Autumn staycations: Fall at your feet
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So lace up your walking boots and head out to some of the National Trust’s and National Trust for Scotland’s best leaf-peeping locations.
The nearby holiday cottage options, meanwhile, are ideal for inspiring autumnal breaks.
Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk
With its eye-catching autumn foliage and fungi, the Great Wood at Felbrigg is one of Norfolk’s best-kept secrets. Take a stroll down the beech-lined “Victory V” avenues, where towering branches create tunnels of colour.
It’s worth making a detour down the “Lion’s Mouth” too, where the winding lane flanked by trees really does feel like the jaws of a fire-coloured big cat.
Access: Pre-book online. The parkland and gardens are open (garden one-way only). The tea room is selling refreshments.
Stay for longer: Stable Apartment at Felbrigg Hall has parkland views. Sleeps two, from £487 for three nights.
Balmacara Estate, Wester Ross, Scotland
Explore the historic woodland of Coille Mhñr near Balmacara Square which was created by crofters as they grazed their animals in open oak woodland pasture and birchwoods with ravines and mossy archways.
Also take in the routes round the banks of Loch Alsh and through pretty villages and crofting landscapes.
Access: Car parks are open, booking is not required, entry is free. nts.org.uk/visit/places/ balmacara-estate
Stay for longer: Enjoy loch views from Craggan Cottage on the banks of Loch Alsh. Sleeps four, dogs welcome, from £788 per week.
Buckland Abbey, Devon The best autumn displays at the abbey’s historic woodlands can be found on the red and blue walking routes, which both start along the Beech Avenue with its beautiful gold and orange foliage, and views over the Tavy Valley.
Explore the oaks and beeches in Great North Wood too – a brilliant spot for blackberrying in season.
Access: Pre-book online. The garden, estate, restaurant and shop are open, plus the ground and middle floors of the abbey (limited entry).
Stay for longer: Tucked away on the Buckland Abbey estate, Cider Cottage is a cosy retreat after autumn walks along the River Tavy. Sleeps four, plus one dog, from £302 for two nights.
Longshaw, Peak District
Set on the eastern edge of the Peak District, Longshaw offers excellent walking country for those who like a bit of adventure.
Enjoy a colourful stroll among ancient oaks in Padley Wood, meander along historic packhorse routes lined with heather and gorse, or head up on to the rugged moors for views over the Hope Valley. Take binoculars as you might catch sight of majestic red deer in the distance.
Access: Pay and display car parks are open; booking not required. NT members park for free. Refreshments are available from Croft Cabin in Woodcroft car park.
Stay for longer: Enjoy the magic of that autumnal low golden light from White Edge Lodge, with Peak District views. Sleeps five, plus two dogs, from £879 for seven nights.
Carding Mill Valley, Shropshire From heath-covered hills to the valley stream, there’s plenty to enjoy here.
Miles of footpaths and bridleways mean there are walks for everyone, but if you’re after a challenge, a hike to the top of the Long Mynd is certainly worth the effort. You’ll find the colours fading from high summer’s purples and greens to autumn’s rusty reds and browns – all set against views from the plateau.
Access: Car parks are open – booking is not required but spaces are limited. The tea room is open for takeaway refreshments.
Stay for longer: At nearby Dudmaston estate, 1 Sternsmill Cottage, has a garden cave. Sleeps four, plus one dog, from £369 for three nights.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park, Yorkshire The World Heritage Site makes an impressive sight, especially when surrounded by bright reds, oranges and golds from the autumnal foliage. This route will take you through the medieval deer park with its panoramic views, through the sprawling water garden and up the riverside with views of the abbey to finish.
Access: Pre-book. The abbey, garden, play area, visitor centre shop and restaurant are open .
Stay for longer: Abbey Cottage is a former 18th century haybarn and 1930s shop on the estate’s river walk. Sleeps six, plus one dog, from £565 for three nights.
Crom, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Discover a landscape of woodland, islands and historic ruins on the shores of Upper Lough Erne.
Crom is one of the UK’s most important nature reserves, with the largest area of oak woodland in Northern Ireland – perfect for wandering beneath the canopy of russet leaves. You might even spot wading birds, otters and red squirrels.
Access: Book in advance via the website. The grounds and tea room are open.
Stay for longer: A short stroll from Lough Erne, charming Willow Cottage has an open fire. Sleeps three, plus one dog, from £219 for two nights.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent
When Vita Sackville-West designed the garden, she ensured year-round interest with seasonal planting. Her legacy continues with the gardens full of colour right up to the end of autumn. Visitors can also explore the wider estate, where the mixed woodlands create a patchwork of yellow, russet and red.
Access: Pre-book online. The garden, estate, restaurant and takeaway cafe are open. For formal gardens, arrive within your 30-minute time slot at the gate.
Stay for longer: Garden enthusiasts will love Priest’s House on the edge of the estate’s White Garden. Sleeps six, from £714 for three nights.
If you’re a bit short on time, the easy two-mile Albana walk offers plenty of autumn colour, with maples, chestnut, beech and oak trees ranging from bright yellow to deep red at this time of year.
Or head off the beaten track for a longer walk around the estate, taking in the park and woods. The remote areas and ancient woodland provide likely spots for deer sightings.
Access: Pre-booking online is advised. The parkland and gardens are open. Buy refreshments at the outdoor café.
Stay for longer: Horringer Park Gates was once home to the Ickworth estate gatekeeper. Sleeps four, from £331 for three nights.
Plas Newydd, Anglesey
Stroll to the estate’s hidden corners to take in sweeping vistas across the Menai Strait and beyond to Snowdonia. The landscape really comes into its own in autumn, when the woodlands are blazing with colour and the red squirrels are hard at work foraging for nuts.
Access: Book in advance online. The garden, café and shop are open. The house remains closed.
Stay for longer: The quirky period cottage Porthdy Wiwer Goch (formerly Plas Newydd Lodge) sits at the estate entrance by the shores of the Menai Strait. Sleeps five, from £506 for three nights.
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