Autumn is almost upon us, bringing cosy nights, golden light and striking seasonal colour as the trees prepare to shed their leaves.
Make the very most of this natural spectacle, whether in the UK or travelling further afield, with these leaf-peeping holiday suggestions
Leap into ‘leaf peeping’ this Autumn – from £225 at Tylney Hall
The National Trust Vyne’s gardens and woodlands, in Hampshire, are often overshadowed by the site’s illustrious Tudor palace that welcomed Tudor kings across five centuries. However, its vast landscape offers an unrivalled display of colours as the seasons shift. Embark on a ‘leaf-peeping’ adventure on The Vyne’s autumn colour hunt. Feel the crunch of the foliage underfoot as you seek out the blazing reds and rusty browns on the colour hunt key provided. And no leaf-peeping season could be complete without a hearty dose of traditional English charm; after a long day on foot, check into Tylney Hall Hotel, tuck into one of the restaurant’s exquisite dishes and enjoy the surrounding views of sweeping Hampshire countryside. Bursting with character and charm, every room in this property is a little world of its own, boasting unashamed luxury. Price from £225 (based on two sharing a Deluxe Bedroom). Visit tylneyhall.co.uk or call 01256 764881 to book.
Prepare to see the Cotswolds aglow this Autumn – stay from £350 with POB Hotels
Autumn: the season that sets the forest aglow with a gleaming palette of golden colours. Explore the breath-taking washes of colour this year at The National Arboretum. To welcome the changing season, watch the colours of the exotic trees and shrublands turn magnificent crimson reds and flaming oranges. Relax, enjoy a picnic and breathe in the Cotswolds’ country air before checking in to Whatley Manor Hotel nearby. Unwind for the evening at Grey’s Brasserie (holds a green Michelin star for sustainable gastronomy), savouring the bursting flavour of the restaurant’s delicate dishes, before checking into your effortlessly elegant suite for some deserved shuteye. Alternatively, wine and dine like a royal at the 18th-century palace, Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa. Whether you’re after exquisite seasonal cuisine, a stroll through the 500 acres of secluded parkland or four-poster luxury designed solely for cosy lie-ins, room service and serious R&R, they’ve got it covered. Room price from £379 including bed and full English breakfast at Whatley Manor. Classic room from £350 at Lucknam Park Hotel. Visit www.prideofbritainhotels.com or call 0800 089 3929 to book.
Over 400 years old, visit the New Forest’s longest standing tree – from £150 pp with Yescapa
Calling all nature lovers! A prolonged Indian Summer calls for more travel dates in the diary. Get away to the New Forest on a country adventure this autumn and watch glowing crimson reds and oranges emerge from vast screens of green. Cruise through country lanes with the whole family in this 6-berth Luxury Low Profile Motorhome. Make sure to take a trip to the New Forest’s oldest tree, believed to have been planted in 1600, on the Knightwood Oak Trail. Finish your walk, surrounded by abundant nature and wildlife, with a perfect sunset picnic. A four-night hire in September costs from £600 including shower, kitchen facilities and mileage (200km per day). There is a flexible cancellation policy up to 48 hours in advance. Contact Yescapa (www.yescapa.co.uk).
See the falling Autumn leaves change colour at Brandon Country Park– from as little as £165 with Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa
With summer losing its bloom and ushering in autumn, Suffolk becomes one of the best places in the UK to see the falling leaves as they change colour. For those keen to enjoy this magical time to the fullest there is Brandon Country Park – home to thousands of tree species, offering incredible displays of golds, pinks, glowing reds and vibrant yellows as autumn approaches. For keen ramblers, there are many nearby walking trails through the park’s wilderness, sweeping past False Acacia, Monkey Puzzle and Giant Redwoods which are dotted throughout the 30-acre site. Only 30 minutes’ drive away is the four AA Red Star Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa, which sits in three acres of secluded, landscaped gardens adjacent to Newmarket’s famous paddocks and horse-racing training stables. For extra inspiration, sit on the hotel terrace, wrap up warm with a hot toddy and admire the stunning hues in the hotel grounds. Guests can enjoy an overnight stay from £165 per room (two sharing a king-sized bedroom), including full English breakfast and use of the Health & Fitness Club. Visit www.bedfordlodgehotel.co.uk or call 01638 663175.
