At this time of year, there’s nothing I love better than a good long walk in the crisp air, crunching on orange leaves. And if I am going to do that there are a few places that I love to go back to year on year and a few newfound favourites.
So if you’re like me and want to find some incredible places for scenic autumn walks in the North East of England, this is the post for you!
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Lets get on with the guide!
High and Low Force, County Durham
High and Low Force is a beautiful place to visit all year round. However, I think it is better to visit in the autumn for three reasons.
- The water flow over the falls is stronger than it is during the summer.
- The trees are all beautiful colours which really makes the place that much more stunning!
- And finally, the site is quieter as fewer people tend to visit it during the colder months compared to the busy summer.
I have a blog post which has all the information about the best places to park and the best routes to get the most out of your day.
The site is mostly a free walking trail but if you do want to go and see High Force from the water’s edge viewing platform you do need to pay for a ticket. They cost £2.50 for adults, £1 for children between 5-15 yrs and under 5s are free.
Cragside National Trust in Northumberland is one of my favourite places in the North East. And if you’ve been following my Instagram account for very long, you’ll know how much I love visiting!
Last weekend we went and the colours in the leaves were just starting to get really autumnal. It’s finally becoming my favourite season which means it is the perfect time to visit Cragside, especially if you haven’t been before.
Their winter open hours are 10am-5pm with the house and tearooms opening and closing one hour after the site opens and closing one hour before the park.
You no longer have to book, however, non-national trust members do need to pay to visit.
Their prices until 31st October are:
£20 per adult
£10 per child
Family tickets are available, more info on their website here.
However, from November 1st to February 18th, their prices change. The house will only be open on a weekend and only the ground floor is open for visitors.
Winter Weekday Prices at Cragside:
Winter Weekend Prices at Cragside:
If you do want to visit, you can follow Postcode: NE65 7PX
Gibside is another great national trust site a little closer to the main cities here in the North East. It’s located just outside of Gateshead which makes it ideal for locals from both Sunderland and Newcastle to visit.
Here at Gibside, you have the option of either long or short walks, all of which are very pretty and offer very enjoyable and pretty walks through the trees!
The site is open 10am-4pm 7 days a week, with parking being included in the cost of your ticket (National Trust members park for free).
Gibside is a National Trust site, so members can visit for free. However, non-members will need to buy their tickets upon arrival at the site. Their prices are as follows:
Family tickets are available, more information is available here.
If you do want to visit, you can follow Postcode NE16 6BG
Hamsterley Forest is a great day out for all ages as again it has the options for longer or shorter walks. So no matter how fit or little your legs are, there is something for you. As well as having a great play area and the Gruffalo trail to follow.
Considering it is a forest, there will be plenty of beautiful autumn leaves to get you in the mood for the season!
The open hours are always dusk till dawn, but at this time of year, this of course means it’s a lot more limited than the summer. However, even in the colder months the toilets are open, as well as the takeaway food and drink outlets which are open 10am-4pm 7 days a week.
Entry into Hamsterley is free which makes it a great cheap day out for all the family. However, you do need to pay for parking.
Up to 1 hour: £2
All Day: £6
(Bank Holidays): £10
If you want to visit, you’ll need Postcode: DL13 3NL
Allen Banks is a bit of a hidden gem in Northumberland as I feel it gets overshadowed by the other incredible places up there. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though because it does mean that you will have a very peaceful time while you’re there!
The site contains a really beautiful trail which is fairly easy-going although the path itself is very uncared for so bear that in mind.
The good thing about this site being a little off the beaten track, it is open 24 hours. So if you want to go for a late-night walk or be there at the crack of dawn you aren’t limited to any time. This is great for in the summer as the car park is quite small so if you really want to visit you can get there nice and early before the car park fills up.
Parking at Allen Banks is £4 all day. Out on the trails, there are no facilities, other than the toilets at the car park which seemed clean enough. Although I can’t say how often they get cleaned throughout busy days.
If you do want to visit you’ll need to use Postcode: NE47 7BP
Plessey Woods Country Park, Northumberland
Plessey Woods is a great cheap day out in Northumberland for all the family. There are a few different trails of varying difficulty but generally, the terrain is easy-going and has some very pretty spots.
