I love autumn. They weren’t wrong when they said it’s the “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”. There’s something special about a walk in the crisp autumnal air with your dog snuffling through the leaves at your feet. Nuts and acorns abound and this in turn drives my dog nuts as every now and then she stops to focus every fibre in her being on spotting hard-working squirrels in the trees. It’s her own version of Autumnwatch – yes it’s without Kate Humble and Chris Packham but with no less enthusiasm.
To help your dog in its quest to find squirrels, here are my recommendations for the most spectacular autumn foliage that Britain has to offer that you can enjoy right now with your four-legged friend.
You can’t beat an arboretum in autumn. For the uninitiated it’s basically a collection of rare trees and a perfect place to hang out and watch the seasons shift.
There’s an opulent pallet of leaves of gold, bronze, red and purple reflected in the lake at Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey. Thorp Perrow Arboretum in the Yorkshire Dales is home to one of the finest collections of trees and shrubs in the country. Batsford Arboretum in the Cotswolds is one of my favourite haunts. The technicolour range of autumn hues is unsurpassed and the fancy new tearoom has a terrific terrace where you can sip tea with your dog.
The National Trust can be a bit sniffy when it comes to dogs. I understand why muddy paws aren’t allowed inside the posh old houses but their downer on dogs often also extends to the gardens as well. That said, there are some National Trust estates that are full of mature trees and well worth a visit with your dog at the moment for their autumn colour. My favourite parkland visits are:
Ashridge Estate, on the border of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, has ancient oak trees in the parkland and woods that turn a warm golden hue and a two mile wildlife trail. Some of the oldest trees in England can be seen in Calke Abbey, Derbyshire and there are some great woodland walks and a famous avenue of oak trees in Gibside Landscape Park, Northumberland.
My favourite dog friendly gardens to visit in the autumn also have stunning foliage and are large enough to enjoy a decent walkies.
Exbury Gardens in the New Forest National Park has a special autumn trail to lead you to the best of the season’s colour. Minterne Gardens in Dorset has waterfalls and streams and is famous for its Japanese Maples and outstanding autumn foliage. Ardkinglas Woodland Gardens and Ardmaddy Castle Garden, both in Argyll in Scotland, are renowned for their exceptional colour at this time of year.
In my opinion a walk without a dog is at best a wasted opportunity and at worst a completely pointless activity. So wrap up warmly and lead the way into this
amazing season with your best friend at your side. Who knows, your dog may even
spot that all important squirrel…
Find more places to visit with your dog at www.roverrecommended.com