The Celtic Routes really puts on a show at the onset of autumn, bursting into a colourful and vibrant spectacle of red, amber, gold and bronze. And what better way to enjoy this beautiful time of year than on foot on an autumnal walk?
Here are some routes across the Celtic Routes that showcase autumn in all its glory.
A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Minwear Woods is located in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, near Narberth. Situated close to the Cleddau Estuary, the combination of salt and fresh water provides a varied habitat for wildlife. Keep an eye out for waterside birds like herons and kingfishers from the viewpoint over the estuary and woodland birds like great spotted woodpeckers and tree creepers. The woodland also sustains a wide range of flora. During autumn, the burnished colours of the red oaks and beech, plus the weird and wonderfully shaped fungi provide a feast for the eyes.
Wander the boardwalks at Cors Caron National Nature Reserve, a 2,000-acre area of internationally important wetland near Tregaron. The reserve includes 3 raised bogs – areas of deep peat that have built up over 12,000 years. It’s one of the finest raised bog systems in Britain. The untamed reed-beds, wet grasslands, woodland, rivers, streams and ponds sustain a variety of wildlife and the ever-changing colour-scheme of red, yellow and brown is in complete contrast to the surrounding green hills. The vast wetland is a dramatic sight at any time of year but its colours really come into their own in the autumn. Wildlife you might expect to see at this time of the year includes otters, polecats, a range of overwintering birds including sandpipers and snipes, and raptors including hen harriers and sparrowhawks.
The Tywi Valley packs in several heritage and cultural attractions, set in some of the most breath-taking scenery in Wales. Perched on a 90-metre limestone crag, the castle ruins of Carreg Cennen dominates the skyline for miles. Dryslwyn Castle sits on another rocky hill, forever associated with the princes of Deheubarth. The Elizabethan gardens of Aberglasney are a world away from the vast gardens of The National Botanic Garden, but just minutes apart. Plus, there are several National Trust properties in the area, like the Neo-Gothic Paxton’s Tower and Newton House, in the heart of the Dinefwr Estate. The valley itself comes alive in autumn with the warm browns of the rolling hills and the oranges from the woodland. Look closely and you may also spot Red Kites along your way.
Although mainly a seaside village, the 60-acre wood in Courtown provides a source of shady respite from the nearby beach. During the 1860s and 70s, James Stopford, the 5th Earl of Courtown, established a pinetum in the grounds of Courtown House. But it wasn’t just pines he was interested in and other species in his collection include a Californian redwood, swamp cypress, Japanese cedar, a cedar of Lebanon and yews, among others. Look out for a yew tree planted as part of the collection, but felled years ago, continuing to grow adjacent to the River Walk. In 1870, the woodland was planted with oak and ash at a greater distance from the house. This was fairly typical for a Victorian estate woodland; the exotic conifers and redwoods were planted within view of the house and the oaks further away.
Glendalough (Gleann Dá Loch), meaning ‘The Valley of the Two Lakes’ is a glacial valley, renowned for an early medieval monastic settlement founded in the sixth century and boasting beautiful mountainous scenery with its deep moody lakes, rushing rivers and tumbling waterfalls. Even as one of the tourism jewels in the crown of Ireland’s Ancient East, if not indeed all of Ireland, you won’t have to wander too far to find the peacefulness and spirituality that drew monks here centuries ago. Autumn is one of the finest times to visit as the deciduous trees and bracken turn rich shades of russet, orange and yellow, and the deer rut is at its height, making sightings more frequent.
Glendalough is situated along Ireland’s oldest marked walking trail, The Wicklow Way. Known as the garden of Ireland, the trail follows coastline, woodlands, imposing mountains, lakes, and spectacular gardens, scattered with elegant 18th century estates.
These imposing gothic style buildings are situated near Lismore, surrounded by dense and varied woodland walking routes and picnic areas. The magical towers provide a fairy tale-like setting, contrasting the sad history here, built in a period in Irish history where extravagance and starvation existed side by side. They were constructed for an Anglo Irish Landlord, Arthur Keily-Ussher no later than 1834. He held an estate of approximately 8000 acres, the majority of which was rented to tenant farmers, but he retained approximately 1000 acres as a personal demesne. The extravagant gate towers were the only part of the intended castle to be built, as money ran out soon after their completion.