you see it. Black Linn Falls pouring out over the boulders, churning the water below.
You step inside Ossian’s Hall, a wee temple that fits in so perfectly with its surrounds, you consider if it was in fact grown right up out of the ground like the trees surrounding it. Though you’ve been told it was built by the Duke of Atholl in the 1700s, a retreat from the pressures of daily life. Now it’s for you to use, to see everything the Hermitage has to offer from its wonderous viewpoint.
With its sharp turrets skewering the sky and surrounding decadent landscapes, Carlowrie Castle looks like it’s stepped right out of a gloomy children’s picture book. Though she’s a chameleon through-and-through. Catch her on a dreary cloud-covered day, and you might just start believing in ghost stories. But see her glistening in the glow of the rare Scottish sun and you’ll believe in fairytales instead.
But we want to see her drenched in blood. Blood-red vines, that is. For in Autumn, Carlowrie’s façade of vines soak in the colour of the season, and it looks as if she’s been dressed up in the innards of some beautiful dead creature. Or perhaps that’s what she is.
No matter what time of year you visit, these 32-acre grounds are absolutely stunning, covered in an array of beautiful plants, many of which are rare species brought from overseas by the compelling Isobel Wylie Hutchinson. Growing up in the bones of the castle, Isobel turned to the greater outdoors when she lost both her father and brothers in quick succession. This sparked a passion for nature and exploration, and Isobel grew up to become a successful Artic explorer and botanist. Today, you can see her passion throughout the property’s gardens.
It’s hard to narrow this one down. But that’s half the fun. Head north of Edinburgh anytime in Autumn and you’ll see it. That brush of purple, like a beautiful bruise across the perfect landscape that is Scotland.
Because this is the real Scotland. A rolling glen stretched out before you, completely embracing the season with the beauty of one of Scotland’s national flower, heather.
There’s something about that name. The Cotswolds. Why does it evoke such a warm feeling, like flutter in the chest upon seeing a loved one, or the spread of heat across your frozen hands as you hold them out towards the fireplace?
Perhaps it’s because this is one of the most famous places in England, and Castle Combe holds the honour of being known as one of prettiest villages in England. Honey-hued stone facades and trickling streams. How can you not fall in love here? With Castle Combe. With the Cotswolds. With the possibilities and beauty of life.
And as you walk with golden leaves underfoot and a cool breeze fluttering at the end of your scarf, you feel grateful a place like this exists just for you. The pub is open, and a glass of cider is calling you in.
We’d love to take you there ourselves. It’s now just up to you to decide which tour is for you. Perhaps the 2-day Windsor, Stonehenge, Bath & Oxford tour? Or the 1-day Centuries of Stories: Stonehenge & the Cotswolds tour?
All around you, the Wye Valley sings of colour and passion and history. Silurian Limestone dominates the landscape. Cave systems hide away beneath you. A gorgeous river commands the attention of everything around it, yourself included.
And tucked up within this Area of Outstanding National Beauty, the spectacular Forest of Dean runs amuck. With over 20 million trees, how could it be anything but a riot of colours and smells and incredible specimens? Oak, ash, birch, beech, sweet chestnut... all your favourites are there.
When Autumn settles, the forests and rolling landscapes of these stunning regions ignite with the glow of this most passionate season. Golden hues burning a haze over the vibrant waters of the River Wye. Trees shedding their leaves in preparation for their quiet season. But the thing about beauty is, it never truly rests. And you can visit the Wye Valley on 2-day Stratford–upon–Avon, Oxford & the Cotswolds tour and 3-day The Mountains & Coasts of South Wales tour.
7,000 years ago, Scotland was covered in rainforests. But climatic conditions and human activity transformed the country into a mix of mighty castles, bare mountains, and reputable cities. Yet, there’s a place that’s almost unchanged. A small region that hid away and clung to its ancient wildness.
They call it Glen Affric.
145 square kilometres of forest canopies, rivers, stags, and snow-crested mountains. She’s known as Scotland’s most beautiful glen. Everywhere you look – creaking pine trees, dark and abyssal lochs, and mountains rocketing towards the sky.
It’s the perfect place to hide away. To disappear from reality, say goodbye to society, leave your phone on airplane mode since there’s no reception anyway... and discover everything hidden within this world within a world. Maybe you’ll sit and stare at the rolling hills. Or walk as many of the trails as you possibly can. Or perhaps you’ll disappear into the mist that rolls off Plodda Falls. Whatever’s drawn you to Glen Affric, we applaud your good taste.
Breathe deep. That cold air. And look up. That night sky. So many stars in the sky, you wonder if this is some kind of mistake. How can you be blessed to live in a world that gives us such moments and such views?
You’re surrounded by others who have come to enjoy the Dark Skies Festival here in Cumbria. Why? Well, the Lake District in Cumbria is known as one of the most beautiful places in the UK. You might even argue... its beauty goes even beyond that.
And in Autumn, a warmth brushes over the landscape, playing with everything you see before you, like a child throwing a bucket of brightly coloured paint over a plain white wall.
The Lake District is ideal for those who adore the outdoors. Who see the world as their playground. Who want to get out and into the thick of it. To walk, cycle, climb, or even take a dip in a lake. And you could do this all with a hint of winter in the air and the burning hearth of Autumn’s colours as your backdrop.
For so long it was known as Snowdonia National Park, only now we know it by its more traditional Welsh name: Eryri. But, trust us, nothing else has changed. It’s just as beautiful as ever. Just as wild and thrilling. The perfect place to escape the chime of mobile phones, the pressure of schedules and expectations, the flurry of modernity that presses in around us in this contemporary world.
Majestic. Lush. Crystal-clear. All those overused cliches you cringe to read... well they apply here. So why turn our noses up at them? It’s as if those words were invented here. As if the beauty of Eryri inspired the creation of such descriptions.
And in Autumn, Eryri’s dramatic warcry settles into something more akin to a folktale being told around a campfire. Or a tune sung beside a hearth in a warm pub. The landscape turns rustic and the whole world seems to disappear into Autumn’s quiet embrace.
And those are just the ones off the top of our heads. Imagine if we dug deeper. Imagine if you did too. Every nook and cranny of the UK changes into something special during Autumn. It’s why we can’t get enough of it... and we’re sure you won’t be able to get enough either.