Fantastic autumn days out to delight around the UK

Enjoy the great British outdoors and beautiful autumn colours with our list of the best National Trust venues to visit in October and November.
autumn days out

The change in the seasons is a time of wonder when the gardens and parks cared for by the National Trust turn into a kaleidoscope of colour and wildlife takes centre stage. 

Whether it’s the technicolour canopy of colour, the rustle of leaves underfoot or the sight of toadstools among the fallen leaves, we’ve pulled together a list of fantastic autumn days out that will be fun for all ages.  

Sniff out fragrant trees, listen for the clattering of antlers, the hooting of owls, be spellbound by swooping murmurations, or simply find a quiet spot to enjoy the great outdoors in autumn’s golden hour. 

From apple days and food festivals to wildlife walks and half term adventures these National Trust places celebrate the very best of the season.

And until 30 November 2022 up to two adults and four children can enjoy the National Trust for free, with a single use admission pass available from [1]

Cragside, Northumberland

Have some half term fun and visit the adventure play area, labyrinth, trim trail and family-friendly flat walk around two of Cragside’s historic lakes

As well as being a technologically advanced Victorian mansion, Cragside’s gardens and grounds are just as spectacular.

With Lord and Lady Armstrong experimenting with plants on a massive scale. Rocky crags, tumbling water, lakes and towering North American conifers create ever changing scenery. Amongst an estimated 7 million trees and shrubs, which are mostly varieties of pine, is a collection of deciduous trees.

As you stroll down the stone steps of the Rock Garden and cross the Iron Bridge you see the changing colours of trees ahead of you. Leaves of red and golden yellows line the path that leads to the Formal Garden. Listen out for blackbirds turning over the crisp leaves on the ground, on a hunt for insects and see if you can spot red squirrels jumping between the branches.

Dogs (on leads at all times) welcome in all outdoor areas.

Wheelchairs are available to borrow from the shop. Please book in advance via 01669 620333).

Gibside near Newcastle - autumn days out
Autumnal views at Gibside near Newcastle.

Gibside, Tyne and Wear

Halloween half term trail, 22–30 October, creep through the forest on a chilling, outdoor trail. Solve all the puzzles at each trail point and uncover the Halloween mystery.

Gibside is one of a few surviving Georgian Landscape Gardens and was fashioned with two things in mind: spectacular views and ‘wow’ moments. Here, you can escape the hustle and bustle of modern life within 600 acres of gardens, woodland and countryside. To enjoy autumn colours, take a minute to sit at the top of Snipes Dene and look out across Gibside.

The autumn colours glow in the late afternoon. If you’re quiet, you may see Roe deep crossing the steep sided dene but look closely because they may still have their red-orange summer coats before they’ve turned grey-brown and thick for winter. The Valley Views Trail is a good one for people wanting a longer walk and those wanting to spot wildlife. Not many people are aware of this trail but it has some spectacular views. Unfortunately it’s not accessible, there’s lots of undulating ground and stiles across the farmer’s fields.

The Explorer Trail is Gibside’s shortest trail, great for families of all ages. The trail takes you past out Nature Playscape, Low Ropes Course, Den Building Area and Strawberry Castle play area.

What’s on

  • Halloween half term trail, 22–30 October, creep through the forest on a chilling, outdoor trail. Solve all the puzzles at each trail point and uncover the Halloween mystery.

Changing places facilities

Trampers available for hire.

Dogs welcome on leads.

Normal admission charges apply, no additional event charges

Nostell, West Yorkshire   

This Historic Georgian house is home to some of Robert Adam’s finest interiors and has one of the best collections of Chippendale furniture (commissioned for the house) in the country. 300 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland offer views of the historic mansion, rolling hills and woodland. In the kitchen garden the gardening team will be harvesting more than 100 different herbs, vegetables and fruits including heritage pears and apples.

Visit the kitchen garden and spot the fruits and veg of the season. For autumn colour take the Menagerie Garden Walk and look out for the colourful trees reflected in the lakes. In the parkland take in colourful landscape views from Obelisk Lodge and keep your eyes peeled for fungi growing in the woodlands.

What’s on

  • Bats and Bugs Half-term Trail from 22 October, go hunting for bats and bugs around Nostell on a family trail this October half-term

Changing places facilities

Mobility scooter rental available. Please book 48hrs before your visit by calling 01924 866744 or email [email protected]

Buggy service available from the main carpark to the courtyard.

Blue badge parking is available nearer the courtyard facilities.

Normal admission charges apply, no additional event charges                                                                               

Dunham Massey - autumn days out
Deer at Dunham Massey in Cheshire.

Dunham Massey, Cheshire

Dunham Massey’s unique garden is a treat for all the senses at this time of year. Enjoy an autumnal walk through the garden and experience the sights, sounds, smells, textures and even tastes of the garden as the colours change to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows in autumn. Notice the smell of candyfloss as you wander the canal border with the Katsura tree’s decaying leaves emitting a lovely burnt sugar smell.

Keep an eye out for the Japanese Maples as they change colour to vibrant reds and oranges from September onwards. On cold and frosty days, visit the garden early to see the autumnal colours reflecting on the water in the moat. Experience one of nature’s most spectacular moments in the medieval deer park as the fallow deer battle for supremacy during their October rut.

