Autumn is an enchanting time across Scotland; the leaves turn from luscious green to rich red, gold and fiery orange, there is no better time to explore the country’s vast woodland in the crisp air before curling up in front of a crackling fire with a wee dram or a warming hot chocolate.
From stargazing on the islands, enchanted forests in Perthshire, a storytelling festival in the city and stunning forest parks, autumn in the most beautiful country in the world* is a truly magical time.
A hive of activity throughout the summer season, autumn on Scotland’s islands is the perfect escape for those looking for a cosy break to re-charge the batteries before winter sets in. A blanket of reds, golds and oranges lies across the islands and the darker skies glitter with the light of the bright stars.
The Isle of Coll is a designated Dark Sky Island. With little to no light pollution the island is one of the best places in the UK to view the inky night sky and autumn is the perfect time to experience this beautiful natural phenomenon, with the added bonus of spotting a star or two. Alternatively, set off in search of the Northern Lights this autumn and head to the most northerly island group in Scotland, Shetland. With the right conditions, the ‘mirrie dancers’ are most commonly seen from mid-October until mid-March.
Autumn is a wonderful time to visit Lewis and Harris as the islands’ world-renowned beaches are likely to be quieter. Head to beaches such as Luskentyre, Seilebost and Hushinish to stroll along pure white sands and breathe in fresh sea air.
Shetland Wool Week
23 September– 30 September, Shetland (various venues)
Shetland Wool Week is a world-renowned celebration of Britain’s most northerly native sheep, the Shetland textile industry and the rural farming community on these islands. Events for locals and visitors include workshops and demonstrations; a place of pilgrimage for those in the know.
Orkney Storytelling Festival
25-28 October, Orkney (Various Venues)
The Orkney Storytelling Festival is a long weekend of oral storytelling. Organised by the Orcadian Story Trust, it has become an established annual event in the Orkney calendar since its re-emergence in 2010. The festival events take place in locations across Orkney. Alongside local storytellers, both beginners and the experienced, the festival brings invited guests to the isles from all over the world and events are suitable for all the family.
Find out more about autumn breaks on Scotland’s islands here: https://www.visitscotland.com/blog/islands/autumn-break-ideas/
Vogrie Fire & Light Adventure
24 September-28 September, Vogrie Country Park, GorebridgeBe immersed in a magical world where fiery mayhem meets incredible light in this brand new interactive journey at Vogrie Country Park. From dazzling light installations and blazing fire performances to jaw-dropping flame throwers, surprises can be found around every corner. Woodland creatures of all shapes and sizes will appear throughout the walk so explorers will want to keep their eyes peeled for this friendly bunch. Visitors exploring the woods this September are certainly in for a big surprise!
The Enchanted Forest
Thursday 4 October–Sunday 4 November 2018, Pitlochry
The Enchanted Forest returns to Faskally Wood this autumn. This year’s atmospheric show, Of The Wild, is firmly rooted in nature highlighting the natural wonders all around and is inspired by the hidden beauty of the wild forest after dark. This spectacular event combines breath-taking visuals, state-of-the-art technologies and a rousing music score that fuses contemporary with traditional. Visitors can follow the winding trail past the mysterious Loch Dunmore deeper into the woods where they will come alive after dark with sights, sounds and scents guaranteed to enchant the senses and surprise curious minds.
CowalFest Argyll 2018
5-12 October, Cowal Peninsula, Argyll
Based in Dunoon on the Firth of Clyde, this year’s festival will run from Friday 5 to Friday 12 October (inclusive) with its usual varied and exciting range of carefully graded walks to suit all ages, interests and ability. Fourteen new walks are included alongside old favourites with transport being provided as necessary. The walk leaders and organisers of CowalFest are all volunteers who are keen for others to enjoy the magnificence of the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll.
Growing Stories- Scottish International Storytelling Festival
19-31 October, Edinburgh (various venues)
Enchanting performances, workshops, talks and events centred around traditional storytelling. This celebration of live oral traditions and cultural diversity brings together Scottish and international storytellers and musicians, to celebrate rhythms and methods of storytelling. The 30th Scottish International Storytelling Festival feeds the creativity of Scottish and international storytellers to unearth ancient roots and make new talent blossom across Scotland. At the heart of the programme is the shared culture of Scotland and Ireland, with their international connections and influence, and the way in which Celtic traditions unite word, image and sound to pack a big emotional punch.
Scotland’s first tree festival
30 September – 2 December, nationwide
Discover Scottish Gardens’ inaugural Scottish Tree Festival will run from 30 September to 2 December. The festival will feature more than 70 tree events taking place across the country. Showcasing beautiful, unusual, heritage, exotic and champion trees from across Scotland, the festival culminates in the UK’s National Tree Week (24th Nov – 2nd Dec). The Festival has also inspired participation from the National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, all of whom will be putting their best branch forward in celebration of Scotland’s amazing trees.
Fairy Glen, Rosemarkie, Black Isle
If spotting dolphins at Chanonry Point off the Black Isle wasn’t magical enough, ‘leaf-peepers’ can indulge in the magic of autumn colours on a walk at Fairy Glen in Rosemarkie. With two picturesque waterfalls, the Fairy Glen was once the scene of a well-dressing ceremony, where the children of the village decorated a pool, next to a spring, with flowers. It was believed that this would ensure the fairies kept the water supply clean.
Access: The walk follows a clear footpath throughout, with steps, and is free of charge.
The Hermitage, Perthshire
Take a wander around this landscaped, almost cathedral-like, wooded grove of towering trees overlooking the spectacular falls of the River Braan. Perched high above is the delightfully restored Georgian folly of Ossian’s Hall, the perfect spot from which to spy red squirrels and salmon leaping up the falls.
Details: The Hermitage is open all year round and access is free of charge. www.nts.org.uk/Property/Hermitage/
Killin, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
Fuelled by the autumn rain, the Falls of Dochart make for a sound and sight spectacular as the water cascades over the rocks and under the bridge. Follow part of the 12-mile route from Killin to Ardtalnaig, along the famous Rob Roy Way, for views over the head of Loch Tay towards the Tarmachan Ridge and Ben Lawers range.
Details: Access the Falls of Dochart for free all year round.
Dawyck Botanic Garden, Scottish Borders
Take in the fiery colours at Dawyck Botanic Garden as well as the autumn fruits; from acorns to crab apples, maple keys to fir cones and everyone’s favourites, the conkers produced by the horse chestnut trees. The Garden is a feast for all the senses; make sure to stop by the large Japanese Katsure tree to enjoy its gorgeous caramel scent.
Details: Adult £6.50, Concession £5.50, Child (15 and under) Free. Includes voluntary donation.
Standard Adult: £5.85, Concession £4.95
Opening times: Daily 1 February to 31 October, February and November 10.00 to 16.00, March and October 10.00 to 17.00, April to September 10.00 to 18.00
Glentrool, Dumfries & Galloway
Wanderers can get lost amongst the trees for an hour or two and gaze out across the tranquil waters of Loch Trool. Part of Galloway Forest Park, the UK’s first dark sky park, stay until night falls at Glentrool and wonder at the magic of a sky studded with thousands of stars.