Oh, autumn, how we love thee! The season of wrapping up, conkers, fireworks, bonfires and, of course, the gorgeous fiery colours that ignite the landscape.
Here are 5 suggestions for things to do during your self-catering holiday in Scotland this autumn – and ideas of where to stay to enjoy these highlights.
Go for a woodland walk
There are many beautiful places to soak up the autumn scenery in Scotland but you can’t beat a woodland walk. From the ancient pine forest of Rothiemurchas in the Cairngorms National Park to Glen Affric in the Highlands there are a number of incredibly scenic forested areas that beg to be explored in the autumn months. Known as Big Tree Country it’s no surprise that Perthshire is a popular destination for autumn breaks. Make sure to visit the Hermitage, in the care of the National Trust of Scotland and home to one of the country’s tallest trees, as well as hidden gems such as Glen Lyon – described by one of our holiday cottage owners as ‘one of the most scenic glens in Scotland… the autumn is a special time, with colours rivalling New England’.
The Hermitage, Rothimurchas Forest and Glen Affric are also ideal for exploring by bike.
Accommodation idea: North and South Mill at Meikle Trochry, 19th century mill cottages, 3.5 miles from Dunkeld and close to the Hermitage.
Visit an Enchanted Forest
It’s true that Scotland’s woodlands are a magical place to be but one forest is particularly enchanting in autumn. The Enchanted Forest is an award-winning light and sound show near Pitlochry in Perthshire and a wonderful event for all the family to enjoy. This year Faskally Woods are set to Shimmer, transformed as always into an illuminated world that dances and sings with colour and sound. Take a look at photos from a previous show and get your tickets to this year’s event – tickets sell quickly so make sure to book early to avoid disappointment.
Accommodation idea: Dalshian Scottish Chalets, 1.5 miles from Pitlochry, still with availability for October at the time of posting, please check availability with owners. Sleeps 6.
Turn your eyes to the skies
Scotland is a great holiday choice if you love stargazing, with some of the darkest skies in Europe. The Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park is the UK’s first Dark Sky Park and there are Dark Sky information points at the park’s three visitor centres as well as a number of other sites. You will also find the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory near Dalmellington on the edge of the Forest Park.
In the Cairngorms National Park the Crown Estate’s Glenlivet Estate has also recently been made a Dark Sky Discovery Site.
You don’t need to be in the countryside to enjoy the dark autumn skies – in Dundee you’ll find The Mills Observatory, Britain’s first purpose-built public observatory, where you can view stars and planets through the computerised telescope.
Accommodation idea: Auld Mission Cottage, Isle of Skye, 1 mile from Stein, close to three of the nine Dark Skye Discovery Sites. Sleeps 4.
Get up close with wildlife
Experience Scotland’s wild side during your self-catering stay – you may even be lucky enough to spot some local wildlife from your holiday accommodation. One of the autumn highlights in Scotland is the red deer rut, with various tour providers running red deer safaris, such as Glenlivet Wildlife and Fort William based Wild West Safari. You can get up close with red deer at the Highland Safaris Red Deer Centre, the Galloway Forest Park Red Deer Centre and at a ranger-led activity at the Rothiemurchas Estate (where you can also go on a Red Squirrel Safari).
In Dumfries and Galloway a number of events will take place as part of the Wild Seasons Autumn Festival, such as Stars and Stripes Badger Watching and Autumn Migration.
Accommodation idea: Glenview Cottages, 13 miles from Dumfries and near the Galloway Forest Park. Situated in a picturesque clearing in its own woodland, with their own herd of red deer. Sleeps 6.
Savour Scotland’s autumn larder
The colours of autumn are not just restricted to the landscape, of course; why not eat your way through an autumn palette of redcurrants, plums, brambles, squash and pumpkin? There are plenty of farm shops and fruit farms across the country where you can pick your own home-grown autumn produce (perfect for a self-catering holiday) such as pumpkins, brambles, gooseberries, red/blackcurrants, tayberries, apples, plums and pears.
With the woodlands full of brambles, berries and mushrooms it’s also an ideal time for wild foraging (make sure you stick to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and the Scottish Wild Mushroom Code). Or you could book yourself a place on an Autumn Fungi and Wild Food Foraging Walk (in Caithness and Argyll at the beginning of October) with Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods. The walks take 3 hours and provide information on identifying, harvesting (responsibly), cooking and preserving wild foods.
Accommodation idea: Taigh-An-Clachair Self Catering Cottage, 14 miles from Wick and close to Dunbeath, the location of the Caithness Foraging Walk with Galloway Wild Foods. Sleeps 3.
Inspired? Browse these holiday offers for autumn breaks in Scotland.