There is a pretty decent-sized play area which kinda made me wish I was a kid again so I could go join in. In this area, there are also a lot of picnic benches and this is where the cafe and toilets are.
The park itself is free to go into, and if you are driving there it is only £3 for the car park all day. Postcode: NE22 6AN.
At Bolam Lake, the walk simply around the lake isn’t very long (not sure exactly but it felt like just over 1 mile). This initial walk is very flat, there were lots of pushchairs around and there is a play area so it is a great spot for kids. There were also toilets on the far side which is always a bonus.
However, if you did want to go a little further and do a longer walk there is a route up to Shaftoe Crags. Out here the trail is no longer pushchair friendly and it becomes hiking boot country. However, there are some spectacular views over Northumberland which at this time of year will be pretty and orange!
If you are staying all day, then parking will cost you £3, however, the rest of the site is free so again this is a cheap day out! Postcode for Bolam Lake: NE20 0HE
Durhams Riverside walk is a really beautiful place to wander. Especially if you can get a sunny day for it!
The walk can be as long as you wish as there are a great number of paths you can follow along the River Wear. However, if you are going through to Durham then I would highly recommend visiting some more of the city. There is so much to do there and it is one of the most beautiful parts of the North East.
I do have a full guide to visiting here on Mackem Life.
Castle Eden Dene is a little bit of a hidden gem in County Durham as I find that people outside of the close area haven’t a clue where it is!
We visited on New Year’s Day and it was absolutely incredible. It is such a beautiful place and somewhere I imagine is even better in the height of Autumn.
Castle Eden Dene is absolutely hiking boot or welly terrain and I don’t think wheelchairs or pushchairs would be at all suitable. Nonetheless, it is a really great place for a walk. It’s not a huge place though so the walk won’t take you all day.
If you do want to visit, you can use postcode: SR8 1NJ. Parking was free as was the park so this is a great free day out. The car park itself was tiny though so bear this in mind when visiting.
Hardwick Country Park, County Durham
This site is another one that inspired this list as I saw a photo of it on Instagram and knew I had to go there!
Hardwick Country Park is down near Sedgefield. It didn’t take us very long to get down which was great. I will have a full guide to this here on Mackemlife!
The walk here wasn’t strenuous at all, there were lots of people with children and pushchairs so it would be very wheelchair friendly too. It also wasn’t very long. It might have taken us an hour to get around and that’s with me stopping at every vantage point for photos!
Parking was very cheap, we paid £3 all day but there were options if you were staying between one and two. They do have a pay online system which isn’t the best but we got there eventually, or you can pay cash at the machines.
You could stretch the day out if you took a picnic or visited the onsite cafe. I didn’t go in and have a look but the outside looked like a new building. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all and looked really well cared for.
If you are visiting, use the Postcode: TS21 2DN
Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland
Kielder is an incredibly beautiful place, especially in the autumn, Here you will have an endless range of options on where to walk, what to see and how far you want to walk.
On many of the trails, you can see some of the 20 pieces of artwork around the park. You can download their trails guide PDF HERE. Please note there is no/very little phone signal throughout the park so if you were planning on just using your phone for maps, think again!
There are 3 main visitor centres around the water, all with parking and facilities such as toilets/cafes. The three visitor centres are;
- Tower Knowe, postcode: NE48 1BX
- Leaplish Waterside, postcode: NE48 1BT
- Kielder Castle, postcode: NE48 1EP
Leaplish has the most facilities and is, in my opinion, the best for walking. However, you can make your own decision.
Parking is £5 all day across the whole park. Most of the car parks only accept coins, however, the tickets can be bought from the visitor centres.
Durham Heritage Coast, County Durham
Durham’s Heritage Coast is one of my favourite places to go walking in any season! During the lockdown, we headed here very often and I feel we discovered so many wonderful parts of this coastline.
Much of this coastline is up on the cliff tops or down on the beaches. However, if you head inland slightly and follow the trails through Hawthorn Dene there you will find really pretty autumnal spots!
