1. Hyde Park
There’s a glorious avenue of sweet chestnut trees running between the sandy track of Rotten Row and the Serpentine in Hyde Park, and some more at the southern end of Kensington Gardens, complete with happy foragers, many Italian or Chinese. Take a bag.
2. Hampstead Heath
The 800-acre Heath has magnificent trees, but delve a little deeper with this delightful Natural History Museum film (hampsteadheath.net/autumn-walk.html) and end with a cosy tea at Kenwood’s Brew House english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/kenwood.
3. Victoria Park
The first planned park in Britain, built in London’s East End in the 1840s, worked with Trees for Cities to create three tree trails: World, Heritage and Children’s. Big walkers can stride along the green route all the way out to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Iron and timber
4. Epping Forest
Ambresbury Bank is an Iron Age fort at the north end of Epping Forest, a literal high spot in 6,000 acres of deciduous forest owned by the City of London. Walk south west to High Beach and family-run biker haunt the Old Tea Hut (originalteahut.com).
Epping Forest CREDIT: GETTY
Chequers and Chilterns
5. Wendover, Buckinghamshire
Hop on a train from Marylebone and you’ll be in the Chiltern Hills in 50 minutes. It’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the first walk in this leaflet takes you high through the smooth beeches of Wendover Woods and past the PM’s country pad.
Foraging and fossils
6. Lesnes Abbey, Bexley
The Green Chain Walk is south east London’s best-kept – or most ignored – secret. Section 1 covers ruined twelfth-century Lesnes Abbey, its woods stuffed with chestnuts, mushrooms (pick only if you know your fungi) and a fossil pit for young geologists.
Grapes and mistletoe
7. Hampton Court Palace
In 1768 Hampton Court’s gardeners planted a vine to supply King George III with Black Hamburg grapes. 250 years later it’s the biggest surviving vine in the world, with its own greenhouse and keeper. Every autumn you can buy the grapes from the Walled Garden. The palace gardens are full of blazing trees, as is (free) Bushy Park beyond.
Dr Fox’s treasured trees
8. Winkworth, Surrey
A 40-minute drive down the A3 and two miles from Godalming railway station, 1,000 trees colour a deep Surrey valley. The collection was planted by Dr Wilfrid Fox in the 1930s and has grown over the past 60 years thanks to the National Trust. There are regular volunteer-led walks and plenty of flatter trails for small children or wheelchairs.
9. London’s heritage cemeteries
Nowhere captures the melancholy beauty of the dying year better than the ‘Magnificent Seven’. The most famous is Highgate, but do try Brompton, Kensal Green and lesser-known Nunhead and Tower Hamlets. Loyal ‘Friends of’ run events and walks.
Autumn memorial walk
10. Royal parks
For a proper autumn yomp through central London, borrow the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk in her 20th anniversary year and follow the metal floor plaques on a seven-mile route through four royal parks, passing six of her former London homes.