From mid-October to mid-November Durham’s great outdoors are transformed into a colourful kaleidoscope of stunning orange, red, brown and yellow autumn colours. 

To help you find the best places to go leaf peeping this year, we’ve picked the top places in Durham to enjoy an autumn stomp, filled with crunching leaves underfoot, vibrant views and dazzling displays.

Auckland Castle Deer Park

Once the private hunting grounds of the powerful Prince Bishops, Auckland Castle Deer Park is now a peaceful park, open daily. Every autumn the historic parkland is transformed into a colourful wonderland, with family-friendly trails weaving through ancient trees across the 150 acre estate. Plus it’s a great spot for a dog walk.

Castle Eden Dene National Nature Reserve

Castle Eden Dene on the Durham Heritage Coast is a very special place, full of legend and folklore. It’s one of the UK’s last ancient wild woodlands, and throughout autumn you can enjoy magical walks through majestic yew, oak, chestnut, and ash trees. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for bright berries and funky fungi on the woodland floor too.

Durham University Botanic Garden

Soak up the rich colours of autumn with a walk round Durham University Botanic Garden, when the leaves of the garden's rare trees and plants take on stunning tinted colours.  

Durham City Riverbanks

Take a wander along the city’s riverbanks this autumn and you’ll be repaid with stunning views of Durham's UNESCO World Heritage Site cloaked in golden autumn sunshine and a vivid array of autumnal hues reflected in the glassy River Wear below. With plenty of benches along the way, you’ll find lots of Instagram-worthy viewpoints.

Hamsterley Forest

Hamsterley Forest’s 2000 hectares of woodland are spectacular all year round, but there’s something extra atmospheric about them in autumn. Journey deep into the forest following waymarked trails to discover a patchwork of autumnal shades.

Hardwick Park

Find burnt orange and golden brown leaves in abundance at Hardwick Park. This historic park is dotted with ancient ruins and artwork amongst big, beautiful trees and plants. Explore woodland floors covered in leaves ideal for kicking and cosy spots to simply sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

High Force Waterfall

High Force Waterfall must be one of the most photographed natural wonders in the UK, especially during autumn when the surrounding landscapes turn technicolour, with an incredible display of golds, pinks, glowing reds and vibrant yellows. The family-friendly woodland walk along the banks of the River Tees is a short walk (great for those little legs) which brings you out at the base of the mighty waterfall. If you fancy a bird’s eye view of the waterfall, you can detour via the Pennine Way and take in even more stunning autumn scenes along the way.

Low Force Waterfall

A short walk from Bowlees Visitor Centre you’ll find Low Force Waterfall, where the surrounding woodlands and foliage glow red, orange, and yellow under the golden autumn sun. It’s one of our all-time favourite autumn views and a definite must-visit spot during the autumn season. 

For those wanting to explore a little further we recommend extending your visit to Low Force by following the High Force and Bowlees Geotrail, which is a 5-mile circular walk where you’ll be rewarded with miles of glorious colours and absolutely stunning views of the Durham Dales countryside, High Force Waterfall and Summerhill Force, hidden within Gibson's Cave. 

Raby Castle, Park and Gardens

The season of autumn sets Raby Castle’s park and gardens aglow, as vibrant colours cover the estate. Soak up the autumnal landscape and let your imagination take you back to a time gone by, as you wander through the ancient deer park and walled gardens. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of migrating birds resting by the castle’s lake, or witness the spectacular rutting display from the castle’s resident deer. 

Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens

Quiet and off the beaten track, on the outskirts of Durham City - Ushaw, Historic House, Chapels and Gardens is a great spot for a warming autumn walk. Accessible trails wind through the 500-acre estate's woodland and gardens, filled with diverse autumnal colours.

Wharton Park

Wharton Park in Durham City is one colourful park as autumn takes over. Here you can stroll through the beautifully landscaped grounds and get a stellar view of Durham City below. Plus throughout autumn you’ll find a whole host of seasonal family-friendly activities to enjoy.

Other top autumn colours and leaves spots to check out across the county include -  

For more autumnal inspiration visit our dedicated autumn breaks page. 




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