In Wildlife

Leaf Peeping is the lovely American term for the very agreeable pastime of travelling to photograph and marvel over Nature’s Fireworks – when the solid green tree canopy becomes a wonderland of colour as its leaves turn scarlet, orange and gold.

Want to give it a go?

Step into our Ancient Woodlands – we have the highest concentration in Western Europe with more than 1,000 of these priceless old trees, some of which were around when Queen Elizabeth I sent out the Armada.

Our Knightwood Oak Trail has been listed as one of the UK’s best for autumn colour – Countryfile Magazine describes it as a ‘stunning’. When you’ve had your fill of the breathtaking autumn hues, pay your respects to the fabulous Knightwood Oak. At 24 feet in circumference, no wonder we call her the Queen of the Forest!

Take a stroll or a cycle through the Ornamental Drive at Rhinefield. You’ll find out - in the most glorious way - why this route, planted in 1860, is regularly listed as one of the top UK leaf peeping spots.

Beautiful colour can be found everywhere but our favourite places to look include the ancient woodland at Bratley Inclosure, Ocknell Inclosure or the walks from Stoney Cross. Mark Ash Wood near Emery Down will also not disappoint, either.

Or why not pop up to the National Trust’s Northern Commons to spot the yellow flare of birch leaves against the brooding heathlands?

Leaves change colour because the dropping temperatures and lack of sunlight cause chlorphyll in them to break down, producing the colours we love so much. This seasonal change also causes the acorns to drop from the oak trees where they are munched upon by our roaming Pannage Pigs.

Along with the pigs you should be able to spot our famous New Forest ponies, as well as our donkeys and cattle. Like our leafy fireworks, they’ll look perfect on your Insta feed!

Keep an eye out, too, for the deer and foxes that live in our woodlands as well as badgers and owls at dusk after you’ve witnessed one of our amazing autumn sunsets. Bolton’s Bench at Lyndhurst or Pipers Wait at Nomansland – at 129 metres, the highest point in the forest – are perfect for this.

Now is also the time of year to catch The Rut – male deer fighting to replace each other as ruler of their particular herd. If you do happen upon a stag fight move a good distance back from the entire herd and do NOT go up to or disturb these beasts – they can be dangerous.

Kids will love rushing through the rustling drifts of autumn leaves, or scrambling over the trunk of a fallen beech tree. Teach them how to play ‘helicopters’ with the seeds of the sycamores; throwing them skywards and watching them twirl and drop. Or hunt under the Horse chestnut trees for the last of the conkers.

Once your outing is over, don’t forget to stop by one of our cosy pubs for a pint or a hot drink and something comforting to eat whilst you warm up by the fire.

And remember – you can always bring the flavour of the New Forest autumn home with you by purchasing some New Forest Cider, or wines from our three wonderful vineyards.

- You’ll find plenty more autumn inspiration, some great pubs to visit and details of where to buy cider and wine at thenewforest.co.uk -

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