Whether you’re a local, a day-tripper or heading to Dorset for a longer break, autumn is a lovely time to enjoy our beautiful county. We’ve put together a list of some of the best places to see the incredible colours of autumn in Dorset. So grab your wellies and a flask of your favourite Dorset tea and get ready to take a stroll through some crunchy autumn leaves!
Set just outside Wimborne Minster, Kingston Lacy is an impressive house and estate owned by the National Trust. The property dates back to 1665 and inside you’ll be able to admire a vast collection of art and Egyptian artefacts. But it’s the formal gardens and 250 acres of parkland that we love. The seven-acre Japanese Garden is a photographer’s dream as it explodes with colour at this time of year. With over 40 different species of Acer, the vibrant reds, golden yellows and warm orange colours create a breathtaking backdrop for an autumnal stroll. And not to be missed is Beech Avenue – the formal two-mile entrance to the estate. Lined with over 650 beech trees the regal driveway glows gold, bronze and scarlet.
…and then onto Badbury Rings
Just one mile on from Kingston Lacy and part of the same estate, you’ll reach the Iron Age Hillfort of Badbury Rings. Sitting 100m above sea level means you get sweeping views out over the Dorset countryside and at this time of year the colours of nature make it a real treat for the eyes. You’ll see mile after mile of beautiful woodland and farmland and even across to the Isle of Wight on a clear day. But it’s not just the views from the top that are worth admiring – on the approach, and from the National Trust car park, you’ll be able to properly take in the sight of the forested crown of the hill offering up more stunning autumn hues.
Bournemouth Upper Gardens
You don’t have to venture far from Dorset’s urban areas to experience autumn at its best and one of our favourite walks is just a stone’s throw from the shops and cafés of Bournemouth town centre. This council owned land is beautifully kept and offers an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of the high street. With its European, Asian and North American themed areas you’ll be able to marvel at an array of tree and plant species. Keep your eyes peeled for what is said to be one of the largest North American Giant Redwoods in the country! It won’t take long to wander down to the lower gardens and if you make a pit stop at Urban Garden you can enjoy their chilled vibes and a nice cup of Dorset Tea. Hmm, an autumn stroll and a cup of Blackberry Syllabub tea, yes please!
As the leaves of the mature oaks, chestnut, hazel and beech trees change colour, this 64-acre woodland located just outside Dorchester is simply stunning at this time of year. Famed for being Thomas Hardy’s birthplace and childhood playground it’s even portrayed in some of his novels and the National Trust owns the thatch cottage just down the road where he once lived. If you’re visiting with children there is a lovely Discovery Trail to follow, encouraging young explorers to collect pinecones, uncover mini beasts and write down their discoveries on dead leaves! This is rural Dorset at its best but you’re not far from Dorchester’s abundance of cafes when you’re ready for a refreshing cup of tea!
Sherborne Castle and Gardens
Built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594 this splendid castle is home to a rich collection of historic furniture and art, but just like Kingston Lacy, it’s the grounds that we love. It was designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, Britain’s most famous landscape garden designer, which explains how it came to be so impressive. It’s amazing to think it has survived largely unaltered! With a large lake set within the 42-acre garden it is quite the place to see the incredible autumn colours reflected in the water. When you visit, there are two suggested walks of just under an hour but you could easily spend a day here wandering the trails and paths and finding a quiet spot to try and imagine some of the past historical events that have taken place here! They are even offering special discounted tickets on the 23rd and 24th October for ‘Autumn Colours Weekend’, put on especially to allow visitors to enjoy the splendour of the gardens at this time of year!
One of the things we love about living in Dorset is our proximity to other parts of the South West and South Coast. We feel incredibly luck to be neighbours with Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire as it means we can enjoy other local beauty spots that are just across the county borders! Blackwater Arboretum just outside Hampshire’s Brockenhurst is one of our many faves. With a variety of trees from all over the world, beautiful seed sculptures and a short sensory trail it’s a popular spot with families and walkers. With a mixture of redwoods, oak, sycamore and Douglas fir trees to name just a few, the colours are magnificent. For more autumn scenes head west to nearby Bolderwood and you’ll almost certainly spot the famous herd of Fallow deer. Be sure to give them plenty of space at this time of year though as deer-rutting season is in full swing (when the stags fight for territory).
One of the other reasons we love visiting the New Forest is for the amount of tearooms and cafes there are! What could be better after a long (or short) walk than heading into one of the charming villages to enjoy scones and tea, yum!
Your own garden
According to the Royal Horticultural Society, ‘a wet summer has left trees ready to produce bright displays this season, assuming we have bright days and chilly nights for a few weeks’. Okay, so maybe those soggy summer days weren’t all for nothing then! If you are lucky enough to have your own garden then why not pop the kettle on and invite a friend round to admire your very own beautiful autumn view. There is nothing quite like a natter with your best pal over a lovely cup of tea!
We’d love to see your favourite spots to enjoy in autumn. You can tweet us @dorset_tea or tag us in your instagram posts or stories @dorsetteauk. Head over to our tea shop now to browse our range of tea and enjoy a cup of Dorset sunshine no matter what the weather.