Walking

Best Woodlands in the UK to see Autumn Colours

As summer draws to an end there starts to be a noticeable change in the landscapes. Vivid greens slowly and surely change to wonderful shades of brown, orange, and yellow. The woodlands of the UK transform and the effect is breathtaking. This is why Autumn is one of the most captivating seasons. We get to see a unique landscape after the glory of summer, and before the barren desolation of winter.

There is no better place to see this transformation than woodlands and forests. Here you can see the amazing colours in all their glory and we are lucky enough to have some truly magnificent, protected woodlands in the UK. If you want to get out and explore this Autumn, we have selected 10 of the best woodlands in the UK to see the amazing Autumn transformation.

1. Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire

Possibly one of the most famous forests in England is Sherwood Forest. This is a Royal Forest and has long been associated with the legend of Robin Hood. Nestled in the heart of Nottinghamshire, aside from its historical importance, Sherwood Forest is also a magnificent place to explore.

The protected nature reserve spans over 1000 acres and in ages past, this mighty woodland spanned into other counties. You can visit the forest from several areas, and there is a visitors’ centre too. One of the main attractions here is the Major Oak – an immense Oak tree that is said to be the original hideout of Robbin Hood, which is also over 1000 years old.

You can also visit Sherwood Pines which is a park that is packed full of amazing walking routes through the forest. During the Autumn, the paths here are littered with a beautiful golden carpet of needles and debris from the immense pine trees.

A golden carpet slowly forms at Sherwood Pines

2. Epping Forest, Essex

When you think of Greater London, you would not naturally associate it with woodlands. However, on the outskirts between Epping and Forest Gate, you can find the magnificent Epping Forest. This is the remnants of another ancient forest and has a total area of 5900 acres.

This is a highly popular area for cycling, walking, and horse riding. You can find a plethora of well-maintained trails and paths through the different sections of the forest. Also, it has over 100 lakes and ponds which provide amazing reflections for photography during the Autumn.

For those who live in this part of the UK, Epping Forest is also highly accessible. There are many public car parks at points throughout the forest, and it has a series of roads that run through it such as the Epping New Road (A104).

Fiery colours in Epping Forest during Autumn

3. Wyming Brook Nature Reserve, Peak District

Wyming Brook Nature Reserve is not a dedicated forest as such, but the reservoirs are surrounded by accessible woodlands. Also, due to the nature of the reserve, it is a fascinating place to visit during the Autumn – particularly the trail that leads along the course of Wyming Brook.

This nature reserve is located in the eastern part of the Peak District – not far from Sheffield. It is relatively accessible and there are several car parks near the reservoirs, or at the top of the Brook. This is also a great starting point to explore the Peak District, as it is in close proximity to some of the top sites in the Peak District like Stanage Edge and Chatsworth House.

During the Autumn, we recommend heading to the trails that lead through the woodland and follow the course of the river. On either side, the river is surrounded by ancient trees and rocks. It creates an enclosed feeling, but you get beams of light breaking through. During this season, the trees will change colour, and the whole river course will turn into a beautiful spectacle of orange, yellow, and brown.

Fallen trees at Wyming Brook Nature Reserve

4. Kielder Forest, Northumberland

Next, we move up to the north of England in Northumberland. Here we have the plantation that is Kielder Forest. This is a large plantation that is close to Kielder Village and Kielder Reservoir. It is actually the largest man-made forest in England and covers a total area of 250 square miles.

This amazing manmade woodland is managed by the UK Forestry Commission and as a result, has some fantastic trails and great accessibility. In terms of biodiversity, Kielder Forest is predominantly formed from conifers and Sitka spruce. However, there is also large areas of Scots pine, larch, oak, and beech trees.

This region is relatively peaceful and you can explore the 27-mile multi-access walking trail that encompasses the entire reservoir. During autumn, the amazing variety of trees provide a beautiful array of colours too.

A misty scene over Kielder Forest

5. Loch Ard Forest, Stirlingshire

Moving into Scotland, we have the sublime Loch Ard. Loch Ard is part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and it lies to the east of Loch Lomond. It is relatively secluded but it is a great place for days out exploring nature.

