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Scotland in the Fall - tips for seeing our autumn colours

Scotland in the Fall, or autumn as we call it, is a great time to visit. But when will the colours be at their peak?

Scotland in The Fall

Scotland in The Fall, or Scotland in autumn, is a good time to visit. All of the tourism literature you are likely to read suggests this. (Note here: I'm not actually saying it's the very best time to visit! That all depends...) In fact, Scotland in The Fall appears to have been invented for the benefit of aspiring tourism copywriters to use as an exercise in over-description.

In short, it's when " the stunning scenery is further complemented by a wild array of resplendent ochres, reds, golds and russets..." Yes, yes - we know. You don't have to tell us every shade. Or maybe you do if you are Scotland's main tourism agency.

So, as for the colours of Scotland in the Fall, let's just take it as red (ho-ho) that if you time it right, you'll see some fine autumn shades, not just in the woodlands, but also the moors and fields.

There's a fall colours gallery towards the foot of this page, if you want to see some typical autumn days here in Scotland.

Scotland in autumn - west of Comrie, Perthshire. Picture dated November 2 that year.  Hmm, probably around peak time - but so hard to generalise.

Scotland in autumn - west of Comrie, Perthshire. Picture dated November 2 that year.  Hmm, probably around peak time - but so hard to generalise.

Autumn colour in Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Gardens

Autumn colour in Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Gardens

Your autumn tour of Scotland

You could start in Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Gardens (pictured here), though further down is a picture taken up in the moorland of the Pentland Hills, just a few miles from the city - by way of a reminder that Fall color in Scotland isn't just about trees. You may even prefer the subtlety of the tweedy shades.

Also, as you will see if you browse the wee gallery further down the page, autumn in Scotland is as much about quality of light as it is about displays of leaf color.

No, wait, who am I trying to kid? Everyone loves the leaves!

Edinburgh's Pentland Hills in autumn

Edinburgh's Pentland Hills in autumn

Perthshire - great for autumn colours

(Autumn colour or fall color - you know what I mean!) From the Edinburgh area head up to Perthshire. The picture below shows the valley of the River Earn between Crieff and Comrie in Perthshire. The pleasant little town of Comrie is a good centre if you care to tour west Perthshire, away from the 'A9 corridor', the main road northwards. Having said that you will find plenty of autumn trees colouring up at places like Dunkeld, on the River Tay, or Blairgowrie further east.


Autumn colour overkill - the Enchanted Forest at Pitlochry

No, not an alien encounter in the woods. It's the Enchanted Forest at Pitlochry.

No, not an alien encounter in the woods. It's the Enchanted Forest at Pitlochry.

If daylight tints of foliage and field are not quite enough, then you could always try the Enchanted Forest, held every year at Pitlochry, Perthshire, for most of the month of October. It's basically a very fancy sound and light show.

Very fancy indeed and much enjoyed by enthusiasts of that sort of thing. Tough luck if you're a wee bird trying to get a bit of shut-eye at the night time roost. And the owls have to wear sun-glasses. But, hey, it's an award-winning spectacle and especially suited to families with young-ish children.

Autumn on Royal Deeside

In fact, as an alternative to the A9, you could have a little Highland adventure by taking the A93 north of Blairgowrie by way of Glenshee and The Cairnwell. At the watershed, (a mere) 2198ft / 670m, it's still the highest 'A-class' or main road in Scotland. But the point of going this way is for the downhill run towards Braemar and the beauties of Royal Deeside in autumn. The valley of the River Dee has lots of birchwoods and, time it right, and you'll find these will have colored up nicely.

View south-east from the Cairn o' Mount road.

View south-east from the Cairn o' Mount road.

You could spend a night or two somewhere along the River Dee and return south over the Cairn o' Mount. This is another hill-pass, not as high as the Cairnwell Pass but this one has a fine view southeastwards towards the sea. (All right, I admit it: the wee picture here was taken in July, not autumn at all - no, not even in Scotland! - but you get a notion of the ambience of the place…)

Stags do not attack humans as a rule.

Stags do not attack humans as a rule.

Certainly, there are fine woodlands on the way but I'd like you to get out of your vehicle at the top - there is a car-park - and listen. Time it right and you should hear the roaring of red deer stags.

Basically, in the autumn, these big male deer challenge each other, their antlers interlocked and rattling, to see who gets the most females. It's a really evocative sound of Highland Scotland in the Fall. Listen out for the bellowing coming from the hills and moors around. Oh, and it's quite safe.

The very occasional (and ridiculous) notice like this (pictured here) is just to make you think it's dangerous and prevent you from exercising your legal right to roam. You'll be absolutely fine walking on the moors in autumn, though personally I would avoid wearing antlers.

Here below, you'll find a wee gallery with some pictures of Scotland in autumn.

Where should you go to see the best autumn colours?

Well, start with, say, somewhere near Killiecrankie, off the main A9 road. (Actually, just about anywhere in Perthshire is good.) The upper stretches of Deeside, especially between Ballater and Braemar, can also colour up nicely. The same applies to river woodland along the River Spey, say, towards Craigellachie. And , as you can see from pictures here, upper Strathearn, the Crieff and Comrie area, are pretty spectacular. Then there is The Trossachs...in fact, there are lots more places. These are just a few suggestions to start you off...

Anyway, The autumn mini-tour described above basically goes Edinburgh, Perthshire, Deeside and back - and is just one way of seeing Scotland in the Fall. You could extend it by following the valley of the River Spey into Scotland's 'whisky country' - plenty of birchwoods there. Or take in the Trossachs and possibly Loch Lomond in the west, or the Atlantic oakwoods of Argyll. These all make good autumn tours.

Or if the days are getting short, then take a look at the suggested winter tour of Scotland. Gosh, so many options.... and it was nice of you to read all the way to the foot of the page.