New research from the National Trust has found that the kaleidoscope of natural colours experienced on an autumn walk makes people feel happier, healthier and calmer  at a time when more than 40% admit to feeling down as the nights draw in.
The conservation charity released the findings as part of its Great British Walk 2014, which launched this week with an invitation to enjoy a rainbow of walks. Shades of blue found on walks by water or when the landscape is coloured by the evening’s darkening sky were found to help soothe away stress (36%), while the greens of hilltops and pine woodlands leave people feeling more connected with the natural world (52%).
Renowned colour psychologist, Angela Wright, was commissioned to produce a report alongside the findings assessing the importance of autumnal colours experienced in different environmental landscapes.
Angela said: “Natural colour schemes can inspire us and lift our spirits. Autumn, combined with the rich light at this time of the year, is a flamboyant blaze of intense colours with each affecting us in a different way.
“People are more susceptible to the effects of aesthetic influences in the natural world than to any other colour sources.
“Fresh air, exercise and the sense of getting away from it all play a positive role in improving our well-being. However, it’s the colours that we experience which are the most powerful tonic to affecting our mood.”
Despite more than 70% of people finding that autumn walks help to combat winter blues, almost half (48%) admit to not going on enough walks during the autumn months with almost a third (32%) claiming it’s because they rarely get the chance to go on a stroll.
National Trust Ranger for Ceredigion, Gwen Potter, said: “Autumn bursts with colour and life. It’s the best time to see nature and wildlife at its most spectacular, but it’s also a time of change and reflection.
“This season is the perfect time of year for walking. The trees and landscape start to turn every shade imaginable which lifts your spirits; it’s cooler, but not cold, and you could get a misty morning with those familiar damp smells or a clear, crisp day when everything appears to shine brighter.
“The National Trust looks after some beautiful gardens and landscapes, and our role as a conservation charity is to maintain these fantastic places.”
To help encourage more people to make the most of the autumn palette the National Trust has unveiled its top walks inspired by the colours of autumn. Chosen by Trust rangers, they showcase the rainbow of colours and scenery that can be enjoyed across England, Wales and Northern Ireland this September and October.
Top autumn colour walks
Red – Home to around 200 red squirrels, autumn is the best time of year to see them on Brownsea Island in Dorset. Enjoy spotting them while walking amongst ornamental red and scarlet oaks.
Orange – Take a sunset walk at Nant Gwynant in Snowdonia, one of the most dramatic valleys in Wales, and see the ancient oak and ash as they turn a vibrant orange.
Yellow – The Speke Hall estate in Liverpool appears to glow yellow during the autumn months. The trees are decorated with yellow leaves in the ancient woodland and grasses turn a yellow-brown as they dry up for the autumn.
Blue – Walking through Carding Mill Valley in Shropshire, visitors can see blue-tinged hills standing tall in the distance. As the nights draw in during the autumn months, the skies become a dark blue colour. The water in the stream and the waterfall appear to shine brighter and the heather takes on a blue tinge.
Russet – The raised boardwalk at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire and lush grass droves allow easy access to a lost landscape where visitors can enjoy the vibrant russet tones of the sedge in the late autumn months.
Purple – The colour purple dominates the mountain of Divis in Northern Ireland in the autumn which is set in the heart of the Belfast Hills. The purple-coloured and wonderfully named Devil’s-bit Scabious carpets much of the landscape through September until October.
This year’s Great British Walk takes place at National Trust properties all over the country from 8 September to 24 October. In addition to the top colour walks, there are over 1000 downloadable walks on the National Trust website along with more than 2000 walking events and a book of 100 walks through beautiful places.
The National Trust is encouraging the nation to join in and enjoy the autumn colours by getting out and sharing their vibrant walking photos on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #GBwalk.
To find out more and download the National Trust’s walks, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gbwalk
 84% of respondents agreed