If you're listing destinations that are great to visit during autumn, we're fully expecting Scotland to be near the top if not number one. Scotland suits this time of year just perfectly. The colours of our landscapes mature from the vibrant summer greens to the rich yellows, oranges, reds and browns of year-end. Our dramatic mountains and atmospheric glens look even better with the darker hues and moody weather as a backdrop. The shortening days make for glorious morning and evening light, and while so much in nature is starting to slow down ahead of winter, many of our iconic wildlife will display an increased activity. All this makes Scotland an excellent autumn holiday destination, especially for hikers, wildlife lovers and photographers.
Find out what you've got to look forward to in Scotland during this magical time of year.
Beautiful Light & Magnificent Skies
The quality of light in Scotland during autumn is unparalleled. It's hard to describe and is best experienced in person, but there's a certain magic to it. Due to our northern latitude and shortening days, you get majestic golden and blue hours through autumn and winter. During the day, the light is evocative in a different way. Sunrays bursting through dark clouds, rainbows around every corner, looming mountains outlined in the rising or setting sun and brilliant blue skies contrasting with all the darker russet shades in the landscape.
Improve your skills at capturing Scotland’s incredible light on a Wilderness Scotland photography holiday.
Autumn can be a great time for seeing wildlife in Scotland. Many animals like red squirrels, badgers and pine marten are a lot less active in the winter months and will spend September, October and November preparing and gathering food ahead of the colder days. This is ideal for seeing both them and the very few hibernating beasties like hedgehogs and bats before they settle down for winter.
The more notable wildlife activity in autumn is undeniably the red deer rutting. The first time you hear the roar of a stag echoing through a glen you won’t know quite what hit you. It’s deeply primal, these challenging bellows rumbling between two or three stags, as they posture and sometimes fight for dominance and mating rights to the nearby does. You’re also more likely to see grey seals on the shore as they pup in the autumn months, as well as Atlantic salmon and sea trout as they migrate up rivers to their hatching grounds inland.
Witness the annual migration of Barnacle geese to Islay on Wilderness Scotland’s Islay Wildlife Tour that takes place in the autumn.
Scotland's has many areas which are very sparsely populated and thus have minimal light pollution at night. This makes Scotland a fabulous place to go if you love stargazing. If you're lucky, you might even see the Northern Lights! They are known to dance in Scotland’s skies later in the year and in the early months due to the northern latitude.
Base yourself at a Highland lodge for a Wilderness Retreat with like-minded adventurers. A women-only Wilderness Scotland holiday, enjoy a change of pace with wild swimming, yoga, navigation skills and gentle hiking. The lodge is based at the edge of Glenfeshie, a very remote and pretty area perfect for spending time outside and looking up at clear skies filled with an impossible amount of stars.
Another splendid thing about autumn in Scotland? Cloud inversions. You're most likely to see them in spring and autumn, as the change in temperature from night to day is what causes them to form. There's nothing more spectacular than seeing a glen filled with mist and wispy clouds from above whilst the peaks are completely clear. The phrase 'feeling on top of the world' pretty much covers the experience. All sense of depth below is lost and the mountains look like they could be endlessly tall. Another wonderful way to experience this is by the water - mist will concentrate just above the water. You have to be an early riser to enjoy cloud inversions though, but that just before the dawn alarm clock is worth the views.
Learn more about them and watch a stunning video of them in this Cloud Inversion blog.
We’re not going to pretend it doesn't rain in Scotland, it does. But without a bit of rain, Scotland's awesome waterfalls wouldn't look very impressive. Come and admire the many amazing drops and cascades dotted across the country in autumn when there is a higher percentage of rain than in summer, spring and winter. You'll find Eas a' Chaul Aluinn, the highest waterfall in the UK in northwest Scotland, whilst Steall Falls near Fort William and Plodda Falls in Glen Affric are competing for the title of most beautiful waterfall in Britain. There's a large variety of waterfall types to see too, with classic tiered cascades, single drops and plunges. Many of Scotland's waterfalls will have parking facilities nearby, well-constructed paths and sometimes even a viewing platform, so visiting a local fall is a great half-day activity suitable for families.
Immerse yourself in Scotland’s Autumn landscape and enjoy a waterfall or two on Wilderness Scotland’s Autumn Highlands walking holiday.
Written by Meike van Krimpen, Wilderness Scotland