FORESTS, hills, parks and valleys begin to glow and glow as the trees turn red, gold, orange and yellow.
Fall is definitely here and there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of a leaf spot – the nickname for visiting trees this time of year as they put on a spectacular display.
Trisha Harbord suggests perfect places across the country to spend the day or take a longer break.
TREES AT THE TOP OF THE CLIFFS
A QUART of White Cliffs Country in Kent is an area of ââoutstanding natural beauty, including Kearsney Parks, just two miles from Dover.
The red, orange and yellow hues of beech and lime trees contrast with the evergreen yews. They also border the banks of the Dour River, which crosses the park, and its pleasure lakes are a refuge for wildlife.
Thanks to a Â£ 3million grant from the National Lottery, there is a new children’s playground and cafe.
WHAT ELSE? Make your way to the White Cliffs Visitor Center for superb views of the coast, countryside and medieval Dover Castle, where you can explore an underground hospital and war tunnels.
GO: The new Travelodge Dover offers family rooms from Â£ 47 a night. See travelodge.co.uk for more details.
SEE oak, beech, maple, horse chestnut and more at Unesco World Heritage listed Blenheim Palace, where visitors are given a trail booklet so they know what ‘they’re watching. in 2007 in the film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
WHAT ELSE? Enjoy an audio tour around the magnificent 300-year-old palace, including the chamber where Churchill was born. There are new art and wildlife exhibits as well as mid-way Halloween entertainment in October.
GO: Adult ticket for the Palace, Park and Gardens costs Â£ 29.50, Child Â£ 16.50, children under five free. blenheimpalace.com.
Throw in a Gruffalo or two and the kids will be happy to join you on a leaf-watching trip.
Characters from Julia Donaldson’s popular children’s books are hidden on a Gruffalo Trail among the brightly colored trees of Hamsterley Forest in the Durham Dales.
Hiking, cycling and horse-riding trails are also available, as well as orientation activities and picnic areas. The Bowlees Visitor Center is the perfect base for exploring the area and enjoying walks to the waterfalls, including High Force, which at 70 feet is one of the most spectacular in the country.
WHAT ELSE? Watch deer roam the 200-acre parkland of 14th-century Raby Castle in Staindrop. And visit the Bowes Museum, home to paintings, sculptures, fashion, and more, at Barnard Castle.
GO: The High Force hotel has a special offer until November 28, with B&B for two from Â£ 102. See raby.co.uk.
BARK AND WRINKLE
There is nothing new about the New Forest, teeming with beautiful mature trees.
It is over 900 years old, covers parts of Hampshire and Wiltshire and takes its name from the new hunting ground of William the Conqueror.
Trees include English Oak, Ash, and Beech as well as exotic species such as Japanese Cedar, Wellingtonia, and Chestnut.
Hop on a bike and cycle through the carpet of leaves – there are more off-road cycle routes here than anywhere else in the UK.
WHAT ELSE? Get a different view by canoe or kayak on the Beaulieu River with New Forest Activities (activitiesnewforest.co.uk) and visit the National Automobile Museum in Beaulieu.
GO: The Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst is offering three nights in a B&B for the price of two, starting at Â£ 175 per person. See balmerlawnhotel.com. Or explore the forest in a four-berth motorhome from Â£ 507 for four nights. For more details, see yescapa.co.uk.
RED, orange and yellow trees are reflected in the water at beauty spots across the Lake District, making for a spectacular sight.
Best spots to view the leaves include the National Trust’s Allan Bank and Grasmere Villa – the former home of poet William Wordsworth – which offers fabulous views over the colorful valley.
The forests of Grizedale and Whinlatter are also ideal to explore on foot or by bike.
WHAT ELSE? Motorboats are prohibited, calmer Lake Grasmere is perfect for kayaking. But if you don’t mind cold water, why not try wild swimming? Don’t come home without Grasmere Gingerbread, invented by cook Sarah Nelson in 1854, from the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.
GO: B&B with a double room at the Victorian House Hotel in Grasmere costs from Â£ 110 per night in October. See victorianhousehotel.co.uk.