Watch and listen to deep bellowing and the clash of antlers as the bucks go head to head for the pick of the does. Fighting can be merciless when two bucks refuse to back down, so make sure to watch from a safe distance and keep your dog on a short lead.

What’s on

  • Mog’s autumnal adventures, 24 September–16 November, Judith Kerr’s beloved ‘Mog the Forgetful Cat’ is back for an educational journey of autumnal wonder at Dunham Massey.

Well behaved dogs are welcome in the parkland (9.30am–5pm) and gardens (12 noon – 5pm), but must be kept on a short lead at all times to protect our herd of deer.

PMVs and wheelchairs are available to hire by calling 0161 941 1025.

The shuttle buggy is operational between the car park and gardens on most days.

Normal admission charges apply, no additional event charges 

Quarry Bank, Cheshire

There’s something extra special about Quarry Bank as the reds, russets and yellows of autumn begin to appear. Head to the upper gardens to take in some of the best views, before visiting the lower garden, where visitors can wander along newly improved paths and over bridges crossing the River Bollin, with borders full of autumn blooming flowers in deep auburn hues.

In 2020, the gardeners carried out a mass-tree planting to celebrate the National Trust’s 125th anniversary, so this is the perfect time to see how the trees are settling in for their second autumn. Back in the upper garden, trained fruit trees will be groaning with the weight of their produce, from Morello Cherries, red and white currants to Plums ‘Denniston’s Superb’ and ‘Victoria’, Fig ‘Brown Turkey’, Apples ‘King of Pippins’ and ‘Dumelow’s Seedling’.

What’s on

  • Apple Day in partnership with the Kindling Trust, 22–23 October

Visit during the apple day events and children can have a go at apple bobbing, taste apple pie and will leave with a free apple tree sapling to plant.

Dogs on leads are most welcome around the wider estate and on a short lead in the upper and lower garden.

Normal admission charges apply, no additional event charges

Beningbrough Hall, Yorkshire

The Italian-inspired Beningbrough Hall is surrounded by eight acres of formal gardens, including a working Walled Kitchen Garden with more than 50 varieties of apples and pears and many other fruits. In autumn ornamental vines frame the walled garden with deep crimsons whilst in the beds the harvest flourishes. Pumpkins get plumper and apples ripen ready for the harvest. As garden colour continues until the first frosts, the south border is known anecdotally as the St. Leger border.

Lady Chesterfield, the last private owner of Beningbrough loved to entertain during the September racehorse meet and made sure the area looked striking with late colour from dahlias and asters. For an autumnal stomp the wider estate dates back to medieval times, stretches over acres of parkland and is home to rare, unusual and characterful trees.

What’s on

  • Half term autumnal treasures trail, 22–31 October, search for silhouettes of leaves and seeds around the garden.

Dogs on leads welcome in the parkland and (on short non-extendable leads) in the garden, except the walled garden and wilderness play area.

A selection of wheelchairs and two mobility scooters available to borrow free of charge to help you explore the gardens. Please phone ahead of your visit if you would like to reserve one

Normal admission charges apply, no additional event charges

Sizergh near Kendal - autumn days out
Beautiful grounds can be walked around at Sizergh

Sizergh, Cumbria

Sizergh stands proudly at the gateway to the Lake District and has been home to the Strickland family for more than 800 years. There’s plenty to explore on the 1,600-acre estate, including gardens, wetland, woodland and orchards. By late October the colours begin to really change in the limestone rock garden at Sizergh and the Japanese maple trees are ablaze with colour, from yellow through to burnt oranges and reds. It’s also the time when the herbaceous border is at its best, filled with autumn-flowering perennials.

Visitors can smell the sweet toffee-apple scent of the Katsura tree growing here. In the orchard the apples, quince and Westmorland damsons are being harvested for use in the café, along with squash and other produce from the kitchen garden, with any surplus donated to Waste into Wellbeing, a local charity providing meals for the local community.

Views from Helsington Barrows and Church Fell make great photo opportunities, displaying changing tree colour as the season moves through October. You’ll notice leaves falling from oak, hazel, birch and chestnut trees.

Dogs are welcome on the wider estate

Castle Ward, County Down

Take a stroll through this 820-acre walled demesne along trails that wind their way through atmospheric woodland, parkland and gardens, with impressive views over Strangford Lough and the surrounding countryside. From the farmyard, head out to Temple Water where the Japanese maples will be in full colour. From there, head off the beaten track to the newly accessible Lime Tree Walk which has turned from green to gold.

The season of growth might be over, but one sect of the natural world is just coming into its own – mushrooms. There are an astounding variety of fungi on display at Castle Ward. A good spot for budding mycologists is along the Secret Shore Trail which is littered with lots of fallen trees turned climbing frames, perfect for mushrooms to develop. The Shore Trail also a great spot for blackberry picking.

Dogs on short leads welcome in wider estate and tea-room.

Castle Coole in Northern Ireland - autumn days out
Old world charm of Castle Coole.

Castle Coole, County Fermanagh

Castle Coole is one of Ireland’s finest Neo-classical houses, set in a beautiful, wooded landscape park. Autumn is a beautiful time of the year to visit Castle Coole as this peaceful parkland stays warm with its golden colours.

