Best Autumn Walks Near London and the South West

Best autumn walks near London

28 October 2021

After the heat of summer, as the evenings start to draw in and the days get colder, it’s often tempting to hide indoors and wait for it to come round again! But Autumn is one of the best times of year to get outdoors for a walk. Fresh, crisp air in the mornings, the changing colours, and for little ones there’s a wealth of puddles to jump in!

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered – our network gives you plenty of places to explore, and it’s easy to get there when you take the train. So take a look at our favourites below.

Difficulty guide

  • 1 muddy boot - flat for the most part, with refreshments and comforts available all along the route
  • 2 muddy boots - the odd stile to climb or the occasional hill
  • 3 muddy boots - many stiles, muddy paths and decent hills

Richmond to Hampton Court Station

Ham House
Ham House | Image credit: Dmitry Djouce

Length: 8 miles
Time: 4 hours
Start: Richmond station 
Finish: Hampton Court station
Difficulty rating: 1 muddy boot

This walk, not far from central London, takes you along some of the prettiest parts of the Thames, and especially so in the autumn as the leaves change colour. You’ll also see some of the cultural hotspots of London – from the Crawdaddy Club who boasted the Rolling Stones as a resident Band, to Eel Pie Island who hosted The Who, Rod Steward and Eric Clapton in the 1960s.

This walk takes you through the heart of Richmond, on to Teddington, Kingston and Hampton Court, finishing at Hampton Court Palace itself.

Stourhead, Wiltshire

Stourbridge Lake
Stourhead Lake

Length: 5.5 miles
Time: 2hours
Getting here: Stourhead is 6.5 miles from Gillingham station – or you can catch a bus from Warminster, and walk 1.5 miles from the nearest bus stop at Zeals. Gillingham is just 2 hours from London Waterloo with direct trains every hour.
Difficulty rating: 2 muddy boots

Stourhead itself aside – and the landscape garden, grottoes, classical temple and Palladian mansion make it well worth a visit if you ask us – this walk is a perfect opportunity to sample autumn in full colour. Taking you up to King Alfred’s Tower (a 160ft tall folly at the top of the hill), you’ll find incredible views across the landscape, as well as walks amongst the trees.

Tall Trees Walk, the New Forest

Ornamental Drive in the New Forest
Ornamental Drive, New Forest

Length: 2 miles
Time: 1 hour
Getting here: The route starts at the Blackwater Car Park, 4 miles from Brockenhurst station – and 1 hour 30 minutes from London Waterloo
Difficulty rating: 1 muddy boot

We recommend making this walk part of a larger day exploring the New Forest, using Brockenhurst as your base. You can hire bikes at the station to use all day – but we recommend walking this bit to get the most enjoyment of the changing leaves. You’ll find sensory information boards all along this waymarked walk, telling you what to look out for.

Brownsea Island

Length: 1 mile
Time: 40 minutes
Getting here: It’s a short hop across the water from Poole Quay, which is less than 20 minutes’ walk from Poole station. Trains run regularly from London Waterloo, taking 2 hours 30 minutes to Poole.
Difficulty rating: 1 muddy boot

A short walk, but a rewarding one – you’ll find plenty of things to see here. The bright colours of beech trees and chestnuts mix with the local population of red squirrels and redstarts. The sweeping coastal views at the beginning and end of the walk make it perfect at any time of year.

Team the walk up with a day in Poole to make the most of this great coastal destination.

Ventnor Downs

A view over the Ventnor Downs
View over the Ventnor Downs | Image credit: Andrew Bowden

Length: 4.5 miles
Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Getting here: The route starts in Ventnor – just a bus ride away from our station at Shanklin. You can also join the route at point 5 (St Blasius' Church), which is a short walk from the station, and complete the loop from there. Getting to Ventnor from London takes just 2 hours 50 minutes.
Difficulty rating: 3 muddy boots

For a different view on Autumn we recommend the Ventnor Downs on the south of the Isle of Wight. The reds and yellows of leaves are mixed in with the deep purples and whites of the heather, and the highest point on the Island awaits you at the top of a 260m climb through the Downs

You’ll find plenty of wildlife to spot here too – from Dartford warblers to peregrine falcons, as well as ample bilberry-picking for summer visitors.

If you’re looking for a longer ramble, you can also join the National Trust Trail, starting at the radar station.

Discovery Walk at Haldon Forest

Length: 1.5 miles
Time: 1 hour
Getting here: Haldon Forest is just 15 minutes outside Exeter by taxi.
Difficulty rating: 1 muddy boot

View from Haldon Forest
Views near Haldon Belvedere, Exeter | Credit: Alison Day

This easy walking route, suitable for wheelchairs, prams and youngsters, as well as more experienced walkers, takes you on a journey around Haldon Forest Park and on to some of the panoramic viewpoints looking across the landscape. There are plenty of resting points, as well as lots of fun things to spot for children and some stunning views to enjoy!