BONUS UPDATE: See Bath's stunning Botanical Gardens this Autumn! Extra location listed below:
Beautiful Bath in Autumn
Just as the final flames of the summer barbecues die down, Autumn arrives bringing a distinctive smell in the air of rich fruits and mist vapour on a fresher breeze. The shift into the new season feels like a new beginning rather than an end, a chance to dive through the wardrobe looking for that favourite woolly jumper, tugging on some sturdy boots and getting out into the great outdoors (or city) to explore.
In Bath that means one thing - Autumn colour! Being located in such a leafy, green part of the country we are slowly rewarded for enduring this year's intense heat over the next few months. Fading summer green hues begin to change before our eyes, revealing stunning tones underneath in the tree canopies, shrubs and hedegrows. It's a visual theatre show transforming city streets and countryside into a kaleidoscopic display of wonder.
The parks and gardens in Bath are incredible for autumn colour which satisfy any crisp, frosty morning stroll but even better are the woodlands and valleys surrounding the city. When you're done kicking the leaves in Bath, take a journey through the trees to some of these other places to welcome in the new season in all it's glory:
1. Westonbirt Arboretum
When Autumn arrives in South West UK one place springs to mind that attracts people back year on year. The Silk Wood Trail at Westonbirt Arboretum takes you on a journey through a vivid feast of colour - paths and collections of trees mingle together creating a patchwork of interest with the main show-stopping highlight being the Japanese Maple collection, rightly taking centre stage.
Over 15,000 trees sourced globally make up the collection at Westonbirt and every conceivable colour reflected in the diverse leaf patterns, stems and trunks.
Top Tip: Arrive early in the season whilst the grass remains green and if you can, visit mid week to avoid the crowds. Bring an id book and see how many different species you can spot!
How to get there: From Bath, take the A46 north to South Gloucestershire and follow the right turning just after Dunkirk along the A433 to Westonbirt Village. Postcode: GL8 8QS
Ample parking, refreshments and shop.
Admission costs: £10 Adult/£4 Child - 1st March - 30th November
£7 Adult/£3 Child - 1st December - 28th February
2. Victoria Park, Bath
Just a short stroll from Bath's city centre (and from anywhere to be honest) is a vast oasis of nature filled with mature deciduous trees, botanical garden and plenty of open parkland. The colours; yellow and orange are the order of the day here - reflected in the tree canopy of some pretty impressive Plane, Sycamore and Beech trees.
This Green Flag awarded park has been attracting visitors since it's opening in 1830 and acts as a breathing space from the bustle of the city. From the city centre it is possible to follow an elliptical route through the park taking in the impressive stone obelisk monument, duck ponds and network of paths before ending up at the Royal Crescent, which is beautifully framed by golden Beech trees.
Top Tip: Arrive at dawn or dusk when the temperatures are cooler to experience the crunch of leaves underfoot and the golden sun streaming through misty tree branches above, perfect for photography!
3. Kennet & Avon Canal, Bathampton
For a walk full of atmosphere the Kennet and Avon canal can't be beaten - in fact, any section of it's 87 mile route is stunning at this time of year. Though, for scenery, architecture and late season ambiance the section between Bathampton and Sydney Gardens is golden. The most satisfying aspect of a stroll along this tow path is the ability to walk from quaint village hamlet, through isolated pockets of nature onto great spectacular vistas of the approaching city of Bath.
Top Tip: Being so close to water means early morning mist, which dances along the surface of the water. Arrive as the light levels increase revealing a magical scene. A perfect start to your day before finding a coffee shop.
4. Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
One of the last remaining ancient woodlands in England, the Forest of Dean boasts an incredibly diverse species list of trees. From ancient deciduous broadleaves to evergreen plantations the sheer number of trees is overwhelming. Pick any location in the 42 square miles of woodland I can assure you'll be amazed by the range of colours dancing on your eyeballs. The deep greens of pine and conifers mingle with beautiful golden tones of oak trees, clinging to steep hillsides and falling away into deep valleys.