Head for the Beech Trail in autumn. Uncover this tranquil walk and enjoy the historic estate at Castle Coole in all its autumnal glory. Feast your eyes on the range of golden colours from the magnificent Beech trees along the way. Stop-off at the 18th-century Ice House before diverting onto the Castle Coole Lake Walk Trail to take another pleasant stroll around the calming waters of Lough Coole.

While exploring the estate, don’t forget to keep an eye out for varied wildlife who are lucky enough to call Castle Coole home. The dense reed beds around the margins of the lake, backed by alder and willow trees provide sanctuary for a whole array of water birds. Dogs are welcome in gardens and wider estate but must remain on a short lead

Mount Stewart, County Down  

The famous gardens at Mount Stewart are particularly spectacular during autumn when the compartmentalised outdoor rooms come alive with scent and colour.  And for autumn colour the many trails, including a one-mile wheelchair friendly route, around the lake reveal the gold, red and bronze Acer trees.

Mount Stewart’s microclimate also means the Rose Garden will be in bloom until the first frost. Further afield the wider demesne is one of the last few strongholds of the native Red Squirrel. In early autumn you might spot them on the ground at foraging for fallen seeds to store for winter. Look out for autumn signs of activity such as nibbled pine or spruce cones and hazelnuts and listen out for their distinctive calls which sounds like a chucking.

Dogs are welcome in gardens and wider estate but must remain on a short lead

Mobility scooters are available to hire but must be pre booked, please email [email protected].

Springhill, County Londonderry

Springhill was the home of ten generations of Lenox-Conyngham family. Regarded as one of the prettiest houses to visit in Northern Ireland, the house is open every weekend in October.

Springhill’s autumn colours are a beautiful sight, not to be missed. Take a walk up to the sawmill and gaze in every direction at the autumnal landscape. Springhill is also home to a wonderful array of fungal fruiting bodies in all shapes, sizes and colours with fantastically names such as the Scarlet Elf Cup, the Jelly Ear, and the Shaggy Inkcap. Perhaps the most unique and beguiling fungi is the fluted birds nest fungus, nestled in amongst the bark chip of the path, which would easily go unnoticed by the passer by.

Dogs are welcome in gardens and wider estate but must remain on a short lead.

Hughenden - autumn days out

Hughenden, Buckinghamshire

Stroll through the Disraelis’ pleasure grounds and parkland to see the changing colours of the ancient specimen trees or venture further on a waymarked walk to experience the full effect of the native beech woods as the foliage turns.

As the colours change from the bright hues of summer to the burnt oranges and soft yellows of autumn, celebrate the season’s sights, sounds and sensations in Hughenden’s gardens and the rolling countryside.

Head out to Disraeli’s Monument for the best views of the red bricked Victorian manor. When you reach the top of the hill and look back across the valley to Hughenden it is nestled on the side of a hill, surrounded in rich autumn colours of the native trees turning, predominantly reds and oranges from the historic beech woodlands.

What’s on

  • Mini beast hunt, 25 and 27 October 10.30–12pm
  • Fantastical fungi trail, explore the hidden world of the fungi kingdom on this free trail

Dogs are welcome under close control in the park and woodlands, and on the lead in the gardens.

Wheelchairs, including 2 all-terrain, are available to hire in advance. Email [email protected] to book one for the day you are visiting.

Normal admission charges apply, no additional event charges but booking is recommended for the mini beast hunt

Polesden Lacey, Surrey

A country retreat, only four miles from Dorking and junction 9 of the M25, Polesden Lacey has glorious views across the rolling Surrey Hills and acres of countryside to explore. With its amazing views over Ranmore Common and secluded walks through the Upper Sunken Garden or Preserve Copse, the pleasure ground at Polesden Lacey is a perfect place to enjoy the striking variety of colour of the autumn season.

Families can enjoy getting in touch with nature finding their favourite shades of bronze, gold and red whilst collecting leaves in the garden. The wider 1400 acre estate, including 200 acres of ancient woodland, offers even more opportunity to soak up the atmosphere. There are several walking trails including four waymarked routes as well as a new Estate Walks leaflet.

Dogs welcome on short leads in the woodland and parkland.

Courtesy accessibility bus is available most days between visitor reception and the house.

Mobility scooters and wheelchairs are now available to book. Please call our main number or email us 48 hours in advance of your visit to book.

Normal admission charges apply

Bodiam Castle - autumn days out

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex 

One of the most perfect moated medieval castles in the land. The towers, reflected in the water, look as they would have done 600 years ago. Autumn is the perfect time to climb the steep spiral staircases to the top of the towers and be rewarded with the most incredible views across the River Rother valley towards Ewhurst Green and east towards Newenden. Plus, this autumn families can get closer to nature thanks to Hastings artist Claire Fletcher’s new spotter trail. Pick up your free spotter sheet and learn more about how nature changes with the seasons, with the help of Knight Sir Oakley and Princess Acorn

What’s on

  • Signs of autumn spotter sheet, 17 September–30 October 10am-4.30pm, 31 October – 13 November 10am-3.30pm
  • Dragon hunt, half term family trail, 15–30 October
  • Halloween craft workshop: Decorate a dragon or shield, 22–30 October 12.30-4pm
  • Interactive family storytelling in the northeast tower with Hastings-based artist Ed Boxall, 29 October 11am-12pm

Dogs welcome on short leads in the grounds. 

