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Beautiful places to visit in the UK in autumnBeautiful places to visit in the UK in autumn

As F. Scott. Fitzgerald once wrote: "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall." As we bid farewell to the verdant greens of summer, autumn in the UK brings with it landscapes of burning gold and weather as fresh as an early harvest crab apple. Cooler climes call for cashmere jumpers, roaring fires, mugs of mulled cider, and root veg stews simmering on the stove. Even with the first splash of rain, there's play to be done; with wellies and waterproofs, afternoons become prime for puddle splashing and Pooh sticks. 

From Snowdonia to Skye, the nation is ablaze with autumnal colours. The changing season marks the start of harvest season; farmers' markets groan with the weight of pears, plums and hedgerow berries, and hand-painted village signs lead to pick-your-own pumpkin fields. Now's the time for observing woodland wildlife. Red squirrels dance between toadstools, migratory birds soar overhead and, with luck, there's chances to spot regal stags in rutting season. Read on for the best – and most beautiful – places to visit in the UK this autumn.


The Lake District

A picture of the Lake District in the autumn, looking through a valley in the sun

The Lake District is enchanting in autumn; the Cumbrian fells become a tapestry of amber bracken and the lake shores are ablaze with reflections of golden foliage overhead, occasionally interrupted by falling leaves that create dimples on the mirror-like surface. 

The summer crowds have subsided as term time resumes, yet the temperatures remain mild, making autumn an ideal time to enjoy the Lake District’s ancient trails and mountain passes in peace. With that said, your path might be crossed by roe deer, red squirrels, and Herdwick sheep, as they trundle down from the higher fells to graze in the lower valleys. 

Wild swimmers can plunge into fairy pools and tarns still holding onto August’s warmth, before winter’s chill takes hold. Warm through with a slice of apple pie in Windermere, or cosy up for a Cumbrian roast with all the trimmings by a crackling fire, as the sky shifts from flaming coral to inky blue outside. Maybe the shorter days aren’t so bad, after all.


The Isle of Skye

The green and craggy landscape of the Isle of Skye in autumn

The Isle of Skye offers shutterbugs countless scenes to capture come autumn (think dramatic skies as mist shrouds the Old Man of Storr, fiery heather clinging to the Cuillin Mountains, and bewitching scenes as spring water cascades into fairy pools). Stay nice and still, and you might just find that otters, seals, and majestic sea eagles make it into the frame. 

After you’ve got the shot, there’s time to explore the quaint villages of Portree, Dunvegan, and Uig, where local artisans sell chunky Aran sweaters and bed socks to beat the chill. Then, seek refuge by the fire with a wee dram to warm the cockles; perhaps trying some traditional Skye dishes like "Cullen Skink," a creamy fish soup, or "Clootie Dumpling," a sweet and spicy steamed pudding, for a taste of the island's culinary heritage.

Whilst the Loch Ness Monster is the most famous creature in Scottish lore, Skye has its own serpentine mystery. Loch Fada and Loch Leathan are said to be home to the Storr Lochs Monster, which usher curious island visitors to the shores in hopes of a sighting.



An old, empty street in Oxford with street lamps and stone walls

Autumn signals the beginning of a new academic year in Oxford, and the city’s cobbled streets are abuzz with the convivial chatter of students. Oxford's iconic spires are cast anew in the late autumn light; warm rays dance on the Palladian-style Rad Cam (the "heart of Oxford") and Bodleian Library, while college gates are shrouded by blankets of rustling leaves. 

Inspired by all that academia? Take your pick from the Ashmolean Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum, and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, where the vast array of art and artefacts from across the ages will keep you occupied if sunshine turns to autumn showers. 

Then again, you could fill your afternoons with leisurely saunters through Port Meadow, or perhaps a punt down the Cherwell, passing auburn willow and amber chestnut trees as you go. Then hours bobbing between eateries: think Oxford sausages, Frank Cooper's Marmalade, mulled Bishop, and Banbury cakes.



A timber cottage surrounded by a garden at the beginning of autumn in Stratford upon Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon – the birthplace of William Shakespeare – comes alive in autumn. The River Avon is framed by native trees, sending loose leaves flying into the rowing boats below. The season is a lively time for bard-loving culture buffs, as the Royal Shakespeare Company unveils its calendar of plays and performances, with matinee and evening shows running throughout the season.

The town is also the home of the magical world of Wizard's Thatch, where you can visit The Creaky Cauldron and Magic Alley for a unique blend of wizardry, storytelling, and wizard-themed merchandise. Then, there's all the kinetic art and automata of the Mechanical Art and Design Museum, a series of supernatural night walks, and an ale trail to seal the deal.

Explore the timber-framed Tudor buildings that line the streets, including Harvard House and the Guild Chapel, or visit the Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried. Duck into the Chaucer Head Bookshop to pick up a keepsake copy of Romeo and Juliet before returning to your romantic home-from-home for an afternoon by the fire, with only freshly-brewed coffee and the Capulets for company.



An image of a cobbled street in Bath, UK, in the sunshine

If there’s an antidote to autumnal weather, it’s Thermae Bath Spa. Immerse yourself in the steaming mineral-rich waters of the rooftop pool whilst soaking in the sights of the city below. The Roman steam room and hot stone treatments offer a heady dose of R&R on a rainy October day. Afterwards, take a stroll along the Kennet and Avon Canal, or visit Bath Abbey and the Royal Crescent to see the city's ancient architecture aglow. 

Autumn is perhaps the best – and busiest – time in Bath’s culture calendar. September welcomes the return of The Bath Children's Literature Festival, the largest of its kind in Europe, attracting renowned children's authors and storytellers for all ages. In October, Bath Film Festival (known as FilmBath) offers a diverse programme of thought-provoking international films and screenings, whilst November brings a showcase of classical music performances with Bath Mozartfest.

Try a Bath Bun or a Sally Lunn bun at Sally Lunn's Historic Eating House, a place steeped in history and known for its famous fare. Or join in on a Bizarre Bath comedy walk for an unconventional guided tour of the city if a day spent at the Jane Austen Centre proved to be a little too refined.


New Forest

An image of a woodland in autumn with fallen leaves on the floor

When the great outdoors comes calling, autumn in the New Forest is about as good as it gets. Take the scenic cycle route through Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, winding along riverside trails as a canopy of orange foliage casting sun-dappled shadows ahead. Or opt for the Solent Way, a stunning coastal path that takes you along the coast and through the New Forest. Rent a bike, or bring your own for a long day in the saddle.

Weekend inhabitants of the forest are spoiled for choice when it comes to nature reserves; Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, Roydon Woods, and Exbury Gardens are best placed to see the seasons changing. Known for its hundreds of free-roaming ponies, which have become an iconic part of the landscape, autumn is the ideal time of year to go hoof-spotting.

From alpaca trekking to kayaking, there's opportunities to explore the New Forest from a different perspective by foot or on waterways. And no trip to the New Forest is complete without stopping at Sway Tower, also known as Peterson's Folly, an eccentric structure built by Andrew Peterson in the 19th century that offers panoramic views of the forest.


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