Read on to discover some of the best places to see autumn colours in England and when to visit. These are the places we’ve loved visiting most during the autumn months. Some of our suggestions might even surprise you!
Autumn in England
Ahh autumn, you beautiful season you. When many others are basking in the heat of the summer sunshine, I’m wishing for autumn (my favourite season) to arrive.
Autumn – or fall if you’re from the States – is a time for cosy evenings, fluffy socks and watching Gilmore Girls on repeat. But best of all, it’s when nature puts on a show for us.
Trees dazzle us with their crimson, burnt umber and golden foliage. Or red, orange and yellow leaves if you wish me to be slightly less poetic.
And where’s the best place to be to see this glorious autumn spectacle in England? Well, many, many places to be honest, but coming up are some of my favourites.
So, let’s don our walking boots and go for a wander through autumn woods, incredible national parks, fall-focused cities, epic castles and more…
When To See The Best Autumn Colours in England
But first, when is the best time to see autumn colours in England? Meteorologically speaking, autumn in England runs through September, October and November.
However, if you follow the astrological calendar, then autumn starts whenever the autumn equinox is (the date changes with each year). This year, the equinox falls on September 23rd.
While you’ll probably start seeing autumn colours in late September, we’d recommend timing your visit between mid-October and late November for the most spectacular autumn colours in England.
We used to advise visiting any time from October through to mid-November for vivid autumn colours.
But due to the UK having hotter summers and milder autumns compared with previous years, we’ve found the best autumn colours often come later in the year now.
Where To Go Autumn Leaf Spotting in England
To see the best autumn colours in England, you’ll probably choose to wander through forests, woodlands, arboretums and National Parks where maple trees and bracken dazzle us with their kaleidoscope of autumn foliage.
But a proper English autumn is more than just trees changing colour.
Head to various castles, mansions and manor houses dotted around England and you might be lucky enough to discover autumn flowers in bloom and cascading red ivy leaves decorating the sides of old buildings.
And finally, don’t forget that autumn also brings Halloween, which many cities and other destinations throughout England celebrate in style.
Does all of this sound good? Listed below are some of my most favourite autumn destinations in England…
8 of the Best Autumn Destinations in England
Of all the autumn destinations on this list, Stourhead might just be my favourite. This sprawling estate consists of a world-famous landscape garden and manor house, owned and looked after by the National Trust.
Most people (including us!) spend the majority of their time here exploring the gardens because there’s a vast lake, stone bridges and classical temples to marvel at.
There’s even a “magical” grotto, which has glorious views across the lake. These lakeside views are especially glorious in the autumn months when the lake reflects the stunning autumn foliage from the surrounding trees.
Even in late November (when we visited), you should still see some wonderful colours!
Psst, did you know? Some scenes in the 2005 Pride & Prejudice movie were filmed at Stourhead.
How to visit Stourhead in autumn
If you’re a National Trust member, then you can visit Stourhead for free as part of your membership. If you’re not yet a member, then you’ll need to pay an entry fee plus an all-day parking charge.
Given Stourhead’s popularity, this is also one of the National Trust’s more expensive sites, so it may even be worth considering becoming a member just to visit this one place – especially if you’re visiting as a couple or family.
READ NEXT: 35 Best National Trust Places You’ll Love!
2. Westonbirt Arboretum
Of all the places mentioned on this list, Westonbirt Arboretum in Tetbury, Gloucestershire is probably one of the most well-known places.
Westonbirt is home to more than 2,500 different species of trees – including various maples and acers, which look spectacular in the autumn months.
There’s even a treetop walkway at Westonbirt, so you can get a bird’s-eye view of the different colours and some fabulous photos.
It’s even dog-friendly here! Dogs are allowed in most areas, just not in the old arboretum or during events.
Speaking of events, Westonbirt’s “Enchanted Christmas” event is spectacular in its own right – with various light shows and displays dotted around the arboretum.
It’s super festive, so it’s well worth visiting the arboretum a second time once autumn is over.
How to visit Westonbirt Arboretum in autumn
Given Westonbirt’s popularity through the autumn months and during their Christmas events, booking ahead is essential.
You can do so online within 7 days of your visit. The entry fee includes onsite parking.
Or you can become a member and visit for free if you plan on going to the arboretum multiple times throughout the year.
