Five fantastic autumn walks you can get to by train

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Fi Darby

30 Sep 20229 min read

After a summer of disconcerting weather, autumn is finally just around the corner. With the cooling off of the days and the gentle relaxing of the light, there are few better ways to welcome the change of seasons than a fresh autumn walk. For many of us autumn is the perfect time to get out into nature but with rising fuel costs and busy roads, accessing the outdoors isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have a car.

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Access the outdoors by train 

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We all know plenty of cities with train stations but you might be surprised to hear our railway network has miles of track that can easily get you into the type of countryside you would usually associate with a car trip. Whether you’re looking for relaxing waterscapes or vibrant autumn leaf colour, we have five fantastic autumn walks you can easily enjoy by train.

Lace up your boots and hop on board. We’re off to avoid the car parks and car-related stress while we find our own perfect autumn walk by train.


Five autumn walks from train stations 


1. A walk with a lake view from Windermere Station – Lake District National Park


Three-word description: Exercise. Hill. Viewpoint.

Windermere is probably one of the Lake District’s most well-known bodies of water but not everybody knows it has its very own train station. You could easily walk the three kilometres down to the waterside but one of the best Windermere walks takes you up to the viewpoint at Orrest Head, and the path starts right next to the station. Even more perfect, this hill doesn’t have a car park so while everyone else is looking for a space, you’ll already be on your way to the best views in town.

Look out for autumn colour as you climb through Elleray Forest then enjoy misty autumn views from the top as you gaze across the water towards Scafell Pike. For a gentler climb, keep an eye on the signposts for the accessible and pushchair-friendly route. Pack your binoculars and linger for a while; there’s plenty to see. When you had your fill of stunning views, head back down the way you came or, for a longer walk, take a detour along the footpaths that cross the nearby fields.

Brief directions

Walk a short way west along the A591 until you see the Orrest Head sign. Turn right off the road then follow the way markers until you get to the viewpoint. The accessible route winds its way up the hill but there is a steeper, more direct path.

Recommended map: OS Explorer - OL7 - The English Lakes, South-Eastern Area

Toilets: Windermere Station (during booking hours)

Distance: 2 kilometres to the view point

Steepness: Hilly but not too steep

Terrain: Accessible route available

Estimated time: 1.5 hours (there and back)

Refreshments: Windermere

Local accessibility information: Lake District National Park – Miles Without Stiles

Signs of autumn: Expect mists over the water and a brisk breeze


2. Roydon Woods Nature Reserve from Brockenhurst Station – New Forest National Park

Richard Loader 67f6 W Qq Zf Uk Unsplash

Three-word description: Woods. Wellies. Splashing.

Beautiful Brockenhurst itself is a really interesting village to explore but as this is an autumn walk, it would be a shame not to venture into the forest. Follow the lanes and paths southeast from Brockenhurst station and you’ll soon find yourself inside the Roydon Woods Nature Reserve, where you can enjoy a mixed landscape of grassy meadows, evergreen conifers and autumn orange beech trees.

As you go, keep your ears open for the great spotted woodpecker and perhaps the strange sound of sika stag whistling. Keep walking until the ford in the Lymington River, and you’ll be all set to enjoy a bit of traditional autumn welly splashing.

Brief directions

From the station, cross the A337 then find Church Lane just to the north. Follow this lane until you reach the bridlepath heading southeast. Continue into the woods. As you come out of the woods near Roydon Manor, turn left to reach the Lymington River ford.

Recommended map: OS Explorer - OL22 – New Forest

Toilets: Brockenhurst Station

Distance: 3 kilometres down to the ford across the Lymington River

Steepness: Slight hill

Terrain: Uneven paths, sometimes muddy

Estimated time: 2 hours (there and back)

Refreshments: Brockenhurst Village

Local accessibility information: Roydon Woods Nature Reserve

Signs of autumn: Look out for different types of fungi but don’t be tempted to taste


3. Two lochs from Aviemore Station – Cairngorms National Park

 Cairngorms National Park

Three-word description: Lochs. Island. Castle.

With the Cairngorms on one side and the Monadhliath on the other, the area around Aviemore isn’t short of serious mountain walks. However, there are other less challenging options available. The low-level route between Aviemore and Loch an Eilein takes you through the fragrant Rothiemurchus pine forests and past Lochan Mor. 

Once you arrive at Loch an Eilein, you’ll find it hard to take your eyes off the view across to the tiny island and ruined castle. Allow yourself plenty of time to absorb the atmosphere. Then you can ponder the mystery of Scottish placenames. A lochan is a small loch or lake, which makes Lochan Mor (big small lake) a bit confusing.

Brief directions

From Aviemore Station pick up the Speyside Way and head south. Turn left towards Inverdruie at the first road junction. From the Visitor Centre at Inverdruie, take the footpaths towards Monadh Liadh and Lochan Mor. Keep going until you meet the lane then turn left again to follow the lane to Loch an Eilein.

Recommended map: OS Explorer – OL57 - Cairn Gorm & Aviemore

Toilets: Aviemore Station (during ticket office hours)

Distance: 5.5 kilometres to Loch an Eilein

Steepness: Slight hill

Terrain: Roads and well-used paths, sometimes muddy

Estimated time: 3 hours (there and back)

Refreshments: Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre

Local accessibility information: Cairngorms National Park Authority

Signs of autumn: Keep an eye out for busy red squirrels amongst the stunning yellow birch trees.