LOCH AND JUMP
THE Highlands of Scotland have been named by Lonely Planet as one of the best places in the world to view autumn leaves.
Head to the Uath Lochans Trail near Kingussie in the Cairngorms National Park or Loch Arkaig in Lochaber for a dazzling spectacle of fiery color.
Fall is also perfect for viewing wildlife, including red deer and squirrels, eagles and gray seal pups along the Caithness coast.
WHAT ELSE? Gaze at the stars at Tomintoul & Glenlivet Cairngorms Dark Sky Park, the world’s most northerly and UK’s darkest. The new Northern Lights Arts Festival in Wick Harbor will be held October 8-16.
GO: A two night B&B break at the 4H Royal Marine Hotel in Brora, one hour from Inverness, with dinner one evening, starts at Â£ 129 per person. See royalmarinebrora.com.
SWING through and above the colorfully changing trees on the Go Ape course at Delamere Forest in Cheshire.
In addition to the high ropes and the zip line, there are Segway tours through oak, beech, chestnut and pine trees.
The forest is also crisscrossed with hiking and cycling trails.
If you’re feeling energized, climb to the top of Old Pale for fantastic panoramic views, stretching from the Welsh hills to the Peak District.
WHAT ELSE? BeWILDerwood Cheshire Adventure Park is located in the woods near Malpas. And Magical Woodland, a light trail of about 15 acres of colorful forest near Northwich, runs from October 9 to November 7.
GO: Four nights in a two-bedroom Silver Birch Treehouse in Delamere Forest, starting Monday, are priced at Â£ 645 in total. For more details see foretvacances.co.uk.
WATER AND WILDLIFE
THE forests of Northumberland include England’s largest forest park and our darkest skies.
The Kielder Water and Forest Park offers a wide choice of trails, including one along the 42 km shore of the largest man-made lake in Northern Europe.
There are natural centers for viewing wildlife, which may include ospreys. Northumberland Farm is a great base for families, close to the rugged coastline and the village of Seahouses.
WHAT ELSE? Look for the constellations at the Kielder Observatory. Meanwhile, Harry Potter fans should visit Alnwick Castle, which played the role of Hogwarts. Take a boat trip from Seahouses to see seals and birds on the Farne Islands.
GO: Two nights’ self-catering accommodation in a canvas cottage at Northumberland Farm with private bathroom, sleeping six in October, from Â£ 480. See plumeduvet.co.uk.
BEAN HE DOES THIS
THE spectacular Forest of Dean and Wye Valley created the UK’s first leaf viewing guide.
With over 20 million trees, the region of Gloucestershire, of outstanding natural beauty, presents an astonishing palette of autumnal colors.
The guidebook (available at visitdeanwye.co.uk) gives you the top ten spots for leaf viewing, walks, walks and experiences. They include Tintern Abbey and the Kymin, an 18th century round house with views over Monmouthshire.
WHAT ELSE? Wye Adventures (wye adventures. Com) offers activities such as canoeing and gorges scrambling. Take a Dean Forest Railway steam train to see more golden canopies and visit the village of Symonds Yat for valley views.
Private Leaf Viewing Tours with a Blue Badge Tour Guide start at Â£ 125 per person. See britainsbestguides.org.
GO: Sleep among the trees at a glamping cabin for four in Lydney, from Â£ 290 for two nights. See resilientwoodlands.co.uk.
ENJOY a touch of luxury after browsing the fallen leaves with a day of âforest bathingâ.
Wakehurst in East Sussex – a country cousin of Kew Gardens – runs workshops on the Japanese art of Shinrin-yoku. You are taught to relax by connecting with the environment.
Wakehurst, like Kew, becomes a waterfall of color with yellow, red, orange and even purple leaves.
The Forest Bathing Workshops on October 16 and November 13 cost Â£ 22.50 and include entry to the gardens and car park. See kew.org.
WHAT ELSE? Stroll along the new boardwalks above the wetlands near Westwood Lake and get up close to wildlife in the 150-acre Loder Valley Nature Preserve.
GO: Nearby, the Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club, set in 186 acres of parkland, offers a two-night fall retreat with B&B from Â£ 358, two-share basis, until November 30 . See ashdownpark.com.