Top 5 islands to explore around the UK this autumn
Quieter than the busy summer months and filled with glorious colours, autumn is an excellent time to explore some of the UK’s most beautiful and remote islands, says photographer Chris Orange
Autumn is by far my favourite season. It’s a photographer’s paradise. The process of nature moving towards the completion of its yearly cycle provides us with an array of vibrant colours, misty mornings and soft sunlight that saturates the autumn colours with a golden glow that captures my imagination.
For a landscape photographer, this is a feast of drama that no other season provides. The beauty of autumn is not only witnessed on mainland Britain, but is seen throughout the many islands that surround it. For me, this is the best time to visit the isles and enjoy the variety of colour and incredible landscapes that the autumn light displays.
I've got a particular love for the Inner and Outer Hebrides, which I've spent a lot of time exploring and photographing, as well as other islands around the UK.
Colourful landscapes on Lindisfarne (Chris Orange)
If you love an adventurous walk along a ruggedly beautiful and often wild and windy coastline, then Lindisfarne is the perfect autumn location. It lies hidden beneath the Cheviot hills, along the coast of Northumberland on England’s north-east coast, and is accessed only by road, via a causeway, when the tide is out.
The island is surrounded by seals who can be easily spotted from one of the beaches on the island and whose songs can be heard sounding out as the sun sets over the Cheviots.
Autumn is a wonderful time to visit the island, with a circuit around it being a day’s walk that will take you past a castle on the harbour peninsular, through a nature reserve that looks out across the North Sea, across white sandy beaches and along a causeway with views towards the Cheviots. It’s one of my favourite walks in Britain.
2. The Isle of Lewis
Sunset on the coast of the Isle of Lewis (Chris Orange)
For someone who loves a dramatic landscape, this is the time of year to visit the Outer Hebrides. The rugged landscape around the Isle of Lewis and Harris is one that will capture your imagination and leave you wishing you had more time to explore these beautiful islands.
One of the highlights of any visit will be to visit the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis at sunrise. The views from here are simply incredible, with the ever-changing skies over the mountains on the horizon.
There’s also a wonderful walk at the very north of Lewis by The Butt of Lewis Lighthouse. It’s officially the windiest place in Europe, so you’ll need some good outdoor gear, but the views out towards the North Atlantic Ocean are wonderful, especially at sunset. When you’re walking in very changeable weather, it’s important to be warm and dry, and, as a photographer, this is essential, as I’m often out during the coldest times of the day waiting for the sun to rise.
3. Lundy Island
Coastal views on Lundy (Chris Orange)
Lundy is a magical place, lying 12 miles off of the coast of Devon. It’s popular with bird watchers throughout the spring and summer when the puffins migrate here, but in the autumn there is a peace that will allow you to walk and enjoy the views and beautiful sunsets that the island offers.
The island is only three miles long, but with no permanent residents, it has a feeling of space to it that’s unique.
There are wonderful walks along the coastline near The Battery, which is a great place to watch the sunset too. This walk will take you past the old lighthouse, which affords wonderful views from the top.
4. The Isle of Tiree
House on the Isle of Tiree (Chris Orange)
This small Island is a real gem, boasting some of the finest beaches you’ll see in Britain, with white sands and turquoise seas, making it perfect for autumn walks. The island, measuring 12 miles long and three miles wide, is the furthest west you can travel in the Inner Hebrides, and has a population of just 650 people.
It’s a popular island in the summer months, but in the autumn the tourist numbers drop dramatically. Any visit at this time of year will allow you to feel as though you have the island to yourself.
Tiree is a fantastic place to walk or hire a bike to explore. I enjoyed walking near the beautiful harbour in Scarinish, which offers magnificent views towards the Isle of Mull and Iona, particularly at sunrise when the sunlight is shining over them.
Tiree looks out over the Atlantic Ocean, and you can watch for dolphins and porpoise from the white sandy beach near Balevullin.
5. The Isle of Skye
Rushing river on the Isle of Skye (Chris Orange)
Throughout spring and summer, the Isle of Skye is an extremely busy island, with tourists flocking to the many iconic landmarks that we’ve become so familiar with. However, as the season moves into autumn, the numbers begin to drop off, making this the perfect time to enjoy all that Skye has to offer.
There is a sense of majesty about the environment on Skye, which can be witnessed as you drive past the Sligachan Old Bridge. It’s well worth walking in this area, as it gives you a wonderful view of the Black Cuillin Mountains.
The drive on from here towards the Talisker distillery has some incredibly memorable views too. I shared a memorable sunset with the sheep in a field, both of us looking out towards the Isles of Rum and Eigg.
For more on Chris Orange’s Remote Britain project, celebrating and photographing Britain’s remote locations, see remotebritain.uk.