By Kieran Hadfield
Want to know where to go walking in Wiltshire this Autumn? There are lots of options to choose from. Autumn in Wiltshire means crisp days, trees blushing red and orange and early-morning mists hanging over the fields. You’ll probably need a raincoat and good walking boots, but don’t let that put you off - this is a spectacular time of year to discover our beautiful countryside.
Spend a day strolling through Wiltshire’s woods and fields, admiring the bright Autumn colours, and then relax into the evening next to the fire in one of our cosy and welcoming pubs. Here are six Autumnal Wiltshire walks to get you started.
Savernake Forest, near Marlborough
Covering a 2,750-acre area near Marlborough, Savernake Forest is a lovely place to explore at any time of year. In the Autumn, the trees show off their colourful finery, inviting you to walk through a magical landscape of red, brown and orange leaves. Even on the greyest of days, the patter of rain amongst the trees creates a soothing and serene atmosphere. There are many tracks and paths to choose from through the forest, so you can adapt this walk to be either a short stroll or a longer exploration.
The Kennet and Avon Canal
An early morning walk along the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal makes for a refreshing and invigorating start to the day. Especially on an Autumnal morning, with mist hanging above the water and mingling with woodsmoke from the moored canal boats. The Kennet and Avon Canal crosses Wiltshire from East to West, offering many opportunities for walking along its length. You could begin at Great Bedwyn and walk a four-hour loop, incorporating Crofton Beam Engines. Or, try the stretch of canal at Caen Hill Locks by Devizes to see the inspired engineering that lifts the canal over a hill. For a very gentle Autumnal stroll, walk the section from Bradford on Avon to the aqueduct at Avoncliff.
The National Trust’s landscape gardens at Stourhead in South Wiltshire are renowned for their spectacular Autumn colours. Every year, the gardens put on a stunning display of colour as the trees are burnished with rusty hues, reflected in the central lake. The National Trust recommend a 5.5 mile Stourhead King Alfred’s Tower walk which takes you through beautiful woodlands to an 18th century folly, with plenty of opportunities to admire the fine Autumnal colours. You will need to book in advance to access the Stourhead estate.
Cotswold Water Park
Serene lakes and woodland shores make Cotswold Water Park a stunning location for a walk throughout the year. In the Autumn, you’re also likely to see lots of wildlife, as many passage birds migrate through the park in the Autumn months. Have a look at the Park’s guide to birds to look out for in the Autumn. There are many lakeside walks to choose from across the 40 square miles of the Cotswold Water Park, and as this is a very flat area many of these walks are ideal for younger children.
The Devenish, near Salisbury
The Devenish is a Wiltshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve near Salisbury, offering incredible views over the Woodford Valley. The trees here are very pretty in the Autumn. You can incorporate the nature reserve into a circular walk to Old Sarum (the site of the original Salisbury Cathedral) which also offers stunning views over the surrounding countryside.
Westonbirt, the National Arboretum
Just over the Wiltshire border in Gloucestershire, Westonbirt Arboretum is an incredible tree garden. This beautiful location blazes with colour every Autumn as the thousands of trees here change to reds and russets, ochres and brown. Looping around the whole of the Arboretum will take you on a walk of about 4 or 5 miles - but there are many paths to choose from to create a walk of the perfect length for you.