3. Peak District National Park
Last year, we had the pleasure of visiting the Peak District in late October and we were certainly in awe of the autumn colours you can enjoy here – in different ways.
Hike to the top of one of the peaks that give this National Park its name and you’ll likely see the landscape laden with red and brown bracken.
Not to mention, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the trees and their various autumn colours.
We walked to the top of Bamford Edge to admire the stunning views, which you can see in the photo above. Luckily, we had lovely weather for it!
The Peak District is also home to various woodland walks, which as you know, are the perfect place to admire autumn foliage.
We loved our walk at Beresford Dale, which features a meandering river, fields and clifftop views.
How to visit the Peak District in autumn
At 555 square miles, the Peak District is a big place. I’m aware that’s a bit of an understatement.
But what this means is that you can tackle a trip to the Peak District however you choose. If you live close by, then you’ll likely already be enjoying day trips there.
If, however, you’ve never visited and want to make a weekend of it, then I hope you find our tried and tested Peak District itinerary helpful.
4. Chatsworth House
Speaking of the Peak District, we thought the next two places warranted their very own spots on this list of beautiful autumn destinations in England.
Up first is Chatsworth House, which is a privately owned stately home near Bakewell. And as you might expect, it’s rather grand and opulent.
Although you can buy tickets to enter the house and have a look around there, if you’re visiting in autumn, then your focus should definitely be on the 1,822-acre park, which surrounds the house.
From themed gardens and mazes to grottoes, arboretums and even a treehouse, there’s plenty to see and do here to keep you busy all day.
Not to mention all this comes with a glorious display of autumn colours at this time of year!
How to visit Chatsworth House in autumn
Chatsworth is privately owned, so you’ll need to pay an entry fee to explore the house and gardens.
You can choose which ticket works best for you. As we’re outdoorsy people, we spent all of our time exploring the estate rather than the house. But you can buy a combo ticket for the house and gardens if you prefer.
If you book in advance online, you’ll receive free onsite parking and you’ll especially need to book online during peak times as this is a very popular place to visit.
Please note the house and gardens are not open year-round, so check availability before you go. There’s also a big Christmas event here every year, which naturally affects their standard opening times.
5. Lyme Park
Also found in the Peak District and a wonderful place to explore in the autumn months is Lyme Park, which is looked after by the National Trust.
Lyme Park is roughly an hour’s drive away from Chatsworth, so you may even wish to visit both in one day if you’re strapped for time.
Once again, you can explore both the house, gardens and wider estate here. But again, let’s make the 1400-acre estate our focus during the autumn months.
There are various woodland walks you can enjoy within the estate, which naturally dazzle us with beautiful colours in autumn.
The heathlands are also a majestic golden colour at this time of year. You might even spot a stag peeking out at you! If that doesn’t scream autumn vibes, I don’t know what does.
So while you’ll enjoy ticking off a fabulous autumn destination here, you’ll also be visiting a famous filming location!
How to visit Lyme Park in autumn
Just like Stourhead, Lyme Park is owned by the National Trust. So, you can visit Lyme Park for free as a National Trust member.
Otherwise, you’ll need to pay for an entry ticket, which includes parking and either access to the house, park and gardens or just the park and gardens (depending on which ticket you choose).
6. New Forest National Park
If woodlands are the epitome of autumn foliage, then I can think of no better place to explore than the New Forest in Hampshire, which is sure to dazzle you with glorious autumn colours.
The New Forest is one of the UK’s National Parks and covers 219 square miles.
It’s famous for being the hunting grounds of William the Conqueror, while his son, King William II was fatally wounded by an arrow here in 1100 AD. Safe to say, the New Forest is as historic as it is beautiful at this time of year.
During your visit, keep your eyes peeled for the wild New Forest ponies that quietly graze here. It’s not unheard of to see a pony randomly wandering down a village high street!
You can also find giant redwoods and Douglas firs in the New Forest, which are some of the largest and oldest trees you’ll find in the UK.
How to visit the New Forest in autumn
Just like the Peak District, there are plenty of ways to experience the best of the New Forest in autumn.
We’d highly recommend following the Tall Trees Trail during your visit, so you can see the aforementioned giant redwoods and Douglas firs.
If you’re visiting in October, then you might also enjoy a visit to Burley Village, which is home to an infamous witch shop, spooky legends and fabulous Halloween festivities.
