Autumn glory - 23 great places to see seasonal colour across East Anglia
- Credit: CHEYANNE LOWTHER
Nature’s beauty is a great comfort in these uncertain times, and, as always, autumn will bring a blaze of colour to East Anglia. Here are 23 places to see the season at its most glorious.
Some areas may be closed due to social distancing requirements. Also, it’s advisable to check social media and websites before visiting an attraction, as places may change their rules or close at short notice.
The National Trust’s site at Dunwich is a great place to go for an autumn walk, taking in woodland and heathland as well as unspoilt beach. A wide variety of wildlife is attracted to the hedgerows, which are laden with berries, acorns and chestnuts. You may also spot some spectacular fungi, including bright red fly agaric toadstools and huge parasol mushrooms. You are also welcome to pick blackberries, but the Trust says on its website: “Remember, if you’re out foraging only take what you need, as nature will enjoy these autumn delights as much as you.”
The car park is open daily, but you need to book in advance via the National Trust website.
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Regular visitor Kaye Nichols said: “I always think Dunwich is beautiful at this time of year. The change in the colours is beautiful!”
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Next to Dunwich Heath, the Minsmere nature reserve is one of the region’s top year-round destinations, with a host of birds visiting over the autumn and winter, including wigeon, snipe, a host of waders and bearded tits. Colourful fungi and berries abound. If you are lucky, you might see an otter near the reedbed pools.
One of Minsmere’s most famous autumn attractions is the red deer rut, which takes place from late September and through October.
Holt Country Park
You can explore 100 acres of mixed woodland in this award-winning Green Flag country park, which has a lot of native broadleaf trees as well as Scots pines. The autumn colours here are amazing. As with other autumn walks, it is worth taking your wellies, because the ground could be muddy.
Christchurch Park, Ipswich
This park in the heart of town boasts more than 4,000 trees, including oaks and sweet chestnuts which are centuries old and some unusual specimen trees in the famous arboretum.
On an autumn wander, you can admire an array of wildlife, including squirrels stocking up on nuts for the winter.
The National Trust has reopened the parkland and gardens at Felbrigg, but you need to pre-book before visiting. The gardens have a wide range of unusual plants to follow through the seasons, while the 380-acre Great Wood includes a wide variety of trees of all ages, from ancient beeches and oaks to sweet chestnut, hawthorn, ash and sycamore trees.
The Lion’s Mouth, Aylmerton
Close to Felbrigg, the “Lion’s Mouth” is one of north Norfolk’s most famous beauty spots, with a spectacular array of beeches.
Its name may have been inspired by the rich colours of its autumn leaves.
Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham
It might be the former home of BBC Springwatch, but this 700-acre reserve also has plenty to watch in autumn. Pre-booking is essential.
The Millennium Garden, which is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, provides a rich spectacle at this time of year. Created by world-famous Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, it features more than 150 species of perennials, shrubs, grasses and climbers.
Broaks Woods, near Gosfield
Danielle Lett writes: “One of my favourite places to go for autumnal walks in East Anglia is Broaks Woods, just outside of Gosfield. It’s an ancient woodland site with a giant redwood grove, which when you go there in autumn, is simply stunning and almost other-worldly. While most people love autumn for the reds, oranges, yellows and browns, I actually discovered bright purple mushrooms last October - which is a hue you wouldn’t typically associate with the season.
“They really stood out to me so I had to get some pictures, and I believe they’re called Amethyst Deceivers. I really hope I catch a glimpse of more purple mushrooms on my rambles this autumn - you truly have to see them to believe them.”
With its parkland and picturesque lake, the “Castle on the Hill” is an atmospheric place to visit at any time of year, but looks particularly splendid viewed through the trees in autumn.
English Heritage has reopened the castle to the public, but you need to book your visit in advance.
Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds
This spacious park is a great place to explore in autumn, with almost 200 acres of landscaped countryside and a lot of colourful mature trees.
The lime avenue is one of the finest in the UK, and the unique arboretum contains trees from around the world such as eucalyptus from Australia, paperbark maple from China and Kentucky coffee trees from North America. Although the park is open, its maze is currently closed.
Blickling Hall, near Aylsham
The house and gardens are now open, as well as the parkland. As with other National Trust properties, it’s essential to book before visiting.
The trust has a special page on its website about places to explore in autumn, with two walks taking in areas where you will spot a lot of colourful trees and foliage. These are the Estate Walk and the Lake Walk, where you will spot brightly coloured trees reflected in the water. The stunning display of colour is expected to last until early November.
Thornham Walks, near Eye
This site in rural north Suffolk is open daily, including woodland to explore as well as parkland and farmland.
The walks stretch over 12 miles and include interesting features As well as colourful trees, you might spot autumn fungi and nuts along the way.
Brandon Country Park and Lynford Arboretum
This 30-acre park, part of the vast Thetford Forest area, includes woodland, parkland and heathland, with several self-guided walks to follow. It is especially attractive at this time of year, when it is full of colour. Nearby Lynford Arboretum is known for its collection of fungi and colourful autumn leaves.
Foxley Wood, near Fakenham
The largest remaining ancient woodland in Norfolk, this area has a huge range of trees, and you can walk across a thick carpet of leaves. It’s a great place to get away from it all and linger in the autumn shade.
Rendlesham Forest, near Woodbridge
If you thought Rendlesham Forest was just a conifer wood, think again. It also has broad-leaved trees and heathland, so there is a range of colours to see. The forest covers 1,500 acres, and has a wide range of facilities for visitors, including trails to follow and picnic areas. Nearby Tunstall Forest is another area worth exploring in autumn.
Honeypot Wood, near Dereham
This small Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve is believed to be a remnant of wild wood dating back to the retreat of the last Ice Age. You may be able to catch a glimpse of roe deer and Green and great spotted woodpeckers here.
Mousehold Heath, Norwich
Just a short distance from Norwich city centre, wander through this natural woodland and heathland. During an autumn stroll you can admire the changing leaves on the mature native trees and the colourful fungi.
Flatford, near Dedham
If you’ve admired the red and gold trees in John Constable’s paintings, you can see them for yourself on an autumn walk through Constable Country. The National Trust car park is open and you do not need to book, but be aware that parking space is limited. Guided tours are not currently being organised.
Thursford Wood, near Fakenham
Some of the oldest oak trees in East Anglia, dating back more than 500 years, are believed to be in this wood. It also has an excellent display of autumnal fungi, including common bracket fungus and jelly ear fungus, as well as ponds and insects.
Beth Chatto Gardens, Elmstead Market, Colchester
The famous gardens created by award-winning plantswoman Beth Chatto have plenty of colourful plants to see during autumn. October is a great month in the water garden, with its grasses and late-flowering perennials, while there are many bright fruits and berries to discover around the gardens all through the season.
You will need to book a visit and arrival slot in advance.
Pretty Corner Woods, near Sheringham
Covering 165 acres, this park has areas of both woodland and heathland habitat, together with grassland and ponds. Some of the oak, beech and sweet chestnut trees you will see here are hundreds of years old. You may be lucky enough to spot a deer during your visit.
Pin Mill Woods, near Ipswich
A walk along this wooded foreshore will take in both trees and heathland colours, together with views of the River Orwell. If you fancy a seasonal ramble, there is a free two-mile nature walk to follow on the National Trust website, starting and finishing from the car park close to the Butt and Oyster pub.
Lackford Lakes, Bury St Edmunds
Open daily, this Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve is a real oasis for nature, with its landscape of lakes, reeds, meadow and woodland.
Gold and red colours mark the coming of autumn with the arrival of a wide range of wildfowl.