‘An invigorating sense of wildness’: readers’ favourite autumn walks in Europe

<span>Photograph: Darko Vrcan/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Darko Vrcan/Alamy

Virgin rainforest, Montenegro

It’s hard to beat Montenegro’s big hitter for autumn colours: Biogradska Gora national park, one of Europe’s last remaining virgin rainforests. You will find numerous hiking trails under the bronze canopy, glacial lakes, very rare flora and fauna and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Once you leave the insta-fave lake near the entrance to the national park, you’ll barely see a soul all day. Stay in Kolasin, one of the local eco villages or a quirky mushroom-shaped “art” apartment.
Kate Copeland

A walk in the Black Forest, south-west Germany

Lake Schluchsee in the Black Forest.
Lake Schluchsee in the Black Forest. Photograph: Jurgen Falchle/Alamy

The Jagersteig trail at Schluchsee makes for a beautiful 7½-mile (12km) walk through the verdant pine forests of the Hochschwarzwald. The circular route includes the pretty lake town of Schluchsee, but we stayed in the picturesque Gasthof Hirschen in nearby Fischbach. Amazing views of the lake can be found at the Bildstein outcrop, with the Swiss Alps visible in the distance on a clear day. There are plenty of places to grab kaffee und kuchen in the surrounding villages, and a regional rail pass is included with your hotel booking if you stay more than two nights.

Southern comforts of the Massif Central, France

Cathar Castle at Las Tours in La Montagne Noire, Aude.
Cathar Castle at Las Tours in La Montagne Noire, Aude. Photograph: Johanne Clyne/Alamy

A visit to La Montagne Noire in the Haut-Languedoc regional park (the far south of the Massif Central) is beautiful in autumn. It feels like the last place in France with northern foliage before you hit the Mediterranean, and entire hillsides turn striking shades of red and gold. There are family-friendly strolls around the Montagnès lake, and breathtaking views from the Mazamet footbridge over the medieval town of Hautpoul. Locals can often be found hunting for mushrooms and truffles on their walks. A Languedoc classic dish such as cassoulet is the best meal after a brisk mountain hike.

Meander along the Rhine, Germany

A vineyard in the Rhine valley.
A vineyard in the Rhine valley. Photograph: Paerb/Alamy

The Rheinsteig trail runs along the eastern bank of the Rhine. We picked it up at Koblenz and follow it to Rüdesheim am Rhein, a distance of 43 miles. At times the route is challenging, rising and falling steeply. We observed the cruise ship passengers meandering along the flat river below us, sitting on deck sipping local wine. There are beautiful castles around every corner and we stayed in local vineyards each night. The last leg took us down to Rüdesheim on a thrilling chairlift ride. We refreshed ourselves with steins of beer, celebrating our autumn adventure.
Peter Beyer

Left me wanting moors, Lancashire/West Yorkshire

Rocks at the summit of Blackstone Edge.
Summit of Blackstone Edge. Photograph: Vincent Lowe/Alamy

My partner and I have just enjoyed a six-mile autumn walk on the moorlands of Calderdale. It began near Blackstone Edge reservoir, before winding along part of the Pennine Way around the wild moorlands and imposing rock formations. The scenery was stunning, with the 472-metre Blackstone Edge trig point offering views of Manchester to the south-west. It also featured a medieval waymarker the Aiggin Stone, before finishing along a stone-laid packhorse trail that may follow a Roman road.

Outlander vibe, Cairngorms

A view of Braemar. Photograph: Iain Pritchard/Alamy

Deep in Cairngorms national park, 60 miles west of Aberdeen, sits the quaint village of Braemar. If, like me you’re a fan of Outlander and want to be transported into the magic of the Highlands, Braemar will not disappoint. From the village, you can venture into the national park, where there are more lengthy and challenging trails, or simply enjoy a leisurely walk around the outskirts and end the day with a wee dram by a cosy fire. The autumnal palette of the landscape is unlike anything I have ever seen. The richness of the orange, brown and gold colours feels like a warm hug.
Abbey Ramsey

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Pooh and friends, East Sussex

Pooh Sticks Bridge, in the Ashdown Forest.
Poohsticks Bridge in the Ashdown Forest. Photograph: Tony Watson/Alamy

Ashdown Forest in the High Weald area of outstanding natural beauty is particularly atmospheric in autumn, with its pockets and clumps of ancient trees and expanses of heather and gorse sparkling in the golden light. We followed an 11-mile circular walk starting at the Kings Standing car park, taking in some of the magical spots featured in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, such as Gills Lap, Poohsticks Bridge and the 500-Acre Wood. At Hartfield village, about halfway, there are a couple of decent pubs. There were great views to the North and South Downs, some interesting bird sightings and wide-open skies.
Emma Coull

Orange and brown vistas, south-east Lake District

A path beside the River Kent in Kendal.
A path beside the River Kent in Kendal. Photograph: Nicky Beeson/Alamy

The footpaths between Staveley and Kendal make for a beautiful autumn walk. You can set off from Staveley station and head north-east up to 427-metre Potter Fell, which, although modest in height by Lake District standards, has brilliant views. From here, the colours of autumn start to reveal themselves, with the ferns dying back and distant vistas mottled with oranges and browns in the woodland stretching off below. Walking down and then south along the River Kent into Kendal, you pass through these trees and see the colours close up as the river runs by fields, woods and farms. Finishing in Kendal offers plenty of ale and hot chocolate options too. About 10 miles in total, if you include Potter Fell.

Dramatic sea views and Orkney Gold

On the coast near Yesnaby.
On the coast near Yesnaby. Photograph: Mark Ferguson/Alamy

As the season changes in Orkney, the sea appears petrol-blue and steel-grey – changing with the light and weather. There are many beautiful walks to observe this from. My favourite is the 11-mile cliffside trail from Yesnaby to the Black Craig, and down into the town of Stromness. The dramatic route is filled with endless horizons, open skies, soaring fulmars, fossils, passing cetaceans and an invigorating sense of wildness. The untamed weather must be embraced and observed, so be prepared for anything! You can finish the day with a pint of Orkney Gold in the pub when you reach your destination.

WINNING TIP: Waterfall in the woods, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Kravica waterfall.
Kravica waterfall. Photograph: Marcin Jucha/Alamy

Avoiding peak season, I travelled across the Croatian border in late October to pay a visit to what is arguably one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s best-kept secrets. Kravica waterfall, on the Trebižat River, is much smaller but equally as breathtaking as the Plitviče Lakes falls in neighbouring Croatia. No less appealing, this beauty spot in the Balkans packs quite the punch, as I witnessed for myself in the autumnal glow, the many pools and cascading falls encompassed by russet tones from surrounding vegetation. A truly enchanting escape, enjoyed from the water or admired from afar, the falls are a must-see trip from Mostar or Dubrovnik.

Please use the comments to share details of great autumnal walks you’ve been on