Gateway to an awesome Autumn display – North York Moors from £142 pp with holidaycottages.co.uk
Situated on the southern slopes of the spectacular North York Moors, Dalby Forest boasts no less than 8,000 acres of woodland to explore and enjoy. At its absolute best in autumn, here you’ll discover the blues and greens of pines and spruces being complemented by the golden needles of larch, the bright yellow of ash leaves, the red leaves of wild cherries, and the russet browns of oak. There are plenty of waymarked trails for walkers and cyclists of all abilities, plus strategically positioned picnic tables to encourage even the most active autumn visitor to take a break for moment and simply soak up the views. Stay in nearby Thornton-Le-Dale – renowned as one of the prettiest villages in the UK – at Gateways (sleeps five) a beautiful stone cottage that blends contemporary and traditional style, with a cosy wood burner in the lounge, three lovely bedrooms and a sheltered private garden. A week’s self-catering stay in October costs from £142 pp (£708 total) with holidaycottages.co.uk.
Leaf peeping in the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley – from £130 pp with a Blue Badge Tourist Guide
One of the last ancient forests in the UK, the Forest of Dean – set between the River Severn and the River Wye – was once a hunting ground of Norman kings. Today, it’s our largest oak woodland (around 20 million trees) and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Explore its spectacular autumn hues in the company of local expert and Blue Badge Driver Guide, David Waite, whose leaf peeping tours take you into the very heart of the forest. A full-day private tour of the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley for up to seven people, tailored to your requirements, costs from £130 pp (charged for the first four guests only) and includes pre-booked entry to one National Trust site (free to NT members). Available daily from 25 October to 25 November. To book, call David Waite on 07788 581539 or visit www.britainsbestguides.org/guides/david-waite. The Institute of Tourist Guiding (www.itg.org.uk), the professional body for tourist guides, is committed to developing, maintaining and promoting the highest standards in tourist guiding.
A tranquil, Arctic Autumn in Northern Norway – from £2,140 pp with Sunvil*
Autumn is considered the best time of year to visit the Arctic, and to view one of the most dramatic landscapes in the world as it changes from summer green to autumn scarlet, gold, and auburn. As the darkness creeps back to create shorter days, and calm and serenity coat the forests and lakes, explore the Arctic wilderness in all its glory in Alta, Northern Norway. View the breath-taking vistas, hunt for the magnificent, ethereal Northern Lights, fish for king crab, go reindeer trekking with the native Sami, and meet a musher and his huskies. Stay at the Arctic Wilderness Lodge for this four-night ‘Best of Arctic Autumn’ adventure, with the backdrop of the surrounding golden wooded hillsides and the Alta River, from £2,140 pp (two sharing) including full board accommodation, return flights (London Heathrow) with 23kg hold luggage and transfers. Departs 15 September to 30 November. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4722 (www.sunvil.co.uk).
Autumn in abundance amid Japan’s Earthly Treasures – small group tour for £4,745 pp with Jules Verne
Take your leaf peeping experience up a notch this autumn during a journey across Japan that explores the country’s finest gardens, as well as its myriad cultural treasures, against a backdrop of spectacular golden and brightly-hued foliage. Timed to make the most of this stunning time of year, this small group tour blends bustling Tokyo and travel by bullet train with visits to imperial palaces, castles and classical sites. Spend an unforgettable night near Mount Fuji in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and enjoy the onsen (hot springs), experience a tea ceremony at Kyoto’s impressive Daitokuji temple, watch a geisha song and dance performance, visit shrines and a silver mine… and much more. Japan’s Earthly Treasures costs £4,745 pp (two sharing), including flights (Heathrow), 11 nights’ B&B (four nights in Tokyo, two nights each in Kyoto and Matsue, and one night each in Kami Suwa, Kanazawa and Osaka), eight lunches, two dinners, excursions, and the services of expert local guides and representatives. Departs 7 November. Call Jules Verne on 020 3553 3722 (www.vjv.com).
The Gardens of Marrakech – Morocco’s autumn hues from £2,949 pp with Kirker*
For many travellers, ‘leap peeping’ conjures up images of woodlands across the UK, Europe or North America, bathed spectacularly in shades of gold, red and brown as they transition from summer to winter. This year, why not shake things up a bit and make for Marrakech? The city’s distinctive russet-coloured buildings blend beautifully with the colours of the season and benevolent temperatures make sightseeing at this time of year infinitely more achievable than during the warmer months. Enjoy early autumn sunshine, sensational gardens and a striking colour palette during a small group tour that explores Gardens of Marrakech, such as the famous (and strikingly blue) Jardins Majorelle, created by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, plus several private gardens which are not normally open to the public, and a spends a day in the magnificent Atlas Mountains. This seven-night holiday costs from £2,949 pp (two sharing), including flights (Heathrow), B&B at the four-star Jardins de la Medina, three lunches, three dinners, excursions, and the services of the Kirker Tour Lecturer, Kirsty Fergusson. Departs 6 November. Call AITO* member Kirker on 020 7593 2288, www.kirkerholidays.com.