The Forest in the ‘Fall’. Leaf watching. When + where…

You don’t need to fly to New Hampshire to see the famous autumn or ‘fall’ foliage. Our wonderful New Forest puts on a great display every year too.

It’s just 2 hours south of London and you can spend the flight price on treating yourself instead!

When the nights turn chilly and we get those big blue sky cold snaps the temptation is to stay in your car and drive about looking for the best view. But we seriously recommend getting your wellies on and getting out into those woods! Misty mornings, the leaf colours, watching the wild life…

Pic by Nick Lucas


The best autumn walks that we love are:

  1. 1. The wild and romantic coastal path route from Tanners Lane beach to Lymington. Great on soft misty days. Listen out for the Lymington-Yarmouth ferry fog-horn, clinking boat masts, migrating coastal bird calls – particularly lovely at dawn and dusk. Make sure you notice the shapes and colours of the ancient trees that hug the seaside colours contrasting with the sea blues.

2. Roydon Woods, where the bluebells are so fabulous in spring. Deep and wild, these woods are particularly soft and lovely. Massive oaks, beeches, ash and birch will welcome you for some peace and quiet. It’s never windy in here so it’s a good spot to go on any day.

3. For a lovely walk amongst the wild animals that live in the park, head off to car parks at: Norleywood, Whitefield Moor, Boldrewood or Wilverly Plain. There’s a good map here on the National Parks website. 


Pic by Annie Spratt

We promise you’ll be rewarded by a far more intimate view of the forest. It’s even better if you don’t keep walking. Rather stop. Sit down somewhere inconspicuous where you blend in. To be rewarded the most, stay quiet so the animals and birds can continue their lives around you. If you fancy being really clever and zen about it all, take some poetry. Our recommendations are:

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I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines – Henry David Thoreau

It has been said that trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far! – John Muir, July 1890

Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing “Embraceable You” in spats – Woody Allen

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For those with kids, (good luck with the quiet bit) but ask them to lie on the leaves and enjoy watching the colours fall around them. Our little ones often try to collect as many different coloured leaves as they can and then let the parents call the winner or, if your kids are really getting into it, take a leaf out of Andy Goldsworthy’s book and make the forest glow.