Autumn in Wiltshire is a special time when the county wears its autumn colours in preparation for Winter. This is a good time for long walks and pub meals.
Wiltshire is more wooded than you would imagine with about eight percent of the county comprising woodland. Perhaps the most well known autumn colour in the county is that of Stourhead Gardens.
With a collection of nearly 1000 species of trees from all over the world the lake and gardens form a blaze of colour at this time of the year. This National Trust Property, close to the Wiltshire-Somerset border in the west of the county, is open to the public seven days a week, summer and winter. During autumn this beauty spot attracts thousands of visitors and with a restaurant, the Spreadeagle Arms pub and restaurant with rooms, farm shop and other attractions makes a lovely day out for all the family. There are many events organised through the season has plenty of parking available but you would be well advised to arrive early at weekends at this very popular time of year.
Another woodland beauty spot which is a little less frenetic in autumn is the ancient Savernake Forest. Dating back to the Norman Conquest this Royal Forest was one of Henry Vlll ‘s favourite hunting grounds.
Although privately owned the forest is open to the public and there are many walks or ‘rides’ to enjoy surrounded by a riot of autumn colour. Close to the Savernake is the medieval town of Marlborough, with its broad street of attractive shops, restaurants and pubs. On the southern flank of the Savernake is the Kennet Avon canal which passes through many small attractive Wiltshire villages and towns, many with pubs and restaurants to enjoy.
In North Wiltshire there is the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserve of Ravensroost , an area of woodland dating back to the early 17th century. Although originally these woods formed part of the huge area known as Braydon Forest much of the forest was cut down by the 17th century and Ravensroost woods is one of the few remaining fragments of this once mighty forest. This small woodland stands about a couple of miles south of the B4040 Cricklade to Malmesbury road.
Two other not so well known woodlands also accessible to the public, located in south Wiltshire.
Grovely woods, 2 miles from Great Wishford in the Wylye valley which lies to the north of Salisbury and Bentley Wood near Winterslow village. Grovely Wood is a privately owned and ancient woodland accessible to the public from Great Wishford village and has an extensive network of permissive paths and bridleways.
The charity owned private nature reserve of Bentley Wood is part of Tytherly woods on the Winterslow to West Dean road. There are access points at the end of Witt Road in Winterslow village, and on the Winterslow to West Dean road, and also on the west side of the wood on the Winterslow to Farley road. There are small parking areas just inside the entrance but vehicle access into the woods is not permitted. There are plenty of tracks and level metalled for walking and cycling in a very tranquil and peaceful setting.
Other Wiltshire in Autumn attractions include Langford Lakes, also a Wiltshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Steeple Langford near Salisbury. Originally gravel pits this comparatively newly developed reserve has in the space of a few short years established itself as one of the leading spots in Wiltshire attracting many species of migrating land and wading birds. Plans are well advanced to develop a further wetland habitat alongside the reserve by flooding recently acquired land adjacent to the River Wylye.
Of course we must mention the popular (not so very new) New Forest which although in the county of Hampshire is but a very short distance from Salisbury and the Wiltshire villages bordering the north of this famous forest.
Lastly, it is not a good idea to take dogs with you when walking these woodlands (The New Forest excepted). Some of them specifically ban dogs and others at best expect you to keep your dog on a short lead. This is because some of these environmentally sensitive areas are home to very rare and threatened species of wildlife which are easily disturbed. No matter how responsible a dog owner you try to be it is impossible to curb your pet’s natural curiosity as dogs (like humans) are after all natural predators.Wiltshire in Autumn