Because of its nature of it, you have the ability to choose how far and what kind of walk you do. For those who want to keep at one elevation, you can stay up on the cliff tops and walk along. Or if you aren’t bothered by steep hills you could go down onto the many beaches along here, the most popular being blast beach.
I do have a full guide to visiting full of trails and places not to miss if you did head down this way.
Down on this coastal route, there are very few facilities and the best spot for parking is Noses Point which is just up from Blast Beach. Postcode: SR7 7PS
Thrunton Woods, Northumberland
Whenever I think of autumnal walks, I instantly think of woodlands. This makes Thrunton Woods up in Northumberland the perfect place!
The area is very rural even for a walking area and the trails do sometimes get a little confusing so I would recommend grabbing a map or downloading one because there isn’t great service there either.
Parking is free at Thrunton Woods which I always love. However, I have heard from a few people that parking is an issue because of how small the car park is and also the fact that it’s free. So if you want to visit, follow Postcode: NE66 4SQ
Rainton Meadows, County Durham
Rainton Meadows is a part of the Durham Wildlife Trust. Across the 74 hector site, you’ll be able to see many of the 200 species of birds that live here throughout the year.
Rainton is an ideal place to take your children as the terrain is very easy to walk on, there is a play area and a cafe at the visitors centre. The walking trails aren’t very long, a couple miles at most but this makes it ideal for a relaxing walk rather than a strenuous one.
It also has free parking and entry to the site itself is free too. This makes it an ideal place. Plus, it is very pretty this time of year!
If you would like to visit you’ll need Postcode: DH4 6PU.
From a place that is perfect for a relaxing walk, to a proper hike. Simonside is the most difficult walk on this list, but the most rewarding. Being high up above the forest that covers the hill and being able to appreciate the colours will be a perfect place for an autumnal walk.
In terms of the trail, there is a signpost in the car park which shows you the two routes, one is very short and just through the forest, and the other takes you up and along the summits of Simonside. This is the route I recommend as it means you can really appreciate the site.
If you are interested in the trial, have a look at my post about it as it has all the details you’ll need to plan your visit. You can view it here.
In terms of facilities at Simonside, there are none. There’s no cafe or toilets so keep this in mind.
Parking at Simonside is completely free and was a decent size too so you shouldn’t struggle to get parked. Postcode: NE65 7NW
Jesmond Dene, Newcastle
If you are going then you should make sure to visit while the food market is on. this runs on the first and third Saturday of every month. You can find more information out on their Facebook page.
If you are wanting to visit, all the information you need about getting here and where to park is available on the Friends of Jesmond Dene website here.
Cox Green, Fat Field and the Victoria Viaduct, Sunderland
The route from Cox Green along the river, under the Victoria Viaduct to the Fat Field Bridge and back, is about an hour-long trail.
This path follows the river wear through the trees and will give you some really beautiful sights as you go. We were lucky enough to spot a Herron when we were there in the spring.
This is a great place to go if you want to grab some lunch on your way as there are a few options for you. You could stop off at the Cox Green Tea Trailer, or visit one of the pubs further down in Fat Field which all looked really lovely when we passed.
In terms of parking, you have a number of options however we parked at Cox Green and walked the route that way. However, you could park anywhere along here and do the route that way. Here are your options:
Cox Green Car Park
Postcode: SR4 9JS
HM Viewing Area (North side of Cox Green Footbridge)
Postcode: NE38 8JZ
Riverside Walk Car Park
Postcode: NE38 8NW
South View Car Park (North side of the Victoria Viaduct)
Postcode: NE38 0RB
Mount Pleasent Lake
Postcode: DH4 7PU
Linhope Spout is a really stunning part of Northumberland. The waterfall is hidden in a little corner and surrounded by beautiful scenery and woodlands.
With this walk you can choose to just head over to the falls or extend your hike and climb the nearby Ritto Hill or even head up and climb some of the Cheviot if you wished!
Parking is free along the road to the spout and I’d imagine it is a nightmare to park in the summer when it is busy.
Postcode: NE66 4LZ
If you want more information then I would recommend having a look at my blog post about it which has a lot more information about the route.
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Stay Safe and Happy Adventuring!
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