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Guide to best places in Norfolk to see autumn leaves in colourful glory

PUBLISHED: 16:55 19 October 2017

Helen Dargan and her daughter Cecily play amongst the autumn leaves. Photo: Chris Ison/PA

Helen Dargan and her daughter Cecily play amongst the autumn leaves. Photo: Chris Ison/PA

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There maybe a chill in the air but autumn is among the best times to explore our great woods and beautiful forests as they become a glorious patchwork of colour. We highlight some of the best to visit to get the best of nature in autumn.

Fiona Gutteridge walking in the Autumnal sunshine at The Walks, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt Fiona Gutteridge walking in the Autumnal sunshine at The Walks, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Fairhaven Garden Trust

School Road, South Walsham, 01603 270449, fairhavengarden.co.uk

Open: daily 10am-5pm

Admission: £6.75 (£6.15 cons), £3.85 children, 25p dogs (must be on a lead)

There’s a magical feel to walking in the woods at Fairhaven, which manages to have plenty going on without spoiling the tranquillity. The magnificent 950-year-old King Oak is found among other ancient oaks, beech and native trees. There are three miles of easy walking, pushchair friendly, woodland trails. Autumn events include fungi forays (Oct 28) and an autumn walk (Nov 19).

Thetford Forest

High Lodge, near Brandon, 01842 815434, forestry.gov.uk/thetfordforestpark

Open: visitors centre daily 9am-5pm

Autumn leaves lit by sunshine on the Royal Estate at Sandringham. Picture: Ian Burt Autumn leaves lit by sunshine on the Royal Estate at Sandringham. Picture: Ian Burt

Admission: Free, car parking entry fee

The UK’s largest man made lowland forest with 18,730 hectares to explore. Though much is pines and heathland there are also broad-leaved trees that turn into a riot of autumnal colour. There is cycle hire available (01842 810090). Go-Ape (goape.co.uk) also offers Segway tours for a different ways to view the autumn spectacle.

Burlingham Woods

Off the A47, near Acle

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free

A great place to really take in autumn woodland colour. A mixture of mature woodland and more recent wood and orchard plantings with three easy circular walks of one mile, two miles and three miles. It is owned by Norfolk County Council and recent work has reintroduced coppice rotations and wood management to keep brambles and non-native trees to a minimum. Trails pass through and around land associated with the late Georgian Burlingham Hall, demolished 50 years ago.

Leaves begin to change colours as autumn starts to take over at Lynford Arbouretum near Mundford. Photo: Simon Parker Leaves begin to change colours as autumn starts to take over at Lynford Arbouretum near Mundford. Photo: Simon Parker

Sheringham Park

Wood Farm, Upper Sheringham, 01263 820550, nationaltrust.org.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk, visitors centre open daily 10am-5pm until Oct 29, then weekends

Admission: Free

Designed by Humphry Repton, now owned by the National Trust, 1,000 acres of varying habitat including woodland, parkland and cliff top with miles of footpaths with easy walking and cycling. Famous for its vast collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, at this time of year it’s the autumn leaves that are the star attraction with some spectacularly colourful foliage. It is worth looking out for smooth Japanese maple and golden larch which are both along the main drive.

Foxley Wood

Off the A1067 Norwich to Fakenham

Rood, 10 miles south east of Fakenham, norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

Berries and leaves on a beautiful autumn morning at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens. Photo: James Bass Berries and leaves on a beautiful autumn morning at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens. Photo: James Bass

Open: 10am-5pm (except Thurs)

Admission: Dawn to dusk, no dogs

Norfolk’s largest ancient woodland is the place to get away from it all. In autumn there’s an awe-inspiring feel to the sheer silence of the woods, broken only by birdsong and the wind in the trees. Another peaceful spot of note is one of Norfolk’s few ancient woodlands at Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe, where a thick carpet of leaves underfoot, brings a magical feel.

Sandringham Park

Sandringham, 01553 612908, sandringhamestate.co.uk

Open: Gardens 10.30am-4pm

Admission: Museum and garden £10 (£9 cons), £5 children, £25 family

Norfolk people claim back their royal residence from summer visitors in autumn. The house, set in 24 hectares of stunning gardens, is perhaps the most famous stately home in Norfolk and is at the heart of the 8,000-hectare Sandringham Estate, 240 hectares of which make up the woodland. There are nature trails, paths and an abundance of conkers and chestnuts.

Autumnal scenes on the Royal Estate at Sandringham. Picture: Ian Burt Autumnal scenes on the Royal Estate at Sandringham. Picture: Ian Burt

Wayland Wood

A1075 to Thetford, just south of Watton, norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free, no dogs

Believed to be the site for the legend of the Babes In The Wood, this is one of the wilder woods in Norfolk and is said to be haunted by the souls — and the wails — of the young abandoned brother and sister. It’s a thick wood of hazel, oak, ash and bird cherry. Or there’s Honeypot Wood, three miles west of Dereham, a lovely sounding name, but actually means it was close to a medieval sewage dump — a honey pit. Full of oak, ash, field maple and hazel, it’s a remnant of woodland dating back to the retreat of the last ice age.