Normal admission charges apply, no additional event charges apart from the Dragon trail which is £2 per child and includes a small prize, and the craft workshop which is  £2.50/£5 per item

Chartwell, Kent 

Fiery colours take over the autumn borders and woodland surrounding the home of Sir Winston Churchill. The lakes reflect majestic trees, creating shimmers of burnt orange, yellow and gold. In the orchard, just outside the Walled Garden, branches are laden with apples that take the name of the great wartime leader himself. The majority of these are cooking apples, soon to be juiced.

Inside the Walled Garden the annual pumpkin display is in full throes come October. The pumpkins hang in individual nets, to ensure the moist soil will not cause them to rot prematurely.  

Dogs welcome in the gardens and estate on short leads.  

Wheelchairs are available to borrow from the Visitor Centre.

Nymans, West Sussex

Nymans is a grade II listed garden set around a romantic house and ruin. Its  views of the Weald make it the perfect spot to witness autumn colour. For the best snapshot head to the formal garden, which looks out across woodland, where the copper and yellow of beech, maple, hornbeam and oaks contrast with evergreens.

Autumn colour can also be found in the borders in the walled garden and within the South African meadow. The Messel family, who lived at Nymans for three generations were great collectors of rare and unusual plants and a large important South African collection was amongst them.

What’s on

  • Pumpkin trail, half term 24–30 October

Dogs welcome on short leads in the woodland and gardens from 31 October

Wheelchairs are available and may be pre-booked on 01444 405133

Mobility buggy tours around the garden are available every day, twice a day at 11.15 and 13.15. Pre booking is recommended on 01444 405133

Normal admission charges apply, pumpkin trail is free

Mottisfont - autumn days out

Mottisfont, Hampshire

Ancient trees, bubbling brooks and rolling lawns frame this 18th-century house with a medieval priory at its heart. 

Trees, including what’s thought to be the largest Great Plane in Britain, transform the grounds with canopies of golden colour from October onwards. In the kitchen garden everything planted here is culinary, medicinal or edible, reflecting Mottisfont’s medieval history and productive past.

Look out for colourful gourd displays in and close to the kitchen garden, where you’ll also find two wooden pergola walkways running the length of the kitchen garden. These are draped with vines and strangely-shaped gourds in autumn, planted with varieties such as speckled swan, which has a delightful curved neck, and the wiggly snake gourd.

Visitors are invited to help out in the gardens – leaf bins are dotted around the paddocks for throwing in fallen leaves for the gardens’ compost mix. There are mini wheelbarrows for kids to load up leaves too. Inside, illustrations from the world of Narnia will be on show in Mottisfont’s art gallery, drawn by Pauline Baynes, the original artist for C.S. Lewis’s famous series of children’s books.

Discover a fantastical world of magic, danger, and talking mythical beasts featuring best-loved characters including Aslan the lion and Mr Tumnus the fawn.

What’s on

  • Tales of Narnia: the artwork of Pauline Baynes exhibition, 24 September–6 November, 11am–4.30pm
  • Seasonal half-term activity trail, 24–30 October

Dogs on leads welcome in most of the gardens and the wider estate.

Five manual wheelchairs are available from the welcome centre on a first come first served basis.

Volunteer-driven mobility buggy service available on request for transport between the welcome centre, house entrance, stableyard (including Coach House Café), and entrance to the walled gardens.

Normal admission charges apply, no additional charges for the exhibition. Half-term trail £1.

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire 

Carved out of the ancient forests of Sherwood, Clumber Park is a beautiful expanse of parkland, heath and woods covering more than 3,800 acres. Once the country estate of the Dukes of Newcastle, there are many glimpses of its grand past to explore. Steal a glimpse of the Gothic chapel from across the serpentine lake on the 3.5 mile circular walking route, one of many across the estate.

Leading you through woodland and across heathland, this gentle walk is great for enjoying autumn colour and wildlife spotting. A wander down the longest avenue of Lime Trees in Europe is best enjoyed in autumn, with a golden carpet of leaves crunching beneath your feet. The estate also has its own fully restored and working four-acre walled kitchen garden.

Today the garden is home to the National Rhubarb Collection with over 130 varieties, as well as rocambole garlic and scorzonera – which is similar to an artichoke. It also has a large orchard, where over 100 varieties of apples are grown such as the famous Bramley and the not so famous but equally tasty Nottinghamshire Pippin.

Dogs on leads welcome in the walled kitchen garden and pleasure grounds. 

Mobility scooters can be hired free of charge. Phone 01909 511024 to book (subject to availability), Changing Places facility available.

Hardwick Hall - autumn days out
Changing of the seasons at Hardwick Hall

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire 

One of the greatest of all Elizabethan houses, this magnificent hall is testament to the vision, wealth, and connections of the formidable Bess of Hardwick. In the autumn the famous glass windows reflect the sun’s low rays, transforming the Hall into a lantern of light. In the orchards trees groan under the weight of apples, pears and stone fruits such as damsons and plums.

