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The best places to see autumn Cotswold colours

Posted: Tue, 19th Sep 2023
Autumn Walk

For now, the trees are green, and summer is just hanging on. But soon, crisp autumn mornings will arrive in the Cotswolds and the trees will be ablaze with an autumnal palette of reds, oranges and browns. Read on to discover where in the Cotswolds you can discover bright, autumn colours in the countryside.

Dyrham Park

The sumptuous National Trust-owned, 17th-century Dyrham Park house is set in a beautiful, ancient deer park, with acres of parkland, formal gardens and woodland terraces. The gardens have many stunning plants and wildlife, while the house’s interior includes 17th-century paintings and furniture. There is a children’s play area at Old Lodge, providing space for little ones to let off some steam. During autumn, there is a bountiful pear harvest and a beautiful conker carpet that covers the garden floor.

Dog friendly: Assistance dogs only.

Prior Park Landscape Garden

A beautiful 18th-century landscape garden in the city of Bath, created by local entrepreneur Ralph Allen, with advice from Capability Brown and the poet Alexander Pope. It is a place to take a walk and experience the beautiful nature and landscapes that Bath offers. In autumn, the garden becomes incredibly colourful, with berries and fungus adding to the classic colours of the trees. If you’re quick enough, you might even find a few blackberries to taste.

Dog friendly: Yes, on a lead at all times.

Sudeley Castle & Gardens

Rated amongst the top attractions in the Cotswolds, the castle is surrounded by a breath-taking 1,200-acre estate and 10 award-winning gardens. The centrepiece is the Queens’ Garden, so named because four of England’s queens – Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I – once walked upon the original Tudor Parterre. Sudeley typically opens up a dedicated autumn wildlife trail, so you and your family can follow in the footprints of the resident wildlife, from red foxes to hedgehogs and deer.

Dog friendly: No (except registered assistance dogs).

Batsford Arboretum

The 56-acre arboretum at Batsford is situated just one mile west of the historic market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, in the heart of the Cotswolds and is a former home to the famous Mitford family. Follow the woodland trails (there’s a trail especially for children with a prize at the end) through the beautiful estate surrounded by clouds of wildflowers, trees and plants. Batsford is always beautiful, but it really comes into its own during the spectacular autumn months. The maple trees and cherry trees take centre stage during the season, bursting into every hue from hot pinks to golden yellows and fiery reds.

Dog friendly: Yes, on a lead at all times.

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is perhaps one of the most magnificent buildings in the UK. Built between 1705 and 1722, this masterpiece of English Baroque architecture is open to the public to explore. Set in the distinctively landscaped grounds of Capability Brown, Blenheim was most famously the birthplace and home of Sir Winston Churchill. With exhibitions, a shop, a restaurant and seasonal events, Blenheim Palace provides a fascinating and educational day out for all the family. There is an Autumn Fest for everyone to enjoy at Blenheim, including foraging workshops. Enjoy talks and local food and drink as you celebrate everything that is great about autumn.

Dog friendly: Yes, on a lead at all times.

Hidcote Manor Garden

One of the finest Arts and Crafts gardens in the country, the National Trust’s Hidcote was created by American horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston, circa 1905. Divided into a series of garden ‘rooms’, each garden boasts its own character, intertwined with narrow pathways, beautiful views and plants bursting to life at every turn. A must-visit for the green-fingered, especially during autumn when you can smell the sweet scent of the heliotropes and watch the long grasses catch the last of the sunlight.

Dog friendly: Assistance dogs only.

Westonbirt Arboretum

This spectacular 600-acre arboretum offers nature lovers of all ages a memorable day-out destination whatever the weather, but is most well-known for its autumn displays, often being the picture-postcard of British autumn. Filled with over 15,000 trees from around the world, visitors can keep their eyes peeled for specific species using the Arboretum’s Tree Spotter’s Guide, wander amidst the treetops on the award-winning STIHL Treetop Walkway, or head off on one of the guided walks. Visitors in autumn should book tickets early to visit the Acer Glade in the Old Arboretum, and the Maple Loop in Silk Wood – this famous display of autumnal colours is very popular, as this is the arboretum at its finest.

Dog friendly: Yes, although the Old Arboretum is a dog-free area.

Woodchester Park

Woodchester Park is a truly magical valley with a ‘lost landscape’ of historic lakes, ruins and parkland, with a children’s activity trail too. While the trees burst into colour and provide many photo opportunities, it’s their reflections in the lakes that are truly mesmerising. Instead of looking up to the branches, perhaps look down into the water and enjoy a moving picture of reds, blues and the occasional posing duck.

Dog friendly: Yes, on a lead at all times.

Kiftsgate Court Gardens

Found on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment, this family-run garden has been carefully cultivated by three generations. Featuring beautiful, revolving blooms which burst to life throughout the year, visitors can discover the garden’s wild garden, orchard, mound and avenue, plus a fantastic water garden and elegant fountain. In the autumn you will see masses of deep red hips – while they may be considered a nuisance in some gardens, due to how they spread, Kiftsgate has plenty of room for them and they provide a stunning backdrop to the rest of the garden.

Dog friendly: No.

The Bathurst Estate & Cirencester Park

This historic 3,000-acre estate owned by the Bathurst Family boasts a beautiful 19th-century parkland designed by Alexander Pope, which the general public are free to enjoy at their leisure. Accessible via entrance gates on Cecily Hill, little ones will love stretching their legs here, whilst older visitors will enjoy taking in the stunning landscapes. Leaf kicking is a favourite game here with children, with the set paths and open grassland covered in beautiful leaves throughout. So strap on your wellies and enjoy every part of the season!

Dog friendly: Yes, on a lead at all times.

Minchinhampton & Rodborough Common

The commons are known for their wonderful walks, beautiful views and, perhaps, the best sunrises and sunsets that the Cotswolds has to offer. Here you’ll find a huge variety of limestone-loving wildflowers and rare butterflies that can be seen from spring right through to the autumn. Orchids are also prevalent, and the one to look out for is the Autumn Ladies Tresses – once you find one, you’ll suddenly see a lot more, as they tend to grow in groups.

Dog friendly: Yes, on a lead at all times.

Newark Park

Newark Park is a National Trust-owned property at the southern edge of the Cotswold escarpment, looking down into the Ozleworth Valley and onto the Mendips beyond. The estate has several self-guided walks, with carpets of snowdrops, aconites, daffodils and wild garlic all making an impressive seasonal showcase. One of the famous residents is the autumn cyclamen which offers beautiful pink and purple hues. There’s a fabulous nature-based adventure playground, too.

Dog friendly: Yes, on a lead at all times.

Looking for an adventurous way to explore the Cotswold autumn colours? Never fear, there’s always two wheels, four legs or a lot of steam to get you about:

Horse Riding

Cotswold Horse Tours offers tuition, tourist hacks and river rides. Covering all of the Cotswolds and into the Forest of Dean, the team can tailor the ride to suit you, meaning you get the most out of the experience. Perfect for those looking to try something new, or for those with equestrian experience who are looking to explore the area whilst in the saddle!

Cotswold Mountain Biking

Discover the hidden treasures of the real Cotswolds on an exciting day tour with an expert guide on an electric or standard mountain bike. A local guide leads the ride at a pace to suit you and you’ll be able to appreciate the history and autumn colours of the area without worrying about the route.

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR), runs between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway, passing through gorgeous Cotswold countryside and an ideal mode of transport for seeing the autumn colours.

Why not enjoy several beautiful, autumnal Cotswold attractions, and stay for a few days in one of our cosy cottages.

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