Bacton Woods

2.5 miles north-east of North Walsham, 01842 810271, forestry.gov.uk

Autumn in Norwich as the leaves turn golden and clear blue skies bring out the vivid colours on Mousehold.; Photo: Simon Finlay Autumn in Norwich as the leaves turn golden and clear blue skies bring out the vivid colours on Mousehold.; Photo: Simon Finlay

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free

Also known as Witton Wood, tree cover here dates back to Saxon times. A wide variety of colourful autumn leaves with ancient Sessile Oaks among more than 30 different species of tree including larch and western hemlock in 280 acres of wood owned by the Forestry Commission. Popular with mountain bikers, it’s great for dogs with wide, criss-crossing paths.

Mousehold Heath

Norwich

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free

A unique 88 hectare area made up of heathland, woodland and recreational open that is the largest local nature reserve managed by Norwich City Council. It stretched as far as South Walsham in Tudor times and was where Robert Kett, rebelling against the Duke of Somerset, camped with his army in 1549. Up until the early 1900s, it was open countryside with few trees and kept open. As grazing animals disappeared the woodland returned. It offers great of the city and it’s easy to find quiet spots among the mature native trees, pits, dips and dells.

A conker lays amid leaves in the leaves in front of the Red Mount Chapel on The Walks, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt A conker lays amid leaves in the leaves in front of the Red Mount Chapel on The Walks, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Felbrigg Estate

Felbrigg, near Cromer, signposted from A148 and A140, 01263 837444, nationaltrust.org.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Garden only £4.25, £1.80 children

Riots of reds, browns, golds and russets creating a truly spectacular autumn palette here. Follow ancient rights of way through the approximately 520-acre Great Wood, which contains thousands of trees – mainly maple, oaks, beeches, sycamore and chestnut. Stunning views across the lake and a Victory Wood – 200,000 trees and V-shaped rides commemorating VE Day.

Tyrrels Wood

Off the A140, Pulham Market, TM206897

Autumn leaves in glorious colours are a glorious sight before the on-set of bare woodland winter. Photo: PA Autumn leaves in glorious colours are a glorious sight before the on-set of bare woodland winter. Photo: PA

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free

Quiet and off the beaten track, Tyrrels Wood is a welcome spot for visitors and wildlife alike. Paths wind through dense undergrowth, emerging in open areas that boast big veteran oak trees. A circular route will take you through groves of gem-coloured oak, birch and ash, patches of golden yellow field maple interrupted by dashes of rowan-berry redness.

The Walks

King’s Lynn, thewalks.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free

This historic urban park is a fabulous place to enjoy glorious autumn colours right in the heart of the town. Parks laid out as formal pleasure and recreation grounds only became common in the middle of the 19th century. The Walks are an important area in the national context, rather than merely a local one, and in 1998 were designated by English Heritage as a grade II historic park. The 800 mature trees are kings here, perfect for squirrel and bird spotting, and with great piles of leaves to kick.

Pensthorpe

Off the A148 near Fakenham, 01328 851465, pensthorpe.com

Open: 10am-5pm daily

Admission: £11.25 (£10.50 cons), £10.95 children, under-3s free

Flourishing with colourful butterflies and insects during the spring and summer months, and providing essential nesting materials and seeds for birds throughout the winter, this fine Norfolk attraction is worth a visit even after its mid-August peak, with the autumnal colours of the perennial foliage providing a rich spectacle well into the autumn months.

Thursford Wood

North east of Fakenham. Leave Fakenham on the A148 road towards Cromer. norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free

Woodland where some oaks are believed to be more than 500 years old. As well as containing some of the oldest oak trees in Norfolk, Thursford also has an excellent display of autumnal fungi. Good numbers of common woodland birds are present and the fallen branches and ancient trunks house an impressive range of insects and, with ponds too, the diversity of wildlife is impressive.

Houghton Hall

Off the A148, 10 miles west of Fakenham, 01485 528569, houghtonhall.com

Open: Wed-Thurs and Sun 11am-4pm

Admission: Garden and grounds £10, children free

The Hall gardens and ground are open until October 26, but even when they are closed for the winter, there are plenty of walks in the surrounding area, with fantastic views of this beautiful stately home from the wide tree lined avenues. The parkland was planted in the early 18th century, and contains a number of ancient oak and sweet chestnut trees. It is also home to a herd of about six hundred white fallow deer, as well as small groups of other rare deer species.

Lynford Arboretum

Off of the A1065 on the Lynford Road, near Mundford, Thetford

Open: Dawn to dusk

Admission: Free

Set squarely in the Brecks amidst Thetford Forest, Britain’s largest lowland pine forest, Lynford Arboretum is the most easterly of the Forestry Commission’s arboreta. Noted for its peace, tranquillity and amazing colour show, it is a great place to enjoy an autumnal stroll. The seasonal trail will lead you through Sequoia Avenue, one of the special features of the area. This double rowed avenue of Sequoias was planted in the 1800s to honour the Duke of Wellington and at one time featured alternate red flowering chestnut trees.

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