5 of the best autumn walks in Bristol & Bath - with a FREE downloadable walk
Looking for the best autumn walks in the Bristol & Bath area? You're in the right place, because here we’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite routes - walks chosen specifically to make the most of beautiful colours, ramble-friendly temperatures and quiet paths...
All of these walks originally appeared in our popular title, Bristol & Bath Year Round Walks book. The first walk you come to below (at Westonbirt), appears exactly as it does in the book, complete with map, pictures and step-by-step directions.
📥 You can even click here to download a PDF version, which you can print or take with you on your phone.
Below that are a number of further recommendations for places to get out for a walk in Bristol & Bath this autumn.
Westonbirt (5 miles)
The trees of Westonbirt Arboretum present a spectacular colour show in autumn, with leaves that have been green all summer turning to brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red.
Away from the Arboretum, this walk explores the undulating Cotswold plateau starting at Leighterton, a handsome village of stone cottages, quiet lanes and a pretty church just a few miles north of Bath.
- Getting there & parking: Follow the A46 north from Bath to Old Sodbury. Continue following the A46 for another 8 miles before taking the second of two right turns signposted to Leighterton. At a junction by the Royal Oak, turn right and drive down ‘The Street’. Having passed the church, park on the roadside by a telephone box.
- Sat Nav: GL8 8UN
1. With your back to the telephone box, follow The Street to the left. At a junction by a pond, keep on the road ahead signposted to Didmarton. In ¾ mile, having passed the entrance to Park Wood Farm, continue uphill for 100 metres before turning left onto a restricted byway. Follow this byway for ¼ mile to a lane and turn right. In 250 metres, with a restricted byway on the right, turn left onto a driveway. The walk all the while is crossing the undulating Cotswold plateau, a pleasant pastoral landscape.
2. In a few steps, turn right to a handgate and cross the field ahead to a gate on the far side of the field. Follow the left edges of the next four fields and, on entering a fifth field, turn left through a gateway to enter Westonbirt Arboretum. Follow the main track ahead for ¾mile to a T-junction. Keep ahead, following a grassy path uphill to a gate at the edge of the Arboretum. Follow the bridleway ahead for 200 metres to its junction with a track in a shallow valley. Turn left along to a gate at the end of some woodland. It is imperative that you stick to the main track through the arboretum – deviate from its course and you could be charged for exploring the woodland on its private paths!
3. Walk ahead to a gate and stile at the end of the first field. Ignoring the gate and the track ahead, cross the stile and enter a hillside field. Bear half-right, walking uphill, to reach a point where a wall forms a corner. Immediately past this corner, turn right and follow the line of the wall down to a stile. Follow the right edge of the next field to a stile and enclosed path. Where the enclosed path ends, cross a stone stile on the right before turning left to walk across a field to a gate and road on the edge of Leighterton. Follow the road ahead, passing a cemetery on the right with a number of war graves, before reaching the Royal Oak in 350 metres. Turn left back to the church and your car.
4 more autumn walks in Bristol & Bath
Monkton Farleigh (4 miles)
This is an autumn walk that has it all – ancient woodland with its colourful hues, opportunities for foraging, views across a mist-shrouded Avon Valley and stories of ghostly apparitions, particularly apt during this season.
The walk starts in Monkton Farleigh, the ‘Monkton’ a reference to the priory founded here in 1125. You can still see the Monks’ Conduit, a small 14th-century building with a steep-pitched roof, standing all on its own in a field.
Ashton Court (2.5 miles)
When the trees change colour from those luscious summer greens to golden autumnal hues, and with a whiff of autumn in the air, where better to walk than through ancient woodland? On Bristol’s doorstep is the Ashton Court Estate, with a deer park whose open spaces stand above Bristol’s picturesque skyline of houses and harbour.
The park is home to the 700-year-old Domesday Oak, chosen as one of the nation’s 50 greatest trees to mark 50 years of the Queen being on the throne. Ashton Court, with its massive 300-foot frontage, is an intriguing blend of styles ranging from Gothic and Jacobean to Tudor. This was home for the Smyth family for over 400 years, with Thomas Smyth, an MP in Stuart times, being one of the last landowners to employ a jester. The family fortunes diminished during the 20th century and, in 1959, the whole estate was purchased by Bristol City Council for use as a public amenity.
Castle Combe & the By Brook Valley (6 miles)
The By Brook Valley offers some delightful ancient woodland, including a fine beech avenue in Parsonage Wood high above Castle Combe itself. Beyond the village there is also Becker’s Wood, with various fungi and mosses as well as nature’s bounty that is ripe for foraging.
The picturesque village of Castle Combe, with its stone cottages, market cross and ancient bridge over the By Brook, is particularly atmospheric during the autumn when the season’s mists mingle with the chimney smoke.
Mendip Heights (4.5 miles)
The Mendip Hills, famous for their limestone cliffs and caverns, reach their high point on Beacon Batch, above Burrington Combe. The geology here is quite fascinating – the original limestone anticline has been eroded on the hilltops exposing the underlying old red sandstone. This makes for a fascinating autumnal walk of great contrasts. On the lower limestone slopes, there is traditional tree cover of ash and oak, sycamore and horse chestnut, with their seasonal hues of yellows, browns and reds. As the walk climbs onto the higher sandstone slopes of Black Down, there is a distinct change in vegetation to bracken and heathers, as well as bilberry plants, where the berries can be foraged in late summer and early autumn.
Just below Beacon Batch are a collection of barrows, whilst beyond the trig point, what appear to be a regimented series of ant hills are a series of mounds designed to make the invading Germans during the Second World War think that this lonely hilltop was in fact a street pattern resembling nearby Bristol.
- Rory Batho