The hedgerows are also home to blackberries in September and sloe berries in late October. There are several walks around the estate, which are transformed  into a riot of reds and oranges by vast oak trees. Underfoot, an assortment of ground fungi becomes visible. It’s a great time to look out for the beautiful but deadly red and white toadstool the Fly Agaric, waxcaps, and the wonderfully named Stinkhorns, as well as Chicken of the Woods, Dryads Saddle and more.

Dogs (on leads) are welcome in the stableyard area including shop, restaurant (Reynolds Room) and toilets, as well as across the wider estate.

Wheelchair and tramper (x1) available for hire

Belton House, Lincolnshire 

Generations of the Brownlow family made their mark on Belton, commissioning the finest designers and craftsmen of their age to shape the estate we see today. Rustle your way through autumn leaves and enjoy the gorgeous golds and yellows of the lime trees along the cobbled drive.

Closer to the house, rich ruby and russet creepers clad the honey-coloured walls of the West Courtyard, where the sharp but sweet aroma of ripening quince lingers in the air. You might catch a fleeting glimpse of a majestic buck with a full set of antlers and gleaming coat with the Parkland Walk offering the best opportunity for visitors to admire the bucks fighting for power and attention.

Head back towards the house along sheltered paths via the Mirror Pond and a variety of specimen trees including a weeping beech, a twisted willow, and magnificent cedars.  

Dogs welcome in the garden and parkland.  

Alongside a shuttle bus service which operates daily, mobility scooters and trampers available to hire in advance.

Attingham Park, Shropshire  

With woodlands, pleasure grounds, deer park, walled garden and orchard, autumn is impressive at Attingham; as summer comes to an end and before winter draws in the autumn colours of golden yellows, ambers, red, deep greens and rich browns sweep across the estate and make a beautiful setting for exploring with friends or family.

As you stroll along the Mile Walk, take in the view across the River Tern to the changing colours of the woodland in the Deer Park. The Woodland Walk takes you closer to some of the magnificent trees at Attingham as it winds through the woodland at the top of the Deer Park. From September onwards the deer can be seen feeding on the acorns and conkers – they’re a great source of food for building the herd up for the rut and the coming winter.

At this time of year the bucks can be seen rearing up on their hind legs to knock the branches with their antlers to knock down more. From October onwards the breeding season, known as the rut, begins. During this period the bucks can be seen testing their strength against each other.

Dogs welcome on a lead in all of outdoor spaces other than in the designated off-lead area.

Trampers/Wheelchairs available to hire in advance, changing places facilities.

Croft Castle and Parkland, Herefordshire

Situated on the English-Welsh border, Croft is an ancient place steeped in British history and politics. With cottage gardens, wild woodlands, an Iron Age hillfort, rows of ancient trees, a working vineyard with 450 grapevines and a ‘Picturesque’ Fishpool Valley, Croft comes alive in autumn, with burnt oranges, bright yellows and deep reds emerging on the trees around the estate.

Croft is famous for its ancient trees and the autumn colour here is not to be missed; including the rows of Sweet Chestnuts and 1000 year old Quarry Oak. Fishpool Valley is particularly atmospheric during autumn. Kick up the fallen leaves along the beech hangar and admire the reflections in one of the seven pools (also home to the critically endangered white clawed crayfish who begin their breeding season in autumn).

Why not try one of our new walks through the valley or take a look inside the Gothic pumphouse while you visit? Croft’s estate is also renowned for its ancient trees, which look particularly majestic during autumn, try the ancient tree walk from the parkland map to take them in in all their glory.  

What’s on

  • Broomstick agility course 22–30 October, challenge your friends and family to a broomstick race this October half term. Borrow a broomstick (or bring your own!)
  • Wand making, 22–23 October, have a go at making your very own wand to take home with you, using wood from the estate.

Dogs on short leads welcome in the gardens and parkland.

A mobility scooter available to hire.

Normal admission charges apply, no additional charges apply but donations for wand making welcome

Blickling - autumn days out

Blickling Estate, Norfolk

The breath-taking Jacobean mansion and ancient yew hedges sit at the heart of a magnificent garden and historic park in the beautiful Bure meadows. The dazzling displays of autumn colour are abundant throughout the gardens and estate from the oak, beech, lime and sweet chestnut trees.

Enjoy a walk around the lake to see their colour reflected in the calm waters, or head to the Great Wood in search of weird and wonderful fungi. The view from the parterre’s terraced lawn is the perfect spot to watch each layer of colour unwrap as the day matures, great with a belly-warming soup made from walled-garden produce.

Dogs welcome in the parkland and Muddy Boots Café.

Felbrigg Hall, Gardens and Estate, Norfolk

One of the most elegant 17th century country houses in East Anglia, Felbrigg Hall is a place that surprises and delights. With its eye-catching autumn foliage and fungi, the Great Wood at Felbrigg is possibly one of Norfolk’s best kept secrets.

Take a stroll down the beech-lined ‘Victory V’ avenues, where the towering branches create tunnels of colour over your head. It’s worth making a detour down the Lion’s Mouth as well, where the narrow winding lane flanked by trees really does feel like it is entering the jaws of a fire-coloured lion.

