Best Hiking Trails this Autumn
When summer rolls around everyone looks to enjoy the outdoors, we break out our summer wardrobe and dust off our hiking boots to make the most of the peak season. However, it’s a bit of a myth that hiking trips are best done over the hotter months. In fact, shoulder seasons are usually the better time to tackle a tough trail thanks to slightly lower temperatures.
Get Equipped for Life! Don’t resign yourself to porridge and days in front of the TV as the leaves turn, keep those hiking boots out instead, pack a bag, pick up one of our protein bars – we’re going to show you our favourite autumn hiking trails.
Brownsea Island, Dorset
Just off the coast of Dorset’s Poole, a 20-minute ferry ride away, lies the lovely island of Brownsea. It’s at its very best in the autumn, as the forest leaves turn into a riot of reds and yellows, and the island’s cutest local residents—red squirrels—are out on the prowl for nuts and seeds.
There are three main walks on the island, the woodland walk (1 hour) is best for the lovely views, spotting squirrels and for enjoying a picnic, the Scouting and Maryland walk (35 mins) for seeing the remains of the once thriving village, and the Heathland walk (40 mins) is best for spying the Japanese Sika deer that also call this island home. Just remember to pack plenty of snacks for the day.
Duration: Around 2-3 hours
Decorated with lime, oak and beech trees, there are few autumn walks as spectacular as the one you’ll find at Ashridge. There are fallow deer herds that roam the area, and there are plenty of hills you can scale in order to admire the panoramic views of the woodland and parkland on the estate.
The foliage at this time of year is reliably a clamour of golds, oranges and yellows, and the lofty viewpoints will have you reaching for your camera every five minutes. Just remember to keep your delicious snacks or any lunch items zipped up in your bag, so you don’t attract the local (and rather peckish) wildlife. There are several different walking routes at Ashridge, that suit all abilities which you can find out more about here, but we’ve listed the most challenging.
Duration: 7 hours
Nant Gwynant, Gwynedd
Looking for something a little more energetic? This walk might be the happy medium you need, offering a moderate challenge but with some very impressive viewpoints. Enjoy our protein bars and hit the lower slopes of Snowdon by checking out the autumn trail of Nant Gwynant valley.
This route takes about two to three hours all up, and winds through oak woodland, up to the legendary Watkin Path and the ruins of Cwm Llan House, and down through more woodland. Just keep an eye out for the cheeky wild goats that call this valley home.
Duration: 2-3 hours
Nostell, West Yorkshire
Nostell has a fascinating history, having once been home to a menagerie of exotic animals in the 1700s. Today, you won’t find any monkeys or lions, but you will find the menagerie house is still there and the garden walk nearby is a lovely way to spend an autumnal afternoon.
The acer trees planted in the garden fire a deep red in the fall months, framed by soft yellowing leaves, so the views are impressive. You can explore the whole grounds, but we’ve listed a family friendly and fully accessible route (the terrain is all surfaced paths) so everyone can enjoy this lovely fall stroll.
Duration: 1 hour
Rob Roy Way
If you’re about dramatic scenery and want a serious challenge, then the best autumn trail is Rob Roy Way. This highland trek starts right near Loch Lomond and takes you past three stunning lochs: Venachar, Lubnaig and Earn, through to Killin, and then onto Loch Tay and Pitlochry.
On the way you’ll tread through many of the places where Rob Roy MacGregor lived and interacted, and anyone who has an affinity for Scottish culture will adore this trail. The trek isn’t for the faint of heart, it takes around a week, and there are plenty of ascents to tackle, so make sure you’re well stocked throughout the days with lots of snacks and plenty of water.
Duration: 6-7 days
Derwent Valley, Peak District
Set in the Peak District National Park is the Derwent Valley Heritage Walk. This trail is great for blending beautiful foliage with a little culture, as along this route you’ll see the Derbyshire Dales, the Derwent Valley Mills, and Chatsworth House. The entire route is 55mi/88km and takes around 6 days, but you can bite off smaller sections, and make a day trip of it instead.
For just a day trip, we recommend going from Baslow to Rowsley (5mi/8km) where you can follow the river and explore the Chatsworth House grounds. Tour the heritage house and spend time in the glorious grounds where you’ll spy red deer roaming between the flame coloured trees. You may even recognise the house, as it doubled as Darcy’s Pemberley in both the 1995 TV series and 2005 film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.
Length: 5mi/8km or 55mi/88km
Duration: 2-3 hours or 6 days
Nature Valley wants to make it as easy as possible for you to Get Equipped for Life! this year, so not only are we perfecting our on-the-go snacks, but we’re investigating the best national parks, cycle paths, and trails for you to discover.