The loch itself is breathtaking, however, there is also a huge series of hiking and cycling trails that span the surrounding countryside. These include Loch Ard Forest. This is part of Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and in total, you can find over 15 miles of trails.

As Autumn approaches, you can see some fantastic tree species including 17 different species of conifer alone! If you are lucky, you can also see some rare wildlife such as red deer, otters, and water voles. If you want to get away from the crowds at Loch Lomond, Loch Ard is a great alternative and one of the best woodlands in the UK for Autumn.

Trees starting to change colour at Loch Ard Forest

6. Hackfall, North Yorkshire

Hackfall Woods in North Yorkshire was originally a landscaped wood that was cultivated during the 18th century. It was a large undertaking that included creating streams, pools, and planting thousands of trees. Today, it is a brilliant place to visit and you can see some of the ruins of the follies that were originally built here.

Hackfall is located to the northwest of Ripon and to the east of the Nidderdale AONB. It has a small, dedicated car park and there are some brilliant walks that twist through the forest. In Autumn, the place transforms and it is particularly interesting to see the ruins of the follies amongst the amazing golden colours of the season.

A manmade stream running through Hackfall Forest

7. Coed y Brenin, Snowdonia

Snowdonia is generally known for its epic mountains such as Mount Snowdon itself. However, this National Park also has some gorgeous forests and one of the largest, is the Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park. This forest covers an estimated area of 9,000 acres and lies in the southern part of Snowdonia.

Throughout this area, there are 500-million-year-old copper deposits and it was an important mining area. However, today it is a managed forest that is protected.

You can find miles of high-quality walking and cycling trails here and there is also a relatively new visitors centre where you can hire bikes for the family.

Autumn colours peeking through in Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park

8. Glen Finglas, Stirling

Back to Scotland and again to the area surrounding Loch Lomond, we have Glen Finglas. This lies to the north of Loch Ard Forest and is another superb place to visit in the central region of Scotland. It is to the east of Loch Katrine and there is also the Glen Finglas Reservoir.

Originally, in the 1400s, this was a royal hunting forest and there would have been a hunting hall here. Today, it is a popular location for walking and there is the immense Great Trossachs Path which runs through much of the forest.

The Woodland Trust has also gone to great lengths to make this area accessible and the paths are indeed suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.

9. Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

The Forest of Dean is well-known as one of the locations the heroes travelled to in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. However, aside from this claim to fame, it is also a beautiful, protected woodland and has historical significance too.

You can find the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, to the west of Gloucester, and close to the border of Wales. It is relatively small compared to some of the other woodlands on this list. In total, the forest covers an area of approximately 42 square miles.

Nonetheless, it is a great place to explore and looks absolutely stunning during Autumn. You can find many walking trails through the forest and there are some magnificent species of trees including larches, beech, sweet chestnuts, and oaks. This could also be a great place to explore during the Autumn if you enjoy cycling

Beautiful colours in the Forest of Dean

10. Rydal Water, Lake District

Rydal Water is nestled in the heart of the Lake District. It is a fantastic place to visit regardless of the season. It is located to the northwest of Ambleside and there is also the neighbouring Grasmere water which is just as beautiful and idyllic.

Rydal Water has some excellent walking routes that circumnavigate the lake. You can also travel into the surrounding woodland. It is easily accessible and there are two public car parks – Rydal Water Car Park (LA22 9SE), and White Moss Car Park (the same postcode).

During the Autumn, the reflections from the water are sublime. When standing from the northern banks, you can see across to the southern side and the woodlands provide an epic golden backdrop. This turns into a photographer’s dream and it is definitely one of the best woodlands in the UK for Autumn.

A misty morning scene at Rydal Water

Witness the Beauty of Autumn in These Magnificent Woodlands This Year

Why not get out this Autumn and experience the beauty of nature as it transforms to accommodate for the forthcoming winter months? The colours and change during this season is sublime. We are lucky enough to have some fantastic woodlands to witness it!

The best woodlands in the UK are waiting to be explored. They are ideal whether you enjoy a peaceful walk, an arduous trek, or even an exhilarating cycle.

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