While the garden at Felbrigg provides all sorts of varieties of gourds, squashes and pumpkins, ready for harvest time at the hall. Look out for the Hall decorated for harvest, or if you visit later, there might even be some left over to take home with you.

Dogs welcome in the Squire’s Pantry café and on short leads in the wider estate. 

Horsey Windpump, Norfolk

Horsey Windpump is an iconic building with a fascinating past and the perfect gateway to experience the connection between man and nature. Standing sentinel over its surroundings, you can take in the autumnal view of the mere and Broadland landscape. Enjoy a walk along Waxham Cut and through the village or take the path down to Horsey Beach, where fire-coloured leaves capture your gaze in every direction.

This remote location is secluded and famed for its internationally important wildlife. In September, keep a look out for bearded tits grouping together in the reed beds, cranes becoming more active, and if you are lucky, you may see a migrating Osprey pass through.

Come October, fungi are abundant in all its weird and wonderful shapes, colours, and names, such as chicken-of-the woods, beefsteak, waxcaps, candle snuff, stinkhorn, and the deceiver. Pink-footed geese numbers are on the rise and the deer ruts are in full swing. November brings the continuing migration of blackbirds, skylarks and thrushes. It’s also the month when grey seal colonies congregate for the breeding season, which is always a remarkable sight.

What’s on

  • Walk with a Ranger, 9 October at 1pm-3pm (times TBC)
  • Half-term activities, 26 October
  • Heigham Holmes Deer Ramble, 27 November at 2pm–4pm (times TBC)

Dogs welcome on leads on estate walks and gardens. Assistance dogs only inside the Windpump.

Walk with a Ranger and Heigham Holmes Deer Ramble events to be booked through the website.

Sheringham Park - autumn days out

Sheringham Park, Norfolk 

Wander through Sheringham Park to discover its ancient and remarkable specimen trees, such as the golden larch and smooth Japanese maple. Scattered through the leaf litter, weird and wonderful fungi grow in abundance – the un-sung heroes of autumn.

There are around 100 species of fungi to spot at Sheringham Park, including nationally rare lilac mushrooms and golden bootlegs. Veteran beech and oak trees will often react to drops in temperature to provide a golden display in the Wild Garden, often coinciding with the colourful show of fungi.  Rowan berries decorate the park providing a food source for many birds. Blackbirds can be seen trying to defend bushes of fruit, which are equally attractive for flocks of fieldfare and redwings which migrate to our warmer climes for the winter.

Autumn is often a good time to observe butterflies with freshly emerged red admirals, peacocks and small tortoiseshells to be seen. Southern hawker and common darter dragonflies are both very active, the Bower pond is good place to sit back and enjoy them.

Dogs welcome on short leads in parkland. 

Manual wheelchairs and mobility scooters available to hire on a first come, first served basis from 10am.

Owl prowl, £6 for adults, £4 for children (including National Trust members)

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk 

It’s hard not to fall in love with Oxburgh Hall, when you catch your first glimpse of the imposing brick manor house reflected in the tranquil moat. In autumn the beech trees in the wilderness offer spectacular displays of colour. They go copper orange just before they fall and look particularly beautiful in the low sun and mist of early autumn mornings and in late afternoon as the sun moves out from behind the house they suddenly ‘pop’ with colour.

As the fruits of the orchard ripen their colours will begin to show, especially the dark red Harry Baker crab apple, yellow quince, and the reds, greens and yellows of East Anglia heritage apples. 

Autumn sees an influx of migratory birds to the parkland landscape. Particularly Redwing and Fieldfare which feast on the abundant tree-fruits across the estate. When they run out, they take advantage of the soil dwelling insects to help them survive the winter. They return to their breeding ground in Scandinavia, favouring arctic summers to raise their young.

What’s on

  • Orienteering trail, daily throughout autumn
  • Half term trail-Autumn Scavenger Hunt, daily from 24–30 October

Dogs welcome on short leads in gardens and parkland, as well as the bookshop and tearoom.

Manual wheelchairs are available to borrow

Normal admission charges apply, £1.50 per child for Autumn Scavenger Hunt (includes booklet and pencil)

Ickworth, Suffolk 

Ickworth is an Italianate Palace in the heart of an ancient park. Formal gardens, pleasure grounds, rolling Suffolk landscape and woodlands invite gentle strolls or long walks, runs and bike rides. For the best of the autumn colour, head for the Albana walk where the maples, chestnut, beech and oak trees range from bright yellow to deep red at this time of year.

Alternatively follow the red route and enjoy a walk through Lownde Wood, taking in the colours or the park. Look out for “Fairy Rings” in the Parkland which are naturally occurring circles made up of mushrooms. The mushrooms grow out of the ground in a circle shape and can grow to be over 100 metres in diameter. On the wider estate ancient woodland provides likely spots for deer sightings. The fallow deer rut usually starts at the end of October with the bucks (males) bellowing to attract females and sparring with other bucks.

Dogs welcome on short leads on estate walks. 