4. Swallow Falls from Betws-y-Coed – Snowdonia National Park


Three-word description: Climb. River. Rushing.

With increased chances of rainfall, autumn is one of the best times to go waterfall spotting. All the more so if, as at Swallow Falls near Betws-y-Coed, you’re also going to be treated to a feast of autumn leaf colour. Put together the bright yellow birch, the warm orange beech and the rush of tumbling water, and you have the perfect autumn walk destination. One that you can reach surprisingly easily from a train station.

This walk along the north bank of the Afon (River) Llugwy takes you through some of Betws-y-Coed's beautiful woodland scenery (coed is the Welsh word for trees). For most of it you’ll be following a section of the Snowdonia Slate Trail, an 83-mile walking route that celebrates the important part slate quarrying has played in Welsh history. Small admission charges apply at Swallow Falls (coins or contactless) so set off prepared.

Brief directions

Leave the station and cross the car park and green. Turn right up the main road through the village then right again to cross the bridge. Turn left to follow the footpath alongside the river. This is the Snowdonia Slate Trail so look out for signs. Keep the river on your left as you climb up to Swallow Falls

Recommended map: OS Explorer - OL17 - Snowdon Yr Wyddfa

Toilets: At the car park next to Betws-y-Coed station (charges apply)

Distance: 3.8 kilometres to Swallow Falls

Steepness: Some might call this a stiff climb

Terrain: Lanes and rough paths

Estimated time: 2.5 hours (there and back)

Refreshments: Plenty of choice in Betws-y-Coed

Local accessibility information: Snowdonia National Park Authority

Signs of autumn: With a rushing river and bright-coloured leaves, expect autumn in abundance.


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5. Tintern Abbey from Chepstow – Wye Valley AONB

Wye Valley Aonb

Three-word description: Woods. Views. Vertigo.

With a castle, a Giant’s Cave and a spectacular ruined abbey, you might want to save this autumn train walk for Halloween. For much of the time you’ll be perched amongst the trees high above the Afon Gwy (River Wye) just on the Welsh side of the England/Wales border. On a clear day you’ll be able to see all the way to the Bristol Channel and the Severn Bridges from the Eagle’s Nest viewpoint.

It’s a short stroll to pick up the Wye Valley Walk from Chepstow Station. Climb through the steeply hanging woodlands on the west side of the river, enjoying the autumn colours of ash, lime and hazel as you go. It is usually possible to return on the other side of the river but at the time of writing, the footbridge over the Wye at Tintern Abbey was closed for maintenance.

Brief directions

Leave the station and join the Wye Valley Walk near Chepstow Castle (you may also spot signs for the Wales Coast Path). Keeping the River Wye on your right, follow the Wye Valley Walk as it cuts off a bend in the river. Enjoy the tunnel at Giant’s Cave and the climb up to the Eagle’s Nest viewpoint. Continue through the woods at Black Cliff then head down the hill to Tintern Abbey.

Recommended map: OS Explorer – OL14 - Wye Valley & Forest of Dean

Toilets: Near Chepstow Castle and at Tintern Abbey (there are no toilets at Chepstow Station)

Distance: 9.4 kilometres to Tintern Abbey

Steepness: Steep and not for the faint-hearted

Terrain: Steep uneven paths and some steps

Estimated time: 6.5 hours (there and back)

Refreshments: Chepstow and Tintern Village

Local accessibility information: Cadw - Tintern Abbey & The Wye Valley Walk 

Signs of autumn: Expect low mists hovering over the river and stunning autumn colour.


Tips for autumn train walks


Autumn is a fantastic time of year to go for a walk in the UK. With fresher air than during the summer months, autumn walks can be really invigorating as well as giving you access to stunning leaf colour, sensuous low mists and those comforting autumnal aromas. We have ten top tips to help you enjoy your autumn train walks safely and comfortably.

  1. Choose sturdy footwear to help you negotiate more slippery footpaths
  2. The nights are drawing in so allow plenty of time to finish your walk before dark
  3. Pack a head torch just in case you do end up walking in the dark
  4. If you want to see autumn leaf colour, check your map for ‘non-coniferous’ or deciduous woodland
  5. Autumn days can be misty so take a map and a compass to help you find your way
  6. Wear layers of clothing to give you options during unpredictable autumn weather
  7. Always carry a waterproof jacket, and consider also taking waterproof trousers
  8. Carrying a first aid kit will help you make sure you’re ready for any emergencies
  9. Autumn hedgerows are often abundant so take a bag just in case you fancy a bit of foraging
  10. If you’re navigating by phone, take a portable charger in case you’re out longer than expected


Buy your affordable train ticket today

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Train travel in the UK isn’t always as affordable as we would like but getting to the start of your walk by train is far better for the environment than getting there by car; it’s also much less hassle. If you’re looking for train fares that won’t break your leisure time budget, why not try ticket splitting?

It can often be cheaper to buy the tickets for each individual leg of your journey than for your whole trip. If this sounds like hard work, let the TrainSplit app do the job for you. Just enter your journey, then sit back and view the results. If ticket splitting can make your journey cheaper, we’ll show you how. Even better than that, we’ll let you know how much you are going to save.


Living in Devon, Fi is an outdoor writer, blogger and children’s author. She is also an Ordnance Survey Get Outside Champion and a keen walker and outdoor swimmer. For 2022, Fi has been trying to enjoy as many of usual outdoor activities as possible by train instead of by car.

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