The crunch of red and golden leaves underfoot can only mean one thing: autumn is here. Now that the summer sun has settled, what greater time to lace-up your walking boots and pursue a seasonal stomp at one of these five outdoor spaces in the UK – all of which can be reached by train. From a botanical wonder in Scotland, to a medieval fortress in Kent, here’s where to head on your next railway day-trip adventure.
The Malvern Hills
Railway day trip: Worcester to Hereford
Your stop: Great Malvern
Trains for Hereford depart from Worcester Foregate Street station, which is located in the city centre and built on a viaduct. After leaving Foregate Street, trains soon cross the River Severn before heading off southwest across the Teme Valley; where the lure of the Malvern Hills captivates train travellers. Alight at Great Malvern station (built in 1862, the station with its decorated awning pillars has survived virtually unchanged) and begin your ramble to the Worcestershire Beacon – just one of many walks boasting breathtaking views across multiple counties. A short, stiff, hike from the charming town centre up St Ann’s Road will soon turn into a stony trail and lead you to the highest point of the Malvern Hills.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
Railway day trip: Glasgow to Edinburgh
Your stop: Edinburgh Waverley
This day trip from Scotland’s largest city to its capital is along the Shotts Line, the most southerly of the 3 railway routes that link the two cities. Your journey to Edinburgh Waverley will take you through beautiful open country followed by city suburbs before arriving at Waverley, which is set in a steep, narrow valley between the medieval Old Town and the 18th century New Town. The Royal Botanic Gardens are just over 1-mile away, making it an easy walk on a pleasant autumnal day. Once there, you’ll discover a history dating back more than 350 years with a bounty of beautiful landscape, flora and fauna to explore.
Railway day trip: Tunbridge Wells West to Hever
Your stop: Hever
This delightfully short train journey is currently only running on Saturdays from April to October, but the destination of Hever Castle is well worth the effort. The first part of the journey is along the Spa Valley Railway from Tunbridge Wells West station to Eridge. Passengers then board a northbound train at Eridge for Hever, which has a journey time of just 15-minutes. Once at the station, a 20-minute walk will take visitors to the attractive village of Hever and its castle via the signposted Eden Valley Walk. In the autumn, the castle looks majestic and romantic in equal measure as the Boston Ivy that adorns its front turns a striking shade of red.
Railway day trip: Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog
Your stop: Betws-y-coed
This single-track railway along the scenic Conwy and Lledr valleys leads travellers to the heart of the Snowdonia National Park before hugging the forested west bank to Betws-y-Coed. Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to the number of walks available from this idyllic village and better yet, an autumnal ramble can begin the minute passengers arrive at the station. Enjoy a pretty, circular walk along the River Llugy and the River Conwy or branch further afield with a trek to the otherworldly Sarn Helen – Wales’ iconic stretch of ancient Roman road.
Prior Park Landscape Garden
Railway day trip: London Paddington to Bath Spa
Your stop: Bath Spa
The approach to Bath from London extends along a low viaduct giving magnificent views of the city, before the railway finally crosses the River Avon at the eastern end of the station. From here it is a short walk into the city centre, or, for those looking to stretch their legs, a visit to the National Trust Prior Park Landscape Garden is a must. Boasting phenomenal views of the city and playing home to one of only four Palladian bridges of this design in the world that can be crossed, this glorious spot is a must for anyone who loves to explore the great outdoors.
Discover more day trip excursions by train in Julian Holland’s books Railway Day Trips, which is out now in paperback and available to buy online and from all good book shops.