Where to leaf-peep this autumn

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Ah, autumn. It’s what makes the end of summer bearable, with all it brings: the new season’s collections in lovely fabrics and grown-up colours, nostalgia for new terms and new shoes, and, best of all, hillsides painted fiery red and gold.

Leaf-peeping is what the Americans call it. We don’t have a term for it, other than simply looking at trees, kicking through leaves and taking long walks in the countryside. New England is probably the most famous place in the world for leaf-peeping, but you can go anywhere to appreciate the romance of nature in autumn.

Here are a few suggestions of the most beautiful places to be during October, each with a wonderful place to stay nearby.

  • Where to leaf-peep this autumn

    Vermont, New England

    Autumn starts in the north in September and spreads redly south through New England, the north-easternmost corner of the USA which is made up of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

    Vermont, the USA’s equivalent of the Cotswolds, must be the most famous place in the world to leaf-peep (we probably have them to thank for the phrase); so stunning is the season here that a quarter of the state’s income is from the influx of tourists come to witness and photograph its maples, beech and aspen as they explode into colour every October. It’s a great time to come for food, too: apples are harvested, pumpkins are made into pies and jack-o-lanterns, and organic farm produce is available at country stores all over the state; stop off at The Vermont Country Store in Weston.

    STAY

    The Woodstock Inn & Resort is a charming place that belies its humble name, and which was founded by the Rockefellers. (woodstockinn.com)

    See our guide to Cape Cod, USA: an all-American escape

    Cape Cod: An all-American escape

  • Where to leaf-peep this autumn

    Autumn in the Lake District

    It is hard to imagine a better place to see autumn leaves in the UK than the Lake District on a sunny day: whole mountainsides and valleys of trees and bracken turning every shade from gold to red, reflected in the lakes. Rydal Water, pictured, was one of Wordsworth’s favourite places to leaf-peep, from his vantage point at the western end of the lake; no wonder he was moved to write, rather more eloquently, of the ‘pensive beauty autumn shows’ in his Thought on the Seasons.

    STAY

    Cumbria’s first real boutique luxury hotel, Gilpin Hotel and Lake House is just outside Windermere and about six miles from Rydal Water and Ambleside. thegilpin.co.uk

    Read the Lake District: an insider’s guide

    The best of the Lake District

  • Where to leaf-peep this autumn

    Autumn in the Bavarian Alps

    In winter the skiing is excellent here; in autumn, however, the temperatures are warmer, the prices lower and the views colourful and just as spectacular. This is Brothers Grimm fairytale country, with copper-turreted castles rising out of the red and green alpine forests, hidden gorges and lakes with not a soul around for miles.

    STAY

    Schloss Elmau is a 20th-century castle hidden in the mountains, which has been updated and recreated as a 21st-century, five-star retreat.schloss-elmau.de

    Read our full review of Schloss Elmau, Germany

    Schloss Elmau, Bavaria – spa review

  • Where to leaf-peep this autumn

    Leaf-peeping in Canada

    Over the border from New England, the provinces of south-east Canada offer similarly fabulous fall scenery – and are often cheaper alternatives for travellers. Visitors can take walking tours and go birdwatching among the crimson and orange of the maples and aspens, tamaracks and oak, in the warmth of the last of the summer sun; or drive the Cabot Trail around Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island.


    STAY

    Hire a cottage in Ontario’s wilderness, take an or, for urbanites, go for a city break with the option of day trips to the forests in Toronto.

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