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Train companies affected:South Western Railway

Golden Rails

Discover the best places in Britain for autumn colours by train

From russet-coloured misty forest canopies to dramatic golden coastlines and orange-tinted panoramic vistas, Britain is awash with colour throughout the months of autumn, making for the most scenic days out. 

We’ve curated some of the best autumnal getaways for you to experience nature this season, which you can easily get to by train.

And when you book with a Railcard, you can get 1/3 off your journey, too! 

 

England 

Explore some of England’s best forests, lakes and woodlands by rail.  

Hike for autumn views of majestic Lake Windermere 

Pack your hiking boots and take the train to England’s largest natural lake, Lake Windermere. 

There’s lots of walks to choose from, but one of our favourites is the not-too-taxing walk to the top of Orrest Head, which starts just 3 minutes from the train station. From the summit you can see the entire lake with the autumn colours wonderfully reflected in the water. 

There’s also an abundance of shops, cafes and accommodation close to the station. 

Nearest station: Windermere

Buxton: your gateway to the Peak District  

Head to the handsome spa town of Buxton and enjoy the lush woodland on the Ring of Trees Walk – and find conkers while you’re at it. 

You can also hike up the steep climb to Solomon’s Temple if you’re feeling adventurous. It’s worth it – your reward at the top is a sweeping view of the town and the sepia-hued Peak District beyond. 

If time is on your side, nearby Chatsworth House and its impeccably landscaped garden, which changes colour daily this time of year, beckons. Highlights include the adventure playground, the cascade – a unique water feature – and the maze. 

Nearest station: Buxton

A kaleidoscope of colour in the New Forest 

Book a train to the picture-perfect village of Brockenhurst, which will take you deep within the New Forest for an impressive autumnal spectacle. 

Walk over heather plains shaded by ancient trees, then spot New Forest ponies roaming the heathland at sunset from a cosy village pub by a roaring fire. 

For something a little more special, sign up to a guided truffle hunting walk among grand oaks. 

Nearest station: Brockenhurst

 

Scotland 

Grab a flask of tea and step onboard for unforgettable railway journeys.  

For breathtaking views: Fort William, West Highlands 

Catch the train from Glasgow to the outdoorsy town of Fort William and watch the rugged bronzed highlands sweep by from your window. 

It’s pretty incredible, but that’s the West Highland Way for you, arguably one of the most picturesque railway journeys in the world. Among other sights, you can see Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor and Ben Nevis in all their autumnal glory. 

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, don’t miss the steam train from Fort William to Mallaig for 40 miles of unrivalled scenery crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct, the famous Hogwarts Express route.  

Nearest station: Fort William

See Scotland’s wildlife in Pitlochry, Perthshire 

If you want history, wildlife, rivers, lochs and forests, Pitlochry has the lot. Just a 30-minute train ride from Perth takes you to this pretty Victorian town on the River Tummel. 

Look for leaping salmon at the dam’s salmon ladder and spot red deer munching berries on the Rob Roy Way.    

Nearby Faskally Forest is ablaze in autumn, so take the gentle trail around Dunmore Loch for the best views.

Nearest station: Pitlochry

Ride to the water’s edge at Lochalsh 

Weave along the northwest coast from Inverness on the Kyle Line for a train journey like no other.   

See copper-coloured forests, twinkling lochs and fairy-tale castles unfold en route to the Kyle of Lochalsh. From here, you’re just a boat ride from the Isle of Skye, where there’s plenty of autumnal beauty.   

Look for sea lions on coastal walks and visit the fishing village of Plockton by train or as part of a day hike.  

Nearest station: Kyle of Lochalsh 

 

Wales 

Discover autumnal getaways that make the most of the striking Welsh landscape.  

A riot of colour awaits in Portmeirion, North Wales  

Vivid red, yellow and pink leaves add extra pizazz to the eccentric rainbow resort that is Portmeirion, where you can hear the whistling coastal wind as you explore the Japanese garden and head down to the beach. 

Elsewhere, the tallest and rarest trees in Wales tower above you in the Y Gwyllt (“the wild”) wooded peninsula, but do watch out for the tide blocking coastal paths.  

And you can leave the car at home – Minffordd train station is just a 20-minute walk away. 

Nearest station: Minffordd 

Steam train beauty from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd 

Pull down the window and breathe in the mountain air as you chug through stunning Welsh countryside on a glorious steam train journey that shows you the peaks of Snowdonia and through leaf-dropping forests. 

In Blaenau Ffestiniog, whose backdrop includes the Moelwynion mountains, you can learn about the town’s rich slate mining history. 

True story: this feat of Victorian engineering is the world’s oldest narrow-gauge railway. 

Nearest station: Porthmadog 

Leaf-crunching fun at Castell Coch, Cardiff 

Spend a bright autumn day watching the leaves do a turn and fall around Castell Coch in Cardiff, which peeks out of the forest like a story-book castle. 

Spot wooden carvings under fiery beech trees on the Dragon Trail through Forest Fawr,  then warm up with a coffee at the nearby cafe.   

If you have time, head to Taff’s Well Park, which is famous for having the only thermal spring in all of Wales.  

Nearest station: Taffs Well

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