Burnished beauties: our top spots for autumnal colour

    Autumn at Sherborne Castle. Credit: Jayson Hutchins
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    The temperatures may be dropping, but that’s no reason to stay indoors: all over Britain, country parks and estates are now dressed in their autumnal best, so wrap up warm and get outside to enjoy the foliage. We’ve rounded up a few of the best places to see the autumn colours…

    One place that should be on your list is Sherborne Castle. The Tudor mansion was built in 1594 by Elizabethan explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, who loved Sherborne. The castle’s gardens, surrounding the 50-acre lake, were designed by ‘Capability’ Brown and feature sweeping lawns, borders and majestic trees.

    The lake at Sherborne Castle: Jayson Hutchins
    The lake at Sherborne Castle. Credit: Jayson Hutchins

    Walks around the lake cover features such as Raleigh’s Seat, the Cascade and the Folly, with shorter walks leading you to the walled garden, the Ginkgo Lawn and the Orangery next to the boathouse and pier, where there are wonderful views of the Old Castle ruins.

    Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex. Credit: Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
    Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex. Credit: National Trust Images/Nick Dautlich

    Other gardens and estates that look spectacular at this time of year include the National Trust property Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex, where the five linked lakes reflect the vivid autumn colours, including the flaming ochres and scarlets of the Japanese maples, swamp cypresses and birches.

    When Stourhead in Wiltshire first opened in 1740, it was described as ‘a living work of art’ – and autumn is a fine to see it. With a lake 099at its centre, the garden is planned with temples and follies and a planting scheme that allows the colours to sweep through the landscape over an eight-week period. Towards the end of August, the North American maple began to turn a scarlet red, heralding the start of the autumn with the Japanese acers, hornbeam and chestnuts also putting on a dazzling display. The Tulip trees turn yellow, while the oak and beech finish off the season with their bright oranges late in October.

    The Temple of Flora at Stourhead. Credit: National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra
    The Temple of Flora at Stourhead. Credit: National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

    Ashridge Estate covers 2,000 hectares of the Chiltern Hills with beech and oak woodlands, where fallow deer rut in autumn and the beech trees turn a glorious colour.

    The Bridgewater Monument, on the Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire. Credit: National Trust Images
    The Bridgewater Monument, on the Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire. Credit: National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

    Killerton, Devon, is another National Trust property that looks stunning in autumn, although, with rhododendrons, magnolias and rare trees, its gardens are full of colour throughout the year.

    View across the park to the house at Killerton, Devon, in September.
    A view across the park to the house at Killerton, Devon. Credit: National Trust Images/Clive Nichols

    For more autumnal activities and ideas see the National Trust website.

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