Heather Large explores what the county has to offer in its most spectacular season.
Every autumn, our parks and woodlands are filled with a rich colour palette of reds, oranges, yellows and golds.
As trees prepare for the winter months, their leaves start to change, as their green chlorophyll breaks down, and we’re treated to a stunning display. It’s the perfect time to immerse yourself in the beautiful landscapes to found in our wonderful county by going for a scenic walk.
Why not wrap up warm with a scarf and gloves, kick through piles of golden, crunchy leaves and indulge in a mug of hot chocolate at a local cafe?
Autumn is also synonymous with pumpkin picking, harvest festivals and Halloween celebrations.
There are many ways to slow down and revel in the best the season has to offer around Shropshire.The county’s National Trust sites offer great opportunities to marvel at the season’s vibrant colours. There is plenty to enjoy in the garden at Dudmaston, near Bridgnorth, at this time of year. The trees begin to turn beautiful shades of orange and gold and the garden team work hard to collect the apple harvest from the orchard.
Visitors can stroll through the trees to see local and historic varieties of apples in full fruit. On October 16, the garden team will be using a traditional apple press to squeeze the juices from this year’s harvest.
Pressing demonstrations will take place at 11.30am and 2pm near visitor reception, and Halfpenny Green Cider will also be giving an insight into the art of cider making.
To see stunning displays of autumn colour, head towards the boathouse and look across Big Pool where the leaves turn beautiful shades of burnt orange and gold. Once the morning mist clears from the pool, you’ll be able to see the reflections of the trees in the water – a stunning seasonal reminder that cooler, shorter days are on the way. In late autumn, waxcap fungi grow on the lawn in the garden, including one known as the pink ballerina, which can also be found nearby on the Long Mynd in the Shropshire Hills. The changing colours of the deer park are on show Attingham Park near Shrewsbury. There is a circular walk that takes in views of the Shropshire landscape to the river, and of the orange-gold trees that mark the start of the woodland. It also offers a chance to marvel at an unusual view of Attingham’s Regency mansion where the stone will look golden in the autumn light. Attingham is home to many different species of wildlife; the National Trust recommends looking out for the swans on the river and in the first few weeks of autumn visitors may still be able to spot some dragonflies along the banks. There’s a riot of colour waiting to be discovered at Powis Castle, near Welshpool, from September to early November. On the low terrace borders, the penstemons, purple beautyberries, sedums, asters and deep blue aconites will be showing off during this season. For a moment of peace and tranquillity, explore the Wilderness, Powis’ formal woodland, and look across the Great Lawn to appreciate the iconic view of the castle with the dogwoods, smokebushes, maples and acers on the slope below glowing in striking shades of gold, orange and yellow. To truly get away from it all, walkers can head to the Long Mynd where autumn brings a freshness to the air.It’s also the perfect time to unwind and take in some of the best views of the year. The cloud inversions mean early morning strolls on the top of the Mynd can be rewarded by the sight of a sea of fog with the Shropshire Hills peaking through like islands. Autumn colour will also be on display at Hawkstone Park Follies where visitors can enjoy a photogenic backdrop as they walk around the 100-acre site of bridges, towers, tunnels, caves, valleys and more. Another popular place to enjoy leaf-peeping is The Dorothy Clive Garden in Willoughbridge, Market Drayton.Covering 12 acres, it includes an edible woodland, rose walk and seasonal borders, and welcomes 15,000 visitors every year. And at this time of year, it’s full of bright yellows, oranges and reds as the leaves give their biggest show. The garden will be open in conjunction with the National Garden Scheme on October 22 and 23. Also open as part of the NGS, will be Offcot in Kinnerley (SY10 8EF) which will be welcoming visitors on October 7 and 8, from 10am to 4pm; The Paddock in Shrewsbury (SY5 8AN) on October 15, from 11am to 5pm, and Millichope Park in Munslow on October 16 from 2pm to 5pm. At Severn Valley Country Park, which covers 126 acres of countryside and spans both sides of a beautiful section of the River Severn, visitors can follow the waymarked riverside, history and geology trails.For the the best displays of leaf colour during the autumn months, Visit Shropshire recommends taking the mile-long Woodland Trail around the Hall Close Coppice; a semi-natural, ancient deciduous woodland full of hazel and alder trees. For anyone looking to pick their own pumpkin in the run-up to Halloween, there are many sites offering this fun-filled family activity, including Llynclys Hall Farm, near Oswestry, and Little Wytheford Farm, near Shrewsbury. There is a host of activities taking place around the country for those wanting to soak up a spooky atmosphere. Park Hall Countryside Experience will be holding its Pumpkinfest from October 14 offering Halloween fun that will not scare the little ones. There will be a giant scarecrow trail in the woods and Pumpkin Alley will have a few new surprises. The Severn Valley Railway is running its ghost trains on October 27, 28 and 29, promising plenty of tricks, treats and fun for the whole family.
After the train leaves Kidderminster, scary characters will sneak through the train’s corridors as it passes through haunted stations on the way to Arley.