Bringing together an array of creations against a striking backdrop of rich autumnal foliage and beautiful countryside, Britain offers a wealth of artistic outdoor escapes. By combining art with towering forests, sprawling lakes and an abundance of wildlife, these sculpture parks and trails offer fun for all the family, while displaying works by some of the country’s most renowned sculptors. Visitors can explore these unique open-air spaces, while taking in a plethora of truly spectacular views – scenes only enhanced by the colours of autumn!
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Yorkshire
Another striking outdoor art collection in the heart of Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is home to works by some of the world’s most renowned artists. Having displayed outdoor art for four decades, it features many short and long-term loan pieces, as well as gifts from artists and specifically commissioned masterpieces. Highlights include four giant bronze sculptures by Damian Hurst – on display until April 2022 – as well as Sean Henry’s Seated Figure, and Wilsis by Jaume Plensa, a seven-metre high portrait head. The open-air collection within the historic estate includes around 80 works throughout the woodland areas, beautifully framed by rich shades of red, yellow and orange when autumn arrives. The park’s underground gallery also houses Valkyrie Marina Rinaldi, a giant 12-metre-long installation from Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. Suspended from the ceiling and on show until 3 January 2021, the work is an arresting representation of female power within Norse mythology.
Tickets for the sculpture park need to be purchased in advance and include an allocated arrival slot.
Developed as Britain’s first outdoor art trail, WANDER incorporates a series of sculptures and artworks along a 79-mile stretch of the Yorkshire Wolds Way. The national walking trail weaves through spectacular rolling countryside, stretching from the banks of the River Humber to the picturesque headland at Foley Brigg. Featuring installations from a number of nationally recognised artists that are designed to amplify the beauty of the surrounding scenery, there are also six carved oak benches adorned with poetry along the route, perfect for resting weary legs and taking in the autumnal views.
WANDER is free to visit and does not need to be booked in advance.
The Sculpture Park, Surrey
Covering 10 acres, The Sculpture Park in Churt, Surrey, is home to an ever-changing collection of around 650 works by 300 different artists, including both internationally renowned sculptors and up-and-coming creators. All of the works are showcased in the stunning surroundings of the arboretum and water gardens, an eclectic mix of dazzling deep orange autumnal colours, and almost all are available to purchase. Visitors can wander among bronze, copper and ceramic masterpieces, as well as abstract works and others reflecting the wildlife found throughout the park.
Tickets for The Sculpture Park must be pre-booked online.
Ellesmere Sculpture Trail, Shropshire
Created over the space of a decade and with new works still being added, the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail is designed to reflect the vibrant heritage and culture of the region. Taking pride of place in North Shropshire, near to Oswestry, the trail features works by contemporary artists from across the world, all taking inspiration from the surrounding landscape. Come the autumn, the mix of granite, steel and wood creations are framed by vibrant colours, many of which reflect off the waters of The Mere. 2020 saw the addition of two new sculptures to the trail, commemorating the creation of the Save the Children Fund by sisters Dorothy Buxton and Eglantyne Jebb, who were born in the town.
The trail does not need to be booked, although visitors should check the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail website for further information prior to travel. A handy map is also available to guide visitors around Ellesmere and the surrounding countryside.
Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, Gloucestershire
Since being established in 1986 as one of Britain’s first sculpture routes, more than 25 artists and photographers have contributed works for the four-and-a-half-mile long Sculpture Trail in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. While some have been lost to nature over time, 17 remain, allowing visitors to seek out art as they wander among the region’s ancient trees and impressive woodland. The views are particularly inspiring in the autumn months, when the golden colours of autumn glisten in the early morning sun. Purple trail markers help to point visitors in the direction of each sculpture, including Threshold by Natasha Rosling and Keir Smith’s The Iron Road, situated atop a former railway embankment in the heart of the forest.
The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail does not need to be booked, although visitors should check the trail’s website for further details prior to travel.
Another Place by Antony Gormley, Merseyside
Reaching more than half a mile out to sea and spanning nearly two miles of seafront, Another Place is a collection of 100 life-size cast iron figures from renowned sculptor Antony Gormley, the man behind the Angel of the North. Spread out across Crosby Beach in Merseyside staring out to sea, each figure is a cast of the sculptor’s own body and is even more atmospheric against the crashing waves and windswept skies of an autumn evening. Having previously been exhibited in Germany, Norway and Belgium, the beach is now the permanent home for this unique set of remarkable sculptures.
Another Place is free to visit. Visitors can find out more information on the social distancing measures in place at VisitLiverpool.com.
Jupiter Artland, Scotland
Around 10 miles to the west of Edinburgh, and set within the glorious grounds of Bonnington House, Jupiter Artland is an ever-evolving collection of impressive sculptures and lush parkland that comes alive with riotous colour in autumn. Created by Robert and Nicky Wilson, the sculpture park includes awe-inspiring works by Antony Gormley, Charles Jencks, Anish Kapoor and Cornelia Parker, as well as many others. Stand-out designs include Marc Quinn’s Love Bomb, a 12-metre-tall orchid, and Jencks’ The Cells of Life, a set of carefully sculpted landforms and lakes depicting the building blocks of life. Exploring the grounds offers plenty of opportunities to be at one with nature, while also enjoying the many colours associated with the seasons.
Tickets for Jupiter Artland must pre-booked before visiting.
RSPB Lake Vyrnwy Nature Reserve, Wales
Developed in the 1880s as a reservoir to fulfil Liverpool’s water needs, Lake Vyrnwy in Powys, Wales, is an RSPB Nature Reserve with an award-winning sculpture trail to boot. Mixing nature with heritage and history in the middle of the Mid-Wales countryside, the reserve has something to keep those of all ages entertained. Birdlife can be spotted around the waters all year round, although keen bird-watchers should look out for autumn arrivals including mallards, oystercatchers and teals, alongside otters and other rare wildlife. Dotted along the shores of the lake, the sculpture trail features wooden works by a diverse mix of local and international artists, including Simon O’Rourke’s The Giant Hand of Vyrnwy, a 15-metre-high carving made from what was once the tallest tree in Wales!
Lake Vyrnwy is free to visit and does not need to be booked in advance. Please see the website for further details.
Different locations and attractions across Britain have various measures in place to enable guests to explore with confidence. Visitors are encouraged to look at the official websites prior to travel for the latest information.