October brings the start of autumn but with it comes fantasic colour as nature winds down for winter. Here are some suggestions for the best places to explore and enjoy everything the season has to offer.
Take a short trek through Lotherton Hall’s Captain Wood Walk and see an abundance of autumn foliage. Visit the hazel and ash coppice groups and see the ancient craft of coppicing. Autumn is a great time to visit the orchard which was planted in partnership with the Northern Fruit Group and contains more than 200 trees, including some older varieties. Beyond the eight acres of more formal gardens walk along the perimeter fence to watch red deer grazing or take a longer amble on the Coburnhill Wood Walk.
Thorpe Perrow Arboretum
Home to some of the rarest trees and shrubs in England, in 2004, 67 trees within Thorpe Perrow Arboretum were recorded and designated as Champion Trees by The Tree Register of the British Isles.
Autumn naturally brings stunning colours to the grassy walkways. Visitors can take part in tree trails, a nature trail and a children’s trail, enjoy the large lake, picnic area and children’s play area as well as visiting some of the wilder grassy areas only mown once a year to provide an ideal habitat for wild flowers, fungi and insects.
There are more than 100 acres of garden to explore at Harewood House, with the Lakeside Gardens particularly beautiful in autumn when the changing leaf colours can be seen reflected in the lake. Paths from this lead to the Himalayan Garden which is home to the Harewood Stupa, a Buddhist monument built by monks from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and the only one of its kind in the UK. And the Walled Garden which is reached over a wooden bridge offering spectacular views of the water cascading from the lake.harewood.org
One of the biggest city parks in Europe, Roundhay has parkland, lakes, woodland and gardens to explore in its 700 acres. There are a number of walks to suit every age and ability with a number of tarmac paths through the park. Autumn colour can be found in the many different gardens including the Leeds City Council Chelsea Flower Show gardens which have a permanent home in the park. Roundhay Park lake is also a great place to see wild birds such as gulls, geese, Mute Swans, Whooper Swans and Herons.
The large stands of beech dotted through the valley of Hardcastle Crags are at their most spectacular during this time of year and it is well worth the journey to see them. Along with streams, waterfalls and stacks of millstone grit, Hardcastle Crags is also home to the northern hairy wood ant and their giant nests made of pine needles can easily be spotted along the 15 miles of footpaths.
In the middle of the Crags is Gibson Mill, a family-oriented visitor centre, which is also the National Trust’s flagship sustainable building.
The 18th century landscape at Temple Newsam has open grassland, woodlands and intimate formal gardens. See the changing colours of the season in the views and vistas originally designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, arguably one of England’s best garden architects. Take a walk down to the three lakes, more correctly known as Menagerie Ponds and from there visit the Walled Garden which is now home to five of the 11 National Collections held by Leeds City Council. Part of this garden’s history includes a shortlived zoo.