With mixed weather over the last few months, we’ve all been eagerly waiting for the annual show of autumn colour, but it’s finally here and a kaleidoscope of rich browns, golden yellows, vibrant reds, and vivid oranges can be found in gardens, woodlands, and parklands across Wales.
Now is the time to see the country in its full autumn glory so dig out your knitwear, pull on your walking boots, and feel the crunch of leaves underfoot as you take a walk through an incredibly vibrant landscape at one of National Trust Cymru’s top spots to soak up the autumn colour.
Bodnant Garden, Conwy
Bodnant Garden is awash crimsons, ambers and golds in autumn as glowing leaves, ripening berries, and late flowering plants put on a show of colour that rivals even the brightest colours of summer.
The 80-acres of this worldclass garden are home to a vast collection of native and exotic trees that span several centuries. From the stately chestnuts, beeches, and oaks in the Old Park, and towering American conifers in the Victorian pinetum, to beautiful ornamental cherries and other Asian species in the Acer Glade, there are plenty of species to discover in a kaleidoscope of autumn colours.
As you wander, breathe in the sugary fragrance of Katusra trees, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, that fills the air and look out for around 40 Champion trees (identify them by looking for their blue labels) in their autumn finery – they’re the biggest or rarest examples of their kind in the UK.
Chirk Castle, Wrexham
The Chirk Castle estate with its 480-acres of woodland, meadow, and tenanted grassland dazzles in autumn when ancient trees light up the landscape in a vibrant show of reds, yellows, burnt oranges, and golds.
Follow the Woodland Walk for a chance to see the majestic 500-year-old sweet chestnut in rich golden yellows, or on a clear day, try the Old Golf Walk for spectacular views towards the Forest of Bowland 70 miles to the north, and the Peak District 65 miles to the East.
Autumn is also the best time to go in search of fungi here too as they are easiest to spot in these moist conditions when they can feed and grow. Don’t miss the colourful grassland fungi, particularly Waxcaps, which form part of Chirk’s SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) accreditation.
Erddig’s Yorke family did not want to hide their beautiful estate away, understanding the value of nature to the health and wellbeing of their local community, and for over 300 years visitors have been welcome to explore this special place on the outskirts of Wrexham.
Take an autumn stroll around the 18th-century garden and marvel at the impressive pleached lime avenues that sit either side of the lawn. In early spring each of these 168 trees are clipped by hand, a gruelling task which is estimated to take 10 weeks and a total of 65,000 snips. However, the hard work undoubtedly pays off as the trees provide a show-stopping glowing display of deep yellow, long into the autumn months.
For a longer walk, head out to explore the 1200-acre estate with its charming Cup and Saucer waterfall and soak up the dazzling show of autumn colour created by its historic old trees, some of of which are home-grown and others of which are from overseas introduced in the 1800s when the park was landscaped.
Plas Newydd, Anglesey
Nestled on the shores of the Menai Strait, Plas Newydd’s beautiful setting is hard to beat, and with 150-acres of garden, woodland and parkland to explore, it’s a great place for an autumn stroll.
In October 2008 six red squirrels were brought to this remarkable place, where they were held in large woodland enclosures for a few weeks before being released into the deciduous woodland where they bred successfully. Today there is a population of more than 100 of them and with fewer leaves on the trees, autumn is one of the best times to spot them as they busily prepare for winter.
Elsewhere in the garden, explore the fragrant Australasian arboretum where the dark canopy of Chilean beeches contrasts with the airy and aromatic eucalyptus, discover ever changing autumn colours as you look out across the Strait to Eryri (Snowdonia), or visit the two bird hides where you can spot seasonal visitors to both the woodland and the shoreline.
Aberglaslyn, Llyn Dinas and Cwm Bychan walk, Eryri (Snowdonia)
If you’re looking for a more challenging walk as you soak up some seasonal autumn colour, then this spectacular 5.7 mile circular route is just the thing.
Starting at National Trust Cymru’s car park, Nantmor, follow the exhilarating Fisherman’s Path alongside the Aberglaslyn gorge and see the River Glaslyn lined with avenues of golden trees, a sign that autumn has truly arrived.
As you continue along the route don’t miss grave of Gelert, the famous hound of Welsh legend that gave Beddgelert its name, and the tranquil lake of Llyn Dinas which on a calm day beautifully reflects the landscape in it’s mirror-like waters.