Top Tip: It may take a little more effort to travel to the Forest of Dean, but you'll be so glad you did. Perfectly placed in West Gloucestershire means after you've made the journey you can continue to explore many other local picturesque wooded sites this autumn.
(Such as Symonds Yat - see no.5 below)
How to get there: Anywhere in the Forest of Dean is stunning to explore with many car parks being free of charge. But to be perfectly placed to explore the stunning Sculpture Trail and surrounding landscape travel the B4226 to Beechenhurst car park at postcode: GL16 7EH
Here you'll discover the trail, cafe, climbing tower, play area and more!
Parking costs: £3 - £5 Peak / £2 - £4 Off Peak
5. Symonds Yat (and the Wye Valley)
If you've been amazed by the Forest of Dean and are in need or another boost of colour then head to Symonds Yat - In fact, you'll be crazy not to if you've already made the journey to this part of Gloucestershire. Set in the jaw-droppingly beautiful Wye Valley the natural scenery appears to have been created solely for this time of year.
Set high up at 500 metres above the River Wye on a rocky outcrop is the perfect vantage point to almost feel the warm range of colours emanating from the wooded hills below.
From here a number of walking routes take you deeper into the stunning woodlands down to the river side at the small hamlet of Symonds Yat.
Top Tip: Bring change for the car park (closest and easiest place to start) but dont forget extra coins to enjoy a cup of coffee and cake from the well-stocked cafe en-route!
Parking costs: £3 - £5 peak (weekends + bank holidays) / £2 - £4 off peak (Mon - Fri)
6. Shearwater Lake, Longleat Estate, Wiltshire
Situtated in the beautiful county of Wiltshire and close to one of the country's most famous safari parks Longleat. Shearwater is a pure joy to visit when the leaves are at their autumnal best.
It could be the calm fishing and boating lake that reflects the surrounding trees like a mirror, or, perhaps the easy walking access surrounding the lake that makes this the perfect seasonal escape. Either way, a late afternoon spent here in will instill calm and contemplation whilst soaking up a beautiful leafy landscape.
Top Tip: Extend your visit by venturing into the surrounding forest via well marked network of paths or better still, book a stay at the neighbouring Center Parcs resort to explore the area in more detail.
How to get there: Take the A36 south from Bath to postcode: BA12 8AE into Wiltshire.
Ample parking that operates under an honesty box scheme.
7. Greyfield Woods
Greyfield Wood has a long history as part of the Earl of Warwick's hunting grounds and later, surface level coal mining where evidence of the activity can still be seen through the undergrowth. Now it's a popular walking location full of wildlife, beautiful ancient trees, mysterious conifer plantations and even a secret waterfall! Well, not so secret, you'll hear the cascading water long before you see it.
A series of well trodden routes criss-cross the woods leading through epic stands of trees, including sweet chestnuts that beam in the golden light during autumn. Each route eventually leads down the wooded slopes to the valley floor which opens out onto a lush green meadow field, tranquil in it's setting flanked by woods on every side.
Top tip: To see the delightful waterfall in full flow, aim to visit after a period of heavy rain and don't forget those wellies!
How to get there: Located some 10 miles west of Bath near the small village of High Littleton (postcode: BS39 6YE) There's a small car park for up to 5 cars.
8. Browns Folly Woods (and surrounding countryside)
The next location is a double gift - as the woodlands themselves at Browns Folly are enchanting and immense, but also, the surrounding countryside is well worth exploring to appreciate vast swathes of farmland which glow with autumn colours.
This popular wood is a short journey out of Bath and offers some of the best views of the city below. Each route from the car park takes you along the spine of the steep hillsides and glimpse into the past where signs of open quarrying and stone mines can be discovered en-route.
Ancient trees and more recent plantations group together in an epic show of colour with Beech trees taking centre stage, full of burnt orange hues, yellow and russet brown.
