September 23rd marks the start of the Autumn equinox which means fresher mornings, cosier clothing and heavier duty footwear! It’s also the time when the UK’s natural landscapes dramatically change from a sea of green to vibrant yellows, oranges, and browns, as deciduous trees shed their leaves and embrace the seasonal change.

September temperatures are still relatively mild, averaging a daily high of 17 degrees Celsius, with the sun not setting until around 7pm, so it’s a great month to visit some of the UK’s prettiest leaf-peeping spots. The team at Fitflop has researched 6 of the UK’s most Googled Autumn walk locations to uncover the most in-demand spots, so all you need to do is plan your journey and don’t forget your walking shoes!

1) South West: Cheddar Gorge Trail, Somerset (Distance: 4 miles)

Photo by Ian Kelsall on Unsplash

Forming around one million years ago the stunning Cheddar Gorge in Somerset is almost 400ft (122m) deep and 3 miles (4.8km) long, giving it the title of England’s largest gorge. With 188,500 online searches between September to November, it’s also the most Googled location for Autumn visits! Along this fairly challenging weathered and craggy trail you’ll find some steep climbs, a wide variety of plants and wildlife and, if you time it right, some stunning sundowners! Start at the Cheddar Visitor Information Centre and head down Cufic Lane, following the signposts for the ‘Gorge walk’ which will pass woodland to fields, then take you out to the cliff top viewpoint.

2) South West: Westonbirt Aboretum (Distance: 1 mile, Visitor fee applicable)

Photo by Lark Ascending  on Flickr

Westonbirt Arboretum is one of the most diverse botanical tree collections in the world  where you can explore 2,500 different species, making for a magical, sensory walk. From the welcome centre, head right along the wheelchair-accessible path towards the old arboretum where you’ll pass The Acer Glade with trees, a pond and open grassland, followed by The Victory and The Savill Glades, which both showcase stunning seasonal tree displays at this time of year. Don’t forget to look out for blue labels on ‘champion’ trees – the largest of their species in Britain!  For those wanting a longer trail, the walk can be extended by 2 miles from the restaurant by following the Westerly trail toward the Cherry Glade and Japanese maple collection. With 164,100 online searches last Autumn, this was the UK’s most searched for Arboretum.

3) North West: Dunham Massey (Distance: 2.5 miles, Visitor fee applicable)

Photo by Big Albert on Flickr

Home to one of the finest collections of veteran trees in England, it’s not hard to see why Dunham Massey was searched for 143,100 times last Autumn! A beautiful trail which includes 150 resident fallow deer and many rare insect species, including the cobweb beetle and noctule bats. Starting at the Clock Tower, this walk pases by a 16th-century watermill, pretty variegated beech tree, a stretch of water called Dead Man’s Pool, the Langham Obelisk, 250-year old gnarled oak trees, pollarded lime trees and, by the Stallion Pound, a 500 year old oak tree. Autumn is deer rutting season so you may even see some stags competing for the females – so keep your distance!

4) South West: Stourhead (Distance: 5.5 miles)

Photo by Stewart Black on Flickr

With 128,100 Google searches last Autumn, Stourhead is next onthe list. Home to a pretty Palladian-style house, world-famous landscape garden with tranquil lake and surrounded by 2,560 acres of countryside combining ancient woods, farmland, chalk downs, and lots of history. Built in 1772, Alfred’s Tower is a 160ft (49m) high folly believed to mark the site where King Alfred the Great rallied his troops in 878. Fall is an ideal time to do the circular walk to Alfred’s Tower as the landscape gardens and woodlands provide an abundance of colour and real feast for the eyes. On the return, you’ll also pass Park Hill Camp Iron Age hillfort, Turner’s Paddock lake and waterwheel. Beady-eyed bird-lovers may also spot nuthatches, tree creepers and long-tailed tits on the way.

5) North West:Tatton Park, Cheshire (Distance: 2.5 – 5.5 miles)

Photo by Tom Bullock on Flickr

Tatton Park is searched for online 114,100 in Autumn and offers a great walk for families. It has 1,000 acres of parkland encompassing ancient trees, waterways, wildlife and Red and Fallow deer, and child-friendly activities like den-building, a mud kitchen and Autumn Forager Trail. The Parkland and Tatton Mere, a popular fishing spot, burst with wildlife and colour in Autumn and offer two walk options;  the 2.5 mile walk around Tatton Mere where you’ll spot swans and ducks, or an extended 5.5 mile circular walk around the Parkland where you may spot bats and migrating thrushes, such as redwing and fieldfare arriving from Scandinavia.

6) North East: Belton House & Park, Lincolnshire (Distance: 3.2 Miles, Visitor fee applicable)

Photo by Brian  on Flickr

Belton House, Googled 100,700 times last Autumn, is a 17th century stately home and gardens established by the Brownlow family which, more recently, featured in Netflix series ‘Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story’. Aside from the impressive interiors, the Belton Park circular walk boasts some wonderful, natural sights including a deer park, old woodland, historic structures, site of an old medieval village, and a wide range of wildlife. Start the walk at the front steps of Belton House, follow the gravel path right into the park, eventually turning right at the second wooden gate into the old wood. Once through the wood, follow the fence line at the edge of the golf course to head downhill toward the river and deserted medieval village of Towthorpe. Nearing the end, you’ll pass a sycamore which was planted when the mansion was built!

For tips on what to look for when choosing the best walking shoes, please visit: 

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