Autumn is upon us and things are starting to feel somewhat magical: the wildlife is as lively as ever, the skies are glowing a wonderful mix of orange and purple, and the landscapes are alight with fiery, autumnal colours.
October and November’s colour is perhaps the most striking of nature’s seasonal displays and, following a gloriously hot summer, this year we’re set for a dazzling display like never seen before. So what better excuse do you need to get out and take in the intense colour nirvana?
Here are our some of our favourite places to see a stunning autumn vista, courtesy of the National Trust for Scotland…
Pollok House, Glasgow
The historic Pollok House might be most famous for its grand stately home, however the manor also welcomes a fascinating autumnal scene. Being the only country park in the city of Glasgow, the mature woodlands sing vibrant colours of red, gold and amber. You’ll be transported into a fairytale of your own at the sound of the leaves beneath your feet, watching as the sun beams through the gaps in the trees. The grounds certainly accommodate everyone, with a variety of trails for cyclists and walkers alike. You don’t need to stay in the woods to enjoy the golden light of autumn though – pick up a lovely hot drink from the outdoor tea garden to enjoy with a walk along the riverside.
Ben Lomond, Drymen
Ben Lomond has a dignity and magic that for centuries has drawn artists, beauty seekers, hikers and climbers alike. Not only is Ben Lomond one of Scotland’s most southerly munros, but close to 30,000 walkers climb it every year – making it one of the most popular summits in the country. As you climb to the top you will witness a view of Loch Lomond like no other, as the oak woodlands are ablaze with autumnal colours. While the adventurous ones reach the summit, the rest of us can explore the low-level Hidden History Trails and there are leaflets with a variety of quizzes and challenges for younger explorers.
Dollar Glen, Dollar
Deep gorges, rushing burns, and a ruined castle make Dollar Glen the perfect place to escape to for an impressive autumnal view. This stretch of woodland lies east of Stirling and is positioned in the shadow of the Ochil Hills. Usually a sea of green, the landscape will have transformed this month as the leaf colour pigments adapt to the season. Spend the day discovering the ruins of Castle Campbell, watching the eloquently named Burns of Care and Sorrow plunge down tumbling waterfalls and look out for the rich array of wildlife. From foraging brown long-eared bats to great spotted woodpeckers, it’s no wonder the area is known as a site of special scientific interest!
The Hermitage, Dunkeld
Surround yourself in a woodland of blazing colours, made up of the tallest trees in Britain. The Hermitage offers the perfect autumnal walk – leading you on a trail through towering Douglas Firs, all the way to the Black Linn Falls and Ossian’s Cave. Continue along the paths to follow in the footsteps of past notable visitors including Queen Victoria, as you wander through this magnificent landscape. Walking along the River Braan, you might even spot some beavers. Throughout October, you can also watch salmon leaping up the falls as they head to spawning grounds further along the river.
Goatfell, Isle of Arran
Goatfell is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts: walking, climbing, wild swimming, nature-spotting and quiet contemplation in a wild and remote environment are all possible here. A hearty climb into the wilderness, Goatfell is the highest peak on the Isle of Arran, and the perfect viewpoint to gaze across the island and out to sea. Standing above Brodick Castle the mountain hosts a remarkable view of the Isle of Jura and Ben Lomond – on a clear day you can even see as far as Ireland. Red deer are a common sight on the peak and its surrounding hills. In autumn listen for the eerie call of the rutting stags as they contest with other eligible males for hinds. For a lower level walk that also encapsulates the experience of walking in the Scottish Highlands, visitors can enjoy Glen Rosa.
Where history and natural heritage combine. On 27 July 1689 the first shots in the Battle of Killiecrankie were fired – one of the goriest battles in Scottish history. This historical conservation area turns from leaping soldiers to leaping salmon and cleaves a pass where the Highlands meet the Lowlands. Despite not always being a place of tranquillity, the views are breath-taking – a perfect place to contemplate nature and the past and enjoy a fiesta of autumnal colours. The River Garry flows along the floor of a magnificent wooded gorge, where the tree-lined slopes are home to a variety of wildlife, flora and fauna. Look out for unusual fungi – the Pass is a hot spot for rare mushrooms and toadstools and the perfect place to spot lots of wildlife in the area, including red squirrels, woodpeckers and during wet spells, look out for leaping salmon at the falls beneath the Soldier’s Leap.
Balmacara Estate & Woodland Walks, Kyle of Localsh
Balmacara Estate is an outstanding example of a traditional Highland crofting estate.The rocky, moorland-covered hills are interspersed with lochs, woodlands and crofting settlements, with a long and intricate coastline scattered with offshore islands. This diversity means the estate supports a wide variety of wildlife and plants native to the Scottish Highlands including otters, pine martens, red squirrels and the ancient oak woodland of the Coille Mhòr along the banks of Loch Alsh. The landscape can be explored using the road network and the 16 miles of walking paths that weave through the townships, woodlands, across hills and along the coastline, offering spectacular views of the estate and the surrounding Highlands and Islands.
Fyvie Castle, Garden and Estate, Aberdeenshire
Lose yourself in the glory of Fyvie’s landscape and the richness of its past. This magnificent fortress in the heart of Aberdeenshire is a sterling example of Scottish Baronial architecture. In the grounds there’s a pretty walled garden, a picturesque lochside walk and extensive parkland. Enjoy a walk around the estate and see the trees which line the loch and their turning leaves at their best, brightened with an explosion of fiery reds, deep oranges and bright yellows. Fyvie Loch also offers stunning reflections and opportunities for seasonal photos. Also supporting a large number of wildfowls, the resident swans, coots, mallards and moorhens are joined at this time of year by greylag geese, tufted ducks and goldeneyes – you may even be lucky enough to spot the odd ospreys. While you’re there, take a look inside the rooms filled with antiquities, armour and lavish portraits including works by Raeburn, Batoni, Romney, Gainsborough, Opie, Lawrence and Hoppner.
Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire
Stand before one of the largest tower houses in Scotland. With a core that possibly dates back to the 1450s, Castle Fraser is a fabulous place to soak up the atmosphere of old Scotland. The designed landscape you see today at Castle Fraser was established in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Walking the trails in this attractive parkland setting, you can see how the estate’s design combined practical functionality with impressive vistas. Watch the changing colours of the leaves on either of the two brilliant waymarked walks on the estate, offering magnificent views of the local area. Firstly, Miss Bristow’s Wood trail passes through a designed woodland, full of winding paths, pleasant glades and distant views. Secondly, the Alton Brae trail will take you past the broad walk of sycamores, through coniferous woodland and beside the Flight Pond, where you can hear, and sometimes see, a variety of birds, including tree creepers, long-tailed tits and coal tits. If time allows, make sure you see the spectacular panoramic views from the top of the round tower. Revealing the courtyard, gardens and estate beyond, you’ll also be able to see the distinctive peaks of Bennachie in the distance.
The National Trust for Scotland is the charity that celebrates and protects Scotland’s heritage – from coastlines to castles, art to architecture, wildlife to wilderness – and encourages people to connect with the things that make Scotland unique.
Every day, the hundreds of thousands of members, donors, volunteers and staff at the charity help to protect Scotland’s natural and national treasures for us all to enjoy.
By becoming a National Trust for Scotland member you are helping to protect Scotland’s history for future generations and will enjoy a wide range of benefits including unlimited access to its sites and properties, and free parking. To join the charity in what it does for the love of Scotland, click HERE.