Top Tip: Pack a picnic and if the weather's kind stop a while at the plateau area to soak up the view - See if you can find the mysterious folly tower hidden in the trees too!
How to get there: Located high above village of Bathford at the top of a steep lane at postcode BA15 2QP. A small car park managed by Avon Wildlife Trust holds around 10 cars and is very popular at weekends.
9.Beacon Hill Woods
On a ridge at the edge of the Mendip Hills is a mysterious place steeped in ancient history - The woodland at Beacon Hill shroud a fascinating series of Bronze Age burial mounds, Roman features and old quarrying remains. It's a tiny woodland but packs a punch with the archaeological features contained within. Visiting here in autumn casts the earth works in a rich yellow light as the trees reveal their golden colours and a walk here, stomping through the fallen leaves and puddles is a rewarding experience for all the family - and pet dog if you have one!
Top Tip: Try to find the ancient burial mounds and seek out the mysterious standing stone hidden at the heart of the woodland.
How to get there: Located near Shepton Mallet - the wood is a little tricky to find:
Take the A36 from Bath turning right to Corston at the Globe roundaboat.
Follow the A39 through Farmborough and High Littleton.
Take the A37 left to Farrington Gurney and then the left turn along the Old Frome Road, near Oakhill village.
A small lay-by for around 3 cars is on the edge of the road.
10. The Holburne Museum & Sydney Gardens
The beauty of Bath's architecture is enhanced by the surrounding natural landscape, in particular the southern side of the city boasts hundreds of mature veteran trees in hedegrows and gardens. Autumn comes to this part of the city with a bang, and the parks dazzle your eyes with colour, like a giant, slow motion firework display.
The Holburne Museum is a magical place to discover in this season, flanked by huge broad-leaved trees on the front lawn, it is an impressive sight that is only the entree to the main course to be discovered beyond the rear of the museum.
Take a stroll past the beautiful grade I listed building into the stunning, tranquility of Sydney Gardens, hidden from view but full of autumnal intrigue.
The park is the last remaining 18th century pleasure gardens in the country, full of features such as a grotto, maze and also bisected by the Great Western Railway and perfectly picturesque Kennet and Avon canal.
Top Tip: Arrive at dusk when the light filters through the colourful leaves to see the trees at their best, you could even take a detour onto the canal to walk the beautiful route along the towpath to Bathampton for even more autumnal colour.
How to get there: The Holburne Museum and Sydney Gardens are situated on the eastern side of the city - a short stroll from the centre along Great Pulteney Street.
11. BONUS LOCATION - The Botanical Gardens
Just a short detour from the city centre and nestled in the corner of Victoria Park is a pocket of nature which holds the most incredible flora that beams with colour at this time of year.
The Botanical Gardens could be easily missed as the perfect camouflage exterior is not so obvious as to what is happening inside - it's a riot of tones, incredible diverse trees and shrubs, fantastic flower borders and squirrels, hundreds of them! Keen to feed from your hand.
Stretching to 9 acres the sheer amount of diverse plants and trees squeezed into this hidden gem is awe inspiring. Originally planted in 1887, many of the ancient trees are at their prime and form the aerial canopy above as you walk beneath through winding paths and interconnecting gardens. At it's heart is a rock pool, summer house and benched seating areas nestled under low hanging maple trees. It's a perfect peaceful distraction from the hum of the city nearby.
Top Tip: Whilst the weather is still kind you'll have the opportunity to see hot air balloons set up and take off from the park, soaring over the city. Bring a blanket, picnic and maybe some bubbly to watch the spectacle on a sunny autumn evening.
Just over the lane is the hidden Great Dell, a former quarry now planted with an impressive range of evergreens - this more shady affair is an intriguing woodland stroll that takes you over bridges and along an aerial walkway past giant stone sculptures.
How to get there: Take the Royal Avenue route through the park past the Royal Crescent and Monolith to reach the Botanic Gardens, which are nestled in the far right corner of the open parkland at Victoria Park.
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