Where are the best locations in the UK to observe the autumn foliage?

As the summer sun retreats and the air turns crisp, the United Kingdom erupts into a symphony of colour. From the northern reaches of Scotland to the southern tip of Cornwall, trees are adorned with leaves of vivid red, deep orange, and gleaming gold. This natural spectacle is one of the most enchanting aspects of the British autumn, and is keenly anticipated by both locals and tourists alike. So where are the best locations in the UK to observe the autumn foliage? We've handpicked some of the most stunning spots for you to consider.

The Lake District, Cumbria

Nestled in the heart of the country, the Lake District in Cumbria is an idyllic option to start your autumnal exploration. As the season progresses, the verdant summer landscape transforms into a riot of colour, painting the hills and valleys in resplendent hues.

The Lake District is home to some of the most picturesque walks in the UK, with trails leading through dense woodland areas, around shimmering lakes and up imposing fells. These myriad paths offer ample opportunities to immerse yourself in the autumn spectacle. The Borrowdale and Buttermere Valleys, in particular, are renowned for their stunning autumnal displays, with the native oak and ash trees providing a vibrant palette of reds, oranges and yellows.

New Forest, Hampshire

Venture south to Hampshire and you'll discover the New Forest - an ancient woodland and national park that is home to some of the oldest trees in the UK. Here, the autumn foliage is nothing short of breathtaking, as the sprawling beech, oak and holly trees shed their summer greens.

The New Forest offers countless quiet trails, where you'll encounter free-roaming ponies, ancient trees, and tranquil ponds. Particularly noteworthy is the Knightwood Oak, which is said to be the oldest and largest oak in the forest. This grand old tree is an autumn spectacle in itself, its leaves morphing into a dazzling display of fiery reds and golden yellows.

The Scottish Highlands

For a truly dramatic backdrop to your autumn trip, venture north to the Scottish Highlands. The rugged landscape is a sight to behold at any time of the year, but in autumn it becomes truly magical. The highland forests, dominated by birch, aspen and rowan trees, assume an otherworldly beauty as their leaves turn to gold.

The Isle of Skye and the Cairngorms National Park are among the highlights in this region. The former is known for its distinctive landscape of towering cliffs and mysterious lochs, which are beautifully enhanced by the autumn colours. The latter, meanwhile, offers a unique blend of mountain and forest scenery, with the larch trees providing a particularly vibrant display.

Exmoor National Park, Somerset

Dotted with charming villages and expansive moorlands, Exmoor National Park in Somerset is an autumnal paradise. The Exmoor forests are a blend of oak, beech, ash and sweet chestnut, each contributing to the kaleidoscope of colour that typifies the season.

The park’s valleys, in particular, offer breathtaking views of the autumn foliage. The East Lyn Valley and the Heddon Valley are popular spots, with their walking trails offering panoramic views of the autumn spectacle.

Wye Valley, Wales

Straddling the border between England and Wales, the Wye Valley is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In autumn, the valley is transformed into a spectacular display of colour, with the native beech, ash and oak trees leading the charge.

The Wye Valley offers an array of picturesque walking trails, taking you through historic woodland, along the meandering River Wye, and up to viewpoints that offer stunning vistas of the autumnal landscape. The Tintern Abbey and the Forest of Dean are particular highlights, their woodland floors carpeted in a sea of red and gold leaves.

As autumn embraces the United Kingdom in its fiery grip, the country transforms into a wonderland of colour and beauty. From the rugged landscapes of the Scottish Highlands to the serene beauty of the Wye Valley, these are some of the best places to witness this magical spectacle. Grab your camera, lace up your walking boots, and immerse yourself in the glorious hues of autumn.

Peak District National Park, Derbyshire

Continuing on your autumnal journey, don't miss out on the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire. Known for its expansive rolling hills, rugged cliffs and enchanting forests, the park boasts a striking array of colours in the autumn months.

Within the park, the mixture of broadleaf woodland and heather moorland creates a unique palette of colour. The trees, predominantly oak, beech, and birch, turn vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow, contrasting beautifully with the deep purple of the heather-covered moorlands. The Ladybower Reservoir and its surrounding woodland is a particularly good spot for observing the autumn foliage.

The Peak District offers various footpaths and trails, providing a fantastic opportunity to get outside and experience the autumn spectacle first-hand. The Monsal Trail, a traffic-free route following an old railway line, is particularly notable. This trail offers excellent views of the surrounding landscape and its autumn hues.

Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire

Finally, head north to the Yorkshire Dales National Park, an expanse of valleys, hills and charming villages in North Yorkshire. The park’s varied landscape, which includes broadleaf woodland, limestone cliffs and sprawling moorland, offers a beautiful array of autumn colours.

The woodland areas, dominated by ash, oak and beech trees, are a great place to observe the autumn foliage. The trees turn a stunning mixture of red, orange and yellow, creating a striking contrast with the dark green fields and the grey limestone cliffs. The Bolton Abbey Estate and Strid Wood are particularly good spots for autumn walks.

Moreover, the park is crisscrossed by numerous footpaths and trails, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the autumnal landscape. The Yorkshire Three Peaks route, which takes in the summits of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, offers some of the most breathtaking views of the autumn colours.


As the seasons change and autumn descends upon the United Kingdom, the country transforms into a vibrant canvas of reds, oranges, and golds. From the serene beauty of the Lake District to the rugged charm of the Scottish Highlands, from the ancient forests of the New Forest to the charming hills of the Peak District, there is no shortage of places to admire the autumn spectacle.

These locations, each with their unique landscapes and colour palettes, offer the perfect setting for an autumnal adventure. With their stunning vistas and picturesque trails, they invite you to step outdoors, breathe in the crisp autumn air, and lose yourself in the beauty of the season.

So grab your coat, tie your walking boots, and set off on your journey. Witness the leaves change, listen to the crunch underfoot, and watch the UK come alive with the glorious hues of autumn. Whether you are a nature enthusiast, a keen photographer, or simply someone looking for a peaceful getaway, these are the spots you wouldn't want to miss this autumn.