The best hikes to explore in the UK this autumn

Hardcastle Crags

Autumn isn’t as well-known as spring and summer for its hike-friendly weather conditions, but it’s certainly a season that should be celebrated in the great outdoors. The beautiful autumnal colours and quieter trails aren’t the only reasons to relish an autumn hike as Hillwalk Tours details:

“The days will gradually get shorter as autumn draws in. This isn’t a cause for concern though. Shorter days mean earlier wildlife activity at dusk, allowing you more of a chance to catch a glimpse while out on the trail. The sun will set earlier and provide renowned autumnal sunsets.”

Whether you want to enjoy those spectacular autumn sunsets, spot wildlife in its natural habitat, or simply admire the kaleidoscope of colours in the falling leaves, there are tons of great places to explore on foot throughout the UK. Here we talk you through the best hikes to enjoy this autumn…

Waterford Heath

Let’s start in our very own county of Hertfordshire. The Waterford Heath loop is a great trail for those looking to keep their autumn hike short and sweet, or those simply getting warmed up!

The 2-mile route offers a fascinating and picturesque walk along the River Beane. You’ll take in a varied scene, with its mix of landscapes ranging from marshland and river paths to deep woodland and wide, open fields.

Throughout the hike, there are some stunning autumn colours to admire, as well as the chance to go off the beaten track to make your hike a little bit longer.

Hardcastle Crags

Now to West Yorkshire and a hiking route known for its riverside views, ancient woodland, deep ravines, and historic scenes. The mill walk at Hardcastle Crags is three miles long and a celebration of the British countryside.

During autumn, its famous mills are made even more mesmerising by the seasonal colours. This route is family- and dog-friendly, with the kids certain to enjoy playing Poohsticks from its many footbridges and hopping across its ancient stepping stones.

Autumn hiking spot

Teign Gorge

The South West of England is famed for its stunning scenery, particularly on the coast, but this autumn hike is located inland in Dartmoor. The Teign Gorge circuit in Exeter, Devon, is a popular walking route amongst hikers and dog walkers.

The route takes you on a manageable 4.1-mile journey from Castle Drogo – which just so happens to be the last castle to be built in England – through the wilds of the Teign Valley and above the Teign River via Hunters Path.

There are some truly breathtaking views to behold all along this historic route and plenty of wildlife to spot.

Nant Gwynant

The lower slopes of Mount Snowdon aren’t often given the credit they deserve, but this area’s troughs are just as beautiful as its peaks. The Nant Gwynant walk in Gwynedd, North Wales, comes alive in autumn with the rich colours of the season transforming the entire valley.

Its oak woodlands are a majestic sight, and so too is its collection of fungi that litters the glades. Keep your eyes peeled for its resident Welsh Mountain goats, these locals move up and down the Nant Gwynant valley in large family groups and they’re the densest population of wild goats in the UK.

Making a mini-break of your time in Snowdon? Discover more Snowdonia National Park walks to get your teeth into.


If you’re looking to see the autumn colours in all their glory the Winkworth to Oakhurst wonder walk is the route for you. The trail starts at the magnificent Winkworth Arboretum, which at this time of year is a festival of colour courtesy of its collection of Norwegian, American and Japanese maples.

The 2.5-mile route then proceeds through Hydon’s Ball and Heath, Octavia Hill Memorial and Lime Kiln before finishing at Oakhurst Cottage, a 16th-century property that’s frozen in time.

Wherever you’re heading for your autumn hike, make sure you have the supplies you need to enjoy every minute by reading our guide to outdoorsy essentials.

Hiking in Winkworth

Images: DMC Photogallery, jennyt, Hannah Denski /