- Tall Trees Trail, New Forest: How To See Giant Sequoia Trees in the UK
- Burley Witch Shop: Witchcraft & Smuggling in Burley Village
7. Sudeley Castle
Speaking of Halloween festivities, another top autumn destination in England (at least, in our opinion) is Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.
This centuries-old castle was once home to Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII. She’s actually laid to rest in the castle’s church.
Given the castle’s long and interesting history, I’m sure it won’t be a surprise to hear that there are lots of tales to be told about this place – especially in the run-up to Halloween.
When we visited, we enjoyed a walking tour, which showed us all of the places where ghost sightings and gruesome murders have taken place.
There were also magic shows and spooky storytelling events to enjoy. But it was also the autumn foliage that captivated us.
From golden leaves on the trees to crunchy leaves underfoot; even the castle itself dazzled us with flaming red ivy growing up its walls.
Did you know? Sudeley Castle is also a filming location. You might recognise the grounds in the TV period drama, “The White Princess”.
How to visit Sudeley Castle in autumn
Sudeley Castle is privately owned, so you’ll need to pay an entry fee to visit. You’ll also need to book your ticket in advance online as they have very limited tickets available to purchase at the door.
If you’re combining your autumn trip with their “Halloweek” event like we did, then you’ll definitely want to buy your tickets in advance.
Please note that this castle is closed for the winter, so you’ll need to time your visit between late March and early November. This means you can still enjoy late October or early November autumn colours.
READ NEXT: Haunted Sudeley Castle at Halloween [Review]
8. Bowood House & Gardens
Bowood House & Gardens in Wiltshire is a 100-acre privately owned estate. It belongs to the current Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne.
Here, you’ll find a stunning Grade I listed Georgian property, which you’re welcome to explore inside. But as you might expect, it’s the autumn colours we’ve come to see!
Wander around the estate and you’ll enjoy pretty lakeside views, gushing waterfalls, temples, grottoes and more.
There’s even a “Pinetum”, which as you might imagine, features pretty autumnal colours in different shades at this time of year.
Plus, the house itself is similar to the aforementioned Sudeley Castle where ivy in deep red and plum colours adorns the walls.
How to visit Bowood House & Gardens in autumn
As Bowood House is privately owned, you need to pay an entry fee to visit. You can buy tickets in advance online to guarantee entry.
But please note that the Bowood estate is closed to the public through winter.
You can visit daily between April and November, so you’ll still be able to see some pretty autumn colours throughout October and early November.
Nature Notes: Trees & Plants To Look Out For During Autumn in England
If you’re interested in plants and nature – like us! – then here’s what you should look out for during an autumn in England.
Bracken is a type of British fern, which you’ll usually find in woodlands and across heathlands.
In the autumn and winter months, you’ll see bracken turn delicious shades of light brown and burnt umber.
Virginia Creeper / Boston Ivy
Virginia Creeper also known as Boston Ivy, is native to eastern Asia in places like Korea and Japan. Despite this, it grows well within the UK, so you’ll likely see it often during your travels.
Usually, you’ll find it creeping up the sides of buildings and over walls. In autumn, this type of ivy turns a fiery shade of red, which looks spectacular against ancient brickwork or windows.
Japanese Maples & Acer Trees
Trees within the acer and Japanese maple family are also native to the east. Once again, you’ll see them frequently within the UK, but not necessarily in the wild.
If you visit landscaped gardens, stately homes and arboretums in the autumn months, then you’ll likely find these types of trees dazzling everyone with deep reds, bright oranges and golden yellows.
Autumn Fruits & Berries
And finally, this time of year is perfect for foraging wild fruits such as blackberries, crab apples and sloes.
Please only pick fruits you’re sure are safe for humans – and wash them thoroughly first!
Still, making a crumble from freshly picked blackberries in September has to be up there as one of the best autumn activities, am I right?
Are you ready for autumn in England?
Over to you now – where are you heading for autumn this year? We have many more places we want to explore this year, so I suspect we’ll have to update this blog post ready for next autumn. Stay tuned!
If you’re after even more suggestions of awesome things to do and see in England and the UK, then you’ll love our mammoth UK bucket list. Check it out now >>
Also, you might enjoy our UK autumn bucket list, which is full of even more fall ideas! Take a look at it here >>