The best places to go for autumnal scenery in Devon

PUBLISHED: 16:19 27 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:42 27 September 2019

Watersmeet

Watersmeet

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As trees across Devon turn rustic shades of red, yellow and golden brown, SUSIE KEARLEY explores some of the best places to immerse yourself in autumnal scenery

Exmoor is a stunner in the autumn, as trees and landscapes take on a rustic glow. Vibrant colours bring the countryside to life, with warm colours, wild berries and fascinating fungi along woodland paths and streams.

The Tarr Steps are a great location for autumn colours, with deciduous trees in the wooded valley creating a mosaic of striking hues. Watersmeet in Lynmouth is where the East Lyn River meets Hoar Oak Water. Trees tower over the valley, creating an enchanting area of unspoilt woodlands and waters.

The Tarr Steps are a great location for autumn coloursThe Tarr Steps are a great location for autumn colours

Walk along the riverside to immerse yourself in the spectacular autumn colours, and set amongst the trees you'll find Watersmeet's café, shop, a small cave and a stunning waterfall.

Knightshayes Court near Tiverton has glorious autumnal gardens, full of unusual trees and exotic plants.

Knightshayes Court has glorious autumnal gardens, full of unusual trees and exotic plantsKnightshayes Court has glorious autumnal gardens, full of unusual trees and exotic plants

Over 1,200 plant species adorn the estate, many bursting with vibrant colour. Follow paths through the woodlands and parkland, looking for interesting fungi, autumn berries and wildlife. Knighthayes' four-acre kitchen garden is ripe for harvesting in the autumn - you can sample the produce in the Stables Café.

A La Ronde near Lympstone, Exmouth, is a quirky 18th-century hexadecagonal home with 16 sides. It once belonged to two eccentric sisters who collected arts and treasures from around Europe. It's full of antiques and curiosities, including witch balls, a shell gallery, and feather freezes on the walls.

The gardens and meadow at A La Ronde come alive with autumn coloursThe gardens and meadow at A La Ronde come alive with autumn colours

The sisters opened it to the public, to help them pay their bills. Outside, the gardens and meadow come alive with autumn colours, and much of the floral garden is still in bloom in September.

Killerton House in Broadclyst is one of the National Trust's largest estates, with a farm, glorious parkland, and an Iron Age hill fort with views across the Exe Valley.

The Killerton House estate turns a warm shade of rustic red, golden brown, and yellow in the autumnThe Killerton House estate turns a warm shade of rustic red, golden brown, and yellow in the autumn

The estate turns a warm shade of rustic red, golden brown, and yellow in the autumn, and seasonal events include a cider festival, guided walks, and farmers markets.

Dartmoor's sweeping hills and valleys, rivers and streams, glorious landscapes, tors, and ancient prehistoric settlements make it one of the most fascinating and beautiful parts of Devon. In the autumn, it's particularly stunning, with golden leaves making patterns on the forest floor.

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Within the Dartmoor landscape you'll find Castle Drogo, Lydford Gorge, Dartmeet, Postbridge, babbling brooks and fabulous walks. Soak up the beauty of the countryside, visit the villages and enjoy the scenery. Getting outdoors is good for you!

Arlington Court near Barnstaple, was once owned by the wealthy Chichester family. Today it's a museum with model ships, seashells, and curios inside. Outside, the gardens are fantastic, with a Wilderness Walk through colourful woodlands. The route follows a stream, passing a large pond and a walled vegetable garden which supplies the café.

The gardens are fantastic at Arlington CourtThe gardens are fantastic at Arlington Court

The walks are reasonably gentle and there's an estate church, a formal Victorian Garden, and the National Trust's carriage collection in a museum beside the stables.

The Garden House, near Tavistock, is set in a glorious valley and has inspired many green-fingered visitors with its ten acres of beautifully kept outdoor 'rooms'.

The Garden House is set in a glorious valleyThe Garden House is set in a glorious valley

Visit the Walled Garden set against the ruins of a medieval vicarage, the Dutch Summer Garden, the Spring Garden, the Acer Glade, the Wildflower and Bulb Meadows, the Cottage Garden and the two-acre arboretum.

There are over 6,000 plant varieties to admire, exotic planting schemes, a beautiful lake and pretty bridges. It's a great place to soak up the autumn scenery with a picnic in the sunshine.

Knightshayes Court has glorious autumnal gardens, full of unusual trees and exotic plantsKnightshayes Court has glorious autumnal gardens, full of unusual trees and exotic plants

Amazing autumn colours can be seen across the Devon countryside.

Other places to visit include Saltram House and Gardens, Compton Castle in its wooded riverside location, Rosemoor Garden, Castle Hill Gardens, Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, Coleton Fishacre, or Burrow Farm's landscaped gardens in East Devon, which have unusual shrubs and flowers leading down to a lake.

The Killerton House estate turns a warm shade of rustic red, golden brown, and yellow in the autumnThe Killerton House estate turns a warm shade of rustic red, golden brown, and yellow in the autumn

Spending Time in Nature is Good for You

Last year the University of East Anglia published a review of studies, saying that spending time in nature is good for people's health. They looked at over 140 studies from 20 countries.

"We found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with diverse and significant health benefits," said lead author Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett.

"It reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration. People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress".

The review confirmed long held beliefs that spending time in green spaces can boost your mood, relieve stress and anxiety, and is good for your physical health.

Did you know?

As trees prepare for cold winter months ahead, they start to change. The short days don't provide enough sunlight for photosynthesis to occur, so during the autumn, trees start to lose the levels of chlorophyll in their leaves.

Chlorophyll makes plants green, so when the levels dip, other colours in the leaves become more prominent. Antioxidant compounds naturally present in the leaves include flavonoids, carotenoids and anthocyanins.

These elements are responsible for the bright colours that we see in autumn - indeed, they're the same compounds that colour our fruits and vegetables, making carrots and pumpkins orange!

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