Go for gold: Autumn walks
Crisp sunny days and 50 shades of Autumn colour. Here are five of the best places in Somerset & Dorset and beyond to kick up the leaves - with pitstops.
Forde Abbey, near Chard
The gardens and grounds of the former Cistercian Abbey are spectacular at this time of year: golden, moody and sooo Instagrammable.
Walk: Around the grounds. Look out for the glorious maples Acer rubric ‘October Glory’, an impressive tulip tree that turns a yellow gold, the burnt orange leaves of the turkey oak and an avenue of lime trees that turn pale yellow-green.
PItstop: Hop in the car and whizz over to The Cotley Inn in Wambrook, originally a farmhouse dating back to the 17th century and now the village pub, all cosy inside and with a menu celebrating the land and the ‘farm to fork’ ethos, with seasonal, super locally sourced grub.
Reds and golds are bustin’ out all over at the world famous landscape garden at Stourhead, created by Capability Brown, with its magnificent lake reflecting classical temples, grottoes and rare and exotic trees.
Walk: A footpath takes you all around the lake in a leisurely hour or so, allowing for time to peer into the fistful of follies and take lots of pix en route.
Pitstop: Lunch in the estate’s former coaching inn, the Spread Eagle Inn (aka The Spread) or a panini from the Ice Cream Parlour, both of which are located in a large courtyard with tables, enclosed by crenellated ex-stables.
Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne
The gardens and grounds of the Italianate mansion are bursting with colour now, especially in the Japanese Garden, where there are over 40 varieties of acer and 180 trees in the Acer Glade, and along the network of beech droves.
Walk: Stroll around the beech avenue and droves in about an hour and half. For total tranquility, head over to the Silent Space in the Acer Glade, set back from the main Japanese Garden, where intense red and orange leaves glow amongst the winding paths and granite lanterns.
Pitstop: Head back into Wimborne to the ancient The White Hart, former stables, cells, abattoir (but don’t let that put you off) for lunch.
There are some spectacular trees in the grounds of Victorian Gothic Revival house Tyntesfield, overlooking the Yeo valley just outside Bristol. The maples, Chinese rowan and Japanese zelkova all turn to reds and golds in Autumn. Even the house itself gets in on the show.
Walk: Four circular Golden Trees walks will take you around the best places to see the estate’s Autumn colour.
Pitstop: Afternoon tea at beautiful Georgian country house hotel Backwell House in nearby Backwell (Mon to Sun 3pm-5pm).
Sherborne Castle, Sherborne
Paths and trails around 42 acres of spectacular grounds at Sherborne Castle, the house built by Sir Walter Raleigh (whom we have to thank for chips and fags) in 1594, including a Grade 1 listed landscape garden designed by Capability Brown. The reflections of the autumnal trees on the lake are simply stunning.
Walk: There are two walks, each of around 45-50 mins, which can be combined to take in the whole garden if you fancy.
Pipstop: Menu du Jour (£30 for 3 courses’ £25 for 2) or lighter lunch or at the Seasons restaurant at Georgian townhouse hotel The Eastbury Hotel & Spa in the centre of town.