Mobility scooters and Wheelchairs are available for loan

Wimpole Estate

Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire 

Wimpole is a working estate still guided by the seasons, with a mansion, parkland, gardens and Home Farm. Wimpole’s walled garden features a large orchard with over 400 fruit trees including apple, pear, plum, greengage, medlar and quince varieties. The apples are used to create Wimpole Apple Juice, which is sold in the restaurant and shop.

This year the team will be harvesting the produce from the new no dig quadrants in the walled garden. This method of producing fruit and vegetables uses natural organisms to break down and improve soil quality, saving the need for power tools and compost. It also naturally supresses weeds. Don’t forget to visit the glasshouse home to displays of autumn squashes, gourds and pumpkins.

Make the most of the autumn colours with a meander around the estate on a circular walk. From here you’ll be able to enjoy views of the lakes, Chinese Bridge, and 18th-century folly, as well as the magnificent trees that create the perfect backdrop at this time of year.

Why not explore the wider estate with our new multi-use trail? Designed for runners, walkers, cyclists and adapted wheelchair users, this safe off-road trail is ideal to explore the outdoors and witness autumn in all of its colourful glory.

The wider parkland is a haven for wildlife, and in autumn visitors may see migrant birds before they make their journey home, including house martins and swallows. Fungi can be found within the trees, look out for special varieties including Deadman’s Fingers, Candle Snuff and Chicken of the Woods. Muntjac deer and hares can be seen in the gardens and parkland.

Dogs welcome on short lead in parkland. 

Mobility Scooters & Wheelchairs are available to hire

Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire

With glorious autumn colour and wildlife at every turn, Dunstable Downs is a joy to explore this autumn. Look out for the resident birds like wrens, robins and blackbirds enjoying the hedgerows bursting with berries and redwing and fieldfare as they stop off on their long migration. Mammals including mice, shrews and bats will be foraging for food in and taking shelter while the hedgehogs prepare for their long winter rest. Walk through Whipsnade Tree Cathedral and see how the colours and textures change as the weeks go by.

On a warm autumn day, bring a picnic and relax as you take in the far-reaching views. On cooler days you can still enjoy the views while you warm up with a hot cuppa or delicious lunch from the dog friendly café.

Dunstable Downs is easily accessible by bus from Dunstable town centre and a footpath leads all the way from the Gateway Visitor Centre into Dunstable. Mobility scooters are free to hire.

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire 

Lord Fairhaven and his brother bought Anglesey Abbey in 1926 and turned the grounds into a year-round garden, with different areas within its 114 acres coming into their own in different seasons.

Highlights during the autumn include the hornbeams that form Jubilee Avenue and turn into a golden tunnel at this time of year, and the Temple, a sculpture of large columns set against a colourful mixture of beech, alder and sycamore trees, with drifts of pink cyclamen carpeting the ground along the riverside walk. Work to re-establish an orchard at Anglesey Abbey is in its third year, with apples, pears, plums and greenage all coming into fruit.

The main event at Anglesey during autumn, however, is the dahlia displays, with more than 70 varieties in striking colours in the Dahlia and Formal gardens.

Assistance dogs only.  

Limited wheelchair and mobility vehicle hire available, please book in advance.

Buckland Abbey

Buckland Abbey, Devon  

When you visit Buckland Abbey, you follow over 700 years of footsteps; from the Cistercians who built the Abbey and farmed the estate, to seafarers Grenville and Drake who changed the shape of the house and the fate of the country. A multicoloured carpet of yellow, brown and crimson scatters the walking trails at Buckland Abbey – perfect for a spot of forest bathing. This year you can join Rangers for a ramble along these walks, collecting leaves, acorns and twigs and learning the effects of the changing seasons on nature.

Amongst the old oak trees, take a moment to rest, silently observe the nature around you – can you hear the buzzards gliding through the trees? Or leaves crunching under foot?

Children’s trails around the garden and the yellow route estate walk will help you to discover the colours of nature in this vibrant season and to learn some of Autumn’s most treasured plants. Apple day (22 October) is the perfect time to take home some of your own apples from the trees in Buckland’s orchard, make your own willow headdress, take part in apple fishing and test your knowledge of the fruit with a quiz.

What’s on

  • Apple day, 22 October, apple picking, headdress making and apple fishing

Dogs are welcome on estate walks, but we ask that you please keep them on a lead.

Normal admission charges apply throughout September and October.

Brownsea Island, Dorset

Brownsea Island is dramatically located in Poole Harbour, with spectacular views across to the Purbeck Hills. Thriving habitats including woodland, heathland and a lagoon create a unique haven for wildlife.

By October, Fungi will appear across the reserve and the island’s resident red squirrels will be busy stockpiling for winter. Autumn is a great time for squirrel spotting as they begin the act of ‘scatter hoarding’. This is a process that splits the risk of losing their stash to another squirrel, as they bury  their food in several scattered horads across the island. Watch on as they reap the rewards of autumn’s bounty, gathering seeds, nuts, fungi and berries. The distinctive whistle of the sika stags ring out across the island and tension is in the air as they gear up for the rut.

