Venturing out for an autumn walk is a real treat for all the family. Enjoy the rich golden colours, kicking through crisp leaves and the sights, sounds and scents of a season of change. As you have fun exploring your favourite forest or woodland, keep your eyes and ears open for wildlife and the signs that animals are preparing for the autumn and winter.
The summer was a challenging one for wildlife with drought, heat and wildfire all putting forests, woodlands and wildlife under pressure.
Andrew Stringer, Head of Ecology for Forestry England, explains one way this has affected our autumn season;
“Nuts and berries are a vital food source at this time of year for many woodland animals, including dormice, hedgehogs, pine martens and many different birds. Normally the hedgerows and trees would be laden. But there are some signs that the scorching temperatures and prolonged dry weather has had an effect, with some fruits ripening earlier and not as plentiful.
“We support wildlife in the nation’s forests by creating habitats for a wide range of plants and animals to flourish. These important connected spaces will give much loved and lesser-known wildlife the best chance to not only survive but thrive in the changing climate conditions we are experiencing.
“Autumn is a very dynamic time for wildlife so keep your eyes and ears open for some of the wonderful shows nature offers. They include deer rutting – locking antlers in a fight for dominance, the swirling displays of starlings in a ‘murmuration’ at dusk, and the flitting of jays above the trees with a beak full of acorns ready to bury as a winter food store.”
You can follow the changing colours of autumn across the nation’s forests by checking out Forestry England’s countrywide map – a window on the beautiful reds, russets and golds spreading across forests and woodlands.
Dalby Forest, Yorkshire
Home to over 8,500 acres of breath-taking views, endless walking, running and cycle trails at Dalby Forest. A visit to Dalby will uncover some wonderful trails and endless stunning views. Keep your eyes peeled along the way for our unique sculptures which are dotted throughout the forest.
Dalby Forest is home to an abundance of internationally important wildlife species and is also a designated Dark Sky Discovery Site, where you can experience the magic of seeing the Milky Way with the naked eye.
Top tip: Keep your eyes peeled along the way for our unique sculptures which are dotted throughout the forest.
Hamsterley Forest, County Durham
This delightful 2,000-hectare oasis, sprawling along the sides of a sheltered valley, is a lovely place to visit in autumn. You’ll be met with beautiful colour from the moment you arrive along the drive. Make sure to walk the Bedburn Valley trail to soak up the rich red and gold hues of the ancient oak trees.
Top tip: Remember to pack your reusable cup for a stop at the Forest Cafe. What’s an autumn walk without hot chocolate?
Holystone Wood, Northumberland
With tranquil waterfalls, dramatic crags, and an abundance of autumn colour; this corner of the Forests of Rothbury is well worth a visit. Once the site of a twelfth-century nunnery, Holystone’s beautiful broadleaf woodland is incredibly peaceful and perfect for a spot of forest bathing or wildlife watching.
Top tip: The Lady’s Well walk will lead you to a historic National Trust landmark where St Paulinus supposedly baptised 3,000 Northumbrians during Easter week, AD 627.