Autumn is an enchanting time across Scotland; the leaves turn from luscious green to rich red, gold and fiery orange, there is no better time to explore the country’s vast woodland in the crisp air before curling up in front of a crackling fire with a wee dram or a warming hot chocolate. From stargazing on the islands, enchanted forests in Perthshire, a storytelling festival in the city and stunning forest parks, autumn 2019 in the most beautiful country in the world is a truly magical time.
A hive of activity throughout the summer season, autumn on Scotland’s islands is the perfect escape for those looking for a cosy break to re-charge the batteries before winter sets in. A blanket of reds, golds and oranges lies across the islands and the darker skies glitter with the light of the bright stars.
The Isle of Coll is a designated Dark Sky Island. With little to no light pollution the island is one of the best places in the UK to view the inky night sky and autumn is the perfect time to experience this beautiful natural phenomenon, with the added bonus of spotting a star or two. Alternatively, set off in search of the Northern Lights this autumn and head to the most northerly island group in Scotland, Shetland. With the right conditions, the ‘mirrie dancers’ are most commonly seen from mid-October until mid-March.
Autumn is a wonderful time to visit Lewis and Harris as the islands’ world-renowned beaches are likely to be quieter. Head to beaches such as Luskentyre, Seilebost and Hushinish to stroll along pure white sands and breathe in fresh sea air.
Shetland Wool Week
September 28-October 6 2019, Shetland (various venues)
Shetland Wool Week is a world-renowned celebration of Britain’s most northerly native sheep, the Shetland textile industry and the rural farming community on these islands. Events for locals and visitors include workshops and demonstrations; a place of pilgrimage.
For more information visit shetlandwoolweek.com
Vogrie Fire & Light Adventure
September 2019, Vogrie Country Park, Midlothian
Be immersed in a magical world where fiery mayhem meets incredible light in this brand new interactive journey at Vogrie Country Park. From dazzling light installations and blazing fire performances to jaw-dropping flame throwers, surprises can be found around every corner. Woodland creatures of all shapes and sizes will appear throughout the walk so explorers will want to keep their eyes peeled for this friendly bunch. Visitors exploring the woods this September are certainly in for a big surprise!
For more information visit vogriefirelight.co.uk
Growing Stories – Scottish International Storytelling Festival
October 18-31 2019, Edinburgh (various venues)
Enchanting performances, workshops, talks and events centred around traditional storytelling in Edinburgh. This celebration of live oral traditions and cultural diversity brings together Scottish and international storytellers and musicians, to celebrate rhythms and methods of storytelling. The 31st Scottish International Storytelling Festival feeds the creativity of Scottish and international storytellers to unearth ancient roots and make new talent blossom across Scotland.
At the heart of the programme is the shared culture of Scotland and Ireland, with their international connections and influence, and the way in which Celtic traditions unite word, image and sound to pack a big emotional punch.
For more information visit sisf.org.uk
September 27-29 2019, Cowal Peninsula, Argyll
Based in Dunoon on the Firth of Clyde, this year’s festival will run in September with its usual varied and exciting range of carefully graded walks to suit all ages, interests and ability. Fourteen new walks are included alongside old favourites with transport being provided as necessary. The walk leaders and organisers of CowalFest are all volunteers who are keen for others to enjoy the magnificence of the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll.
For more information visit cowalfest.org
Scottish Tree Festival
Discover Scottish Gardens’ Scottish Tree Festival which runs from September to December. The festival will feature more than 70 tree events taking place across the country. Showcasing beautiful, unusual, heritage, exotic and champion trees from across Scotland, the festival culminates in the UK’s National Tree Week.
The Festival has also inspired participation from the National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, all of whom will be putting their best branch forward in celebration of Scotland’s amazing trees.
For more information visit visitscotland.com
Glentrool, Dumfries & Galloway
Wanderers can get lost amongst the trees for an hour or two and gaze out across the tranquil waters of Loch Trool. Part of Galloway Forest Park, the UK’s first dark sky park, stay until night falls at Glentrool and wonder at the magic of a sky studded with thousands of stars.
Glentrool is accessible at any time with Glentrool Visitor Centre open 10.30am until 4.30pm daily.
For more information visit scotland.forestry.gov.uk
The Enchanted Forest
October 3-November 3 2019, Perth and Kinross
The Enchanted Forest returns to Faskally Wood this autumn. This show is firmly rooted in nature highlighting the natural wonders all around and is inspired by the hidden beauty of the wild forest after dark. This spectacular event combines breath-taking visuals, state-of-the-art technologies and a rousing music score that fuses contemporary with traditional. Visitors can follow the winding trail past the mysterious Loch Dunmore deeper into the woods where they will come alive after dark with sights, sounds and scents guaranteed to enchant the senses and surprise curious minds.
For more information visit enchantedforest.org.uk
Dawyck Botanic Garden, Scottish Borders
Take in the fiery colours at Dawyck Botanic Garden as well as the autumn fruits; from acorns to crab apples, maple keys to fir cones and everyone’s favourites, the conkers produced by the horse chestnut trees. The Garden is a feast for all the senses; make sure to stop by the large Japanese Katsure tree to enjoy its gorgeous caramel scent.
Adult £7.00, concession £6.00, child (15 and under) free. Includes voluntary donation. Standard adult £6.30, standard concession £5.40. Opening times 2019: Daily February 1-November 30, March and October 10.00am to 5.00pm, April to September 10.00am to 6.00pm, February and November 10.00am to 4.00pm.
For more information visit rbge.org.uk
Killin, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
Fuelled by the autumn rain, the Falls of Dochart make for a sound and sight spectacular as the water cascades over the rocks and under the bridge. Follow part of the 12-mile route from Killin to Ardtalnaig, along the famous Rob Roy Way, for views over the head of Loch Tay towards the Tarmachan Ridge and Ben Lawers range.
Access the Falls of Dochart for free all year round.
For more information visit visitscotland.com
Fairy Glen, Rosemarkie, Black Isle
If spotting dolphins at Chanonry Point off the Black Isle wasn’t magical enough, ‘leaf-peepers’ can indulge in the magic of autumn colours on a walk at Fairy Glen in Rosemarkie. With two picturesque waterfalls, the Fairy Glen was once the scene of a well-dressing ceremony, where the children of the village decorated a pool, next to a spring, with flowers. It was believed that this would ensure the fairies kept the water supply clean.
For more information visit rspb.org.uk
The Hermitage, Perthshire
Take a wander around this landscaped, almost cathedral-like, wooded grove of towering trees overlooking the spectacular falls of the River Braan. Perched high above is the delightfully restored Georgian folly of Ossian’s Hall, the perfect spot from which to spy red squirrels and salmon leaping up the falls. The Hermitage is open all year round and access is free of charge.
For more information visit nts.org.uk