What’s on

  • Early bird walk and breakfast, 15 October, 7.30-10.30am
  • Fungi foray, 22 October, 7.30–11.30am
  • Half term – Scary squirrel stories trail, 22 to 30 October inclusive
  • Free red squirrel walks (subject to staff and volunteer availability), various dates up to 30 October

Dogs are not permitted with the exception of assistance dogs

Free all terrain wheelchairs available for visitors to hire. Booking essential

Booking essential for fungi foray and early bird walk, £28.50 for adults, £14.25 for children (including National Trust members), price includes boat across and breakfast.

Stourhead, Wiltshire

Visit one of the world’s finest landscape gardens and see vistas highlighted with burnished leaves and rusty colour palettes. With a breath-taking lake at its centre, the garden is planned with temples and follies and a planting scheme which allows the colours to wash through the landscape seasonally. Brilliant red maples kick things off, followed by their Japanese cousins, hornbeams and chestnuts, and later yellow tulip trees and rusty orange oaks and beeches.  

What’s on

  • Dormouse’s Fantastic Feast, 20-30 October, free trail, join dormouse and friends on the hunt for the perfect party food for the great autumn feast

Dogs welcome on short leads.  

Wheelchair accessible gravel paths with marked routes, steep in places.

A limited number of mountain trike wheelchairs and trampers are available to hire, to avoid disappointment please call 01747 841152 to pre-book.

Normal admission charges apply, no additional charges for half term trail

Penrhyn Castle
Views over the Menai Straits from the grounds of Penryn Castle.

Penrhyn Castle, Bangor

Set on the Menai Straits, with a backdrop of Snowdonia’s summits, Penrhyn Castle looks spectacular in the autumn as the red Virginia Creeper covers the castle walls and the trees turn golden. Over the autumn half term, follow the unexpected journey of a pineapple around Penrhyn Castle. From its roots in South America to the gardens of Penrhyn, the pineapple’s journey reveals how the food we eat today connects us to the rest of the world.  Siwan Llynor will be returning to tell Stinky Stories in the Dung Tower, be immersed into the world of a scullery maid and listen to her mystical stories.

What’s on

  • Penrhyn’s Pineapple Journey
  • Stinky Stories in the Dung Tower

Dogs on short leads are welcome in the garden.

Normal admission charges apply, no additional charges for trails, self-led walks or half term activities  

Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire

A magical land of power and influence for more than 2,000 years, Dinefwr is an iconic place in the history of Wales. Standing proudly at the heart of the estate is Newton House, a family home for over three hundred years to the descendants of Lord Rhys, the powerful Prince of the Welsh Kingdom of the Deheubarth.

In autumn, the Dinefwr 18th-century parkland explodes into a riot of colour when its veteran trees display an impressive crown of gold, red and orange leaves. Standing in the shadows of Dinefwr Castle on the 800-acre National Nature Reserve is an ancient oak tree, named Castle Oak.

Estimated to be over 800 years old, it means this mighty tree would have been a sapling when Dinefwr Castle was being built over eight centuries ago. Enjoy the best of what the estate has to offer on a walk designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown when he visited Dinefwr in 1775. See some of the oldest trees in Wales framing stunning views of Newton House, hear or catch sight of the fallow deer rutting, discover an amazing variety of plants and insects, and watch out for ravens and red kites which nest in the trees around you.

What’s on

After dark tours of Newton House, 28–31 October 8–9pm (age 16+)

Dogs on short leads are welcome.
Normal admission charges apply, no additional charges for trails, self-led walks, or half term activities.

Tradegar House - autumn days out
The open grounds of Tredegar House near Newport.

Tredegar House, Newport   

Tredegar House is one of the architectural wonders of Wales and one of the most significant late 17th-century houses in the whole of the British Isles, situated within 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland. With plenty to explore, both inside and out, it is an ideal place to spend an autumnal day out.

The house is an ideal haven in wet weather, with three floors to explore. We’ll also be running ‘folklore and the unexplained’ tours, where visitors will be able to hear tales of the unexpected and some of the stranger stories from the Morgan family history. Historians will take visitors on a journey to shadowy corners of the house where mysterious events have taken place.  

Spark your senses by following the free, self-led sensory trail through the parkland, designed for all abilities. Feel the crunch of the leaves beneath you, smell the crisp autumn air and listen to the birds as they gather in murmuration’s before flying south for winter.

Download your map to help you find the pink markers which will guide you on your sensory journey.  In the gardens, the summer blooms will begin to retreat into rustic hues of orange and yellow.

Visitors will be able to discover more about the agricultural history of the area, with a harvest celebration featuring behind the scenes and home farm tours in early September, or make the most of the spooky season with pumpkin carving and crafts over Halloween weekend. 

What’s on

  • Folklore and the unexplained (guided tours for adults), Fridays and Saturdays from 14–29 October, 6pm–8pm
  • Half term pumpkin carving, 29, 30, 31 October

Dogs welcome in the parkland, and on a lead in the gardens, café and second-hand bookshop  

Limited number of wheelchairs and one mobility scooter in visitor reception for visitors to borrow. Contact [email protected] to reserve in advance.

Normal admission charges apply, pumpkin carving is an additional £4 per person

Folklore and the unexplained tours, £12.50  

If you found X useful, check our What’s on channel for more seasonal events and days out.

Tags: , Last modified: October 4, 2022

Written by 5:19 pm What's on, Outdoor leisure