Soaking up the auburn colours, enjoying the frost-kissed landscape, and getting cosy in a local pub afterwards. Nothing beats escaping the city for a beautiful bit of hiking in the autumn. Luckily for Bristolians, one of the UK’s best hiking spots is only an hour from the city.
Outdoor retailer, Blacks, has picked some of the UK’s most “picturesque circuits for you to try this Autumn”, including Savernake Forest in Wiltshire, which contains one of the highest concentrations of ancient trees in Europe. So expect the scenery to be overrun with red, gold, orange and yellow leaves everywhere you tred.
The first reference to Savernake Forest (or Safernoc, as it was written then) comes from the records of the King Athelstan in AD 934 – about three years before the founding of England! Stretching over 3,000 acres, there’s a lot to explore here too. With a number of ‘celebratory trees’ to discover (just don’t expect to see them in Hello! magazine).
The most famous tree of all has to be The Big Bellied Oak, the oldest oak in the Savernake Forest it’s over 1,000 years old. The tree got its name from its alarming girth compared to its height. Another famous tree is The King Of Limbs, known for its numerous twisted branches, and was immortalised by the Radiohead album of the same name.
But Savernake has hundreds of such ancient trees, from beeches to oaks, as well as numerous younger trees. If you’re keen to make the trip to this wild and untamed forest, Blacks suggests including The Grand Avenue on your hike. “A long corridor of orange and red beech trees that were incorporated into the forest by the famous landscaper Capability Brown.”
Blacks also says: “If it’s flatter terrain you’re after then this location is for you, with Wiltshire being one of the less hilly parts of the country. Don’t think there aren’t challenges to be found here though, there are many routes to walk or run around the forest, with numerous surfaced and unsurfaced paths for you to choose from, all with named trees and points of interest to pass.”
Fancy a pint afterwards? Your best option is to head into the nearby town of Marlborough, which is full of cosy country pubs.