Finish the trail off by heading up to Cwm Bychan where remains of aerial ropeways reflect the area’s industrial past with stunning autumnal views across Eifionydd.
Nested in the heart of Ceredigion, in the wooded Aeron valley, Llanerchaeron is a Welsh country estate that has remained remarkably unchanged for over 200 years. With a Georgian Villa, a traditional farmyard, a walled garden, and a lake, there’s plenty to explore.
Find a quiet place to sit in nature and enjoy the spectacular display of colour in the woodlands as the leaves turn fiery red, mellow ochre and rich bronze. You may spot a wide array of wildlife preparing for winter too – from birds and bats to otters and smaller mammals, this tranquil place is home to a wide range of creatures.
Autumn is also the time when waxcaps start fruiting and glowing gems of crimson, saffron, white and emerald appear on the lawns. Traditional, low-level farming at this Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) has allowed this rare fungus to thrive and more than 25 species can now be found here.
Powis Castle and Garden, Welshpool
As the cooler air arrives, Powis Castle’s Baroque garden comes alive in a dazzling array of reds, yellows, burnt oranges and golds.
Explore the borders of the Italianate Terraces which are brimming with penstemons, purple beautyberries, sedums, asters and deep blue aconites, then listen to the sound of leaves crunching beneath your feet in the Wilderness, the formal woodland, which boasts numerous Champion trees.
From here, look across the Great Lawn to appreciate the iconic view of the 13th century medieval fortress which is made even more spectacular by the glowing autumn show of dogwoods, smokebushes, maples and acers which tumble down the slope below it.
Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokshire
Once an industrial coalfield, today this peaceful valley and 19th-century estate is home to an 8-acre woodland garden that has masses of vibrant autumn colour to discover.
Pull on your walking boots and meander along winding garden paths as you look for different varieties of colourful fungi, watch birds and other wildlife preparing for winter, or relax and enjoy a moment of tranquillity in the sky gazing glade.
Elsewhere, enjoy the Japanese Maples, Liquidambar and the extraordinary golden Ginko tree near the stream in the meadow, visit the small orchard, or kick through fallen leaves as you watch dappled sunlight steaming through the golden canopy of the native trees around you.
A magical land of power and influence for more than 2,000 years and home to the descendants of Lord Rhys, the powerful Prince of the Welsh Kingdom of the Deheubarth, Dinefwr is an iconic place in the history of Wales.
In autumn, the 18th-century parkland explodes into a riot of colour when its veteran trees display an impressive crown of gold, red and orange leaves. The most remarkable perhaps is the ancient Castle Oak which would have been just a sapling when Dinefwr Castle was built more than 800 years ago.
Wrap up warm and enjoy a walk designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown when he visited Dinefwr in 1775. On this route you’ll see some of oldest trees in Wales framing stunning views of Newton House and discover an amazing variety of plants and insects, and spot ravens and red kites which nest in the trees around you.
Dyffryn Gardens, Cardiff
Dyffryn Gardens covers more than 55-acres on the outskirts of Cardiff, and with so many autumn wows to discover it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
See the Arboretum transition into a rich rainbow of warming colours and stop to collect conkers and pinecones as you go. Move slowly and you‘ll find a vast array of fungi hiding in the undergrowth, whilst showy waxcaps shine like glistening jewels on the lawns in a wide variety of shapes, colours and types too.
As you explore, look out for migratory birds like Mistle Thrushes, Fieldfares and the occasional Waxwing as they stock up on nutrients before making their journey onwards to warmer climates, and be sure to stop and admire the acers that put on a dazzling show of rich reds and golden yellows.
Tredegar House, Newport
Tredegar House is one of the architectural wonders of Wales and one of the most significant late 17th-century houses in the whole of the British Isles. Situated within 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland there’s plenty to explore all autumn long.
See a tide of colour sweep across the parkland as ancient sweet chestnuts and majestic oak trees burst into rich golds and vibrant oranges, and at Home Farm, Boston ivy creates a fiery spectacle as it creeps across the historic walls.
Don’t miss a visit to the garden where you’ll find a strange and wonderful autumnal world at your feet. Move slowly and tread lightly and you’re sure to find fungi in endless sizes and colours, that look as though they’re taken straight from the pages of a fairy tale.