Woodland walks may reign supreme when it comes to autumn, but these autumn hill walks make for a refreshing seasonal surprise…
Autumn offers the best of both worlds in the hills. For some, getting the last of the sunshine and squeezing in some summer-like climbs before packing their gear away for the winter makes for the perfect send off. For others, the first scatterings of snow bring the promise of crampons and ice axes ready to make their debut for the foreseeable future. The top ten autumn hill walks we’ve picked this month will help you make the most of the autumn months.
Ben A’an, Stirlingshire
This is a popular hill, perfect for a quick climb on a brisk day and great for chasing views of Loch Katrine surrounded by the turning leaves. Start at the car park by Loch Achray and begin your ascent on the newly rebuilt path. The ‘mini mountain’ rocky summit is a beloved feature and an excellent reward for such an easy climb.
Castle Crag, Cumbria
The smallest fell recorded by Alfred Wainwright, Castle Crag is often overlooked by climbers looking for something special. However, autumn is when this – in the words of Wainwright – ‘aggressively unashamed’ fell really shines. Scattered with trees and providing optimum views of Borrowdale, start at Rosthwaite and head along the Derwent river until you cross at New Bridge to start your climb.
Meall a’ Bhuachaille, Cairngorms
An excellent introduction to the Cairngorms, Meall a’ Bhuachaille is an accessible walk and offers views of the ancient Caledonian pines of Abernethy Forest (and you’ll pass An Lochan Uaine too). The walk starts just past the reindeer centre – well worth a visit when it’s open! – and you’ll be able to spot Loch Morlich from the summit.
Sugar Loaf, Monmouthshire
Surrounded by the wonderful oak woodlands of St. Mary’s Vale, Sugar Loaf makes for one of the most enticing autumn hill walks when you head away from its conventional path to the summit. Start from Fairfield in Abergavenny town and follow the track past Porth-y-Parc farm. Eventually you’ll reach the Sugar Loaf Common, with the conical mountain looming in the distance. Expect views stretching to the Brecon Beacons on a clear day.
Bein Dubh, Stirlingshire
The Trossachs are a wonderful place to experience autumn in Scotland, and this walk provides spectacular views back across Loch Lomond and its scattering of islands, as well as the picturesque village of Luss. Start by parking at the village and heading out to cross the footbridge over the A82 – following the signs for the local faerie trail is the easiest way to find it. You’ll then experience a steep ascent through the woods before the plateau opens up in front of you.
It may be one of the three Yorkshire Peaks, but Ingleborough really stands on its own when it comes to moody autumn hill walks. If you reach the summit before dawn, it’s also the perfect place to catch eerie and rare cloud inversions. For the not so early birds amongst you, the views of the Yorkshire Dales turning in the season is enough of a reason to head out at any time. Tackle this climb from the village of Ingleton, following Fell Lane before arriving at the flat Crina Bottom for a straightforward path to the summit.
Ben Gulabin, Perth and Kinross
This Corbett guards the entry to Glen Shee and offers breathtaking views down the glen. Grouse and red deer populate the mountain so this is an excellent choice for wildlife watchers. To begin your walk, the starting track branches off from the A93 just north of Spittal of Glen Shee. To extend your walk, make sure to explore the Eastern summit too and enjoy views of Mount Blair.
Beinn Eighe, Ross-shire
A less formidable Torridon peak, Beinn Eighe nevertheless offers a stimulating climb with mild scrambling and a steep descent to Coire Mhic Fhearchair. Two of its summits are classed as Munros, the highest being Ruadh-stac Mòr – the ‘red’ in its name most likely doesn’t refer to the spectacular array of autumnal colours you’ll see on your ascent but it feels fitting at this time of year. Start at the Coille na Glas Leitre Trails carpark to begin your climb through the forest.
Pen y Fan and Corn Du – Powys
Pen y Fan and Corn Du come hand-in-hand for walkers, and this walk is considered a little less daunting than others when the weather turns – although of course you should always come prepared. The southern carpark will take you on a path up to Bwlch Duwynt before emerging on the southern slopes of Corn Du. You can expect views of the Neuadd Valley and the reservoirs above Merthyr Tydfil.
Windy Gyle, Northumberland
Some might disagree with this sentiment, but there’s something distinctly autumnal about the Cheviot hills (pictured from Brownhart law) and it feels like this time of year is their busiest. Whether you share that feeling or not, Windy Gyle is a wonderful introduction to those hills, with the fence along its summit ridge marking the border between Scotland and England.
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