Spanish forests go for autumn gold

If your experience of Spain is limited to the Mediterranean beaches, the sunny golfing enclaves of the south or the monuments and museums of the big cities, it may surprise you to find that almost 30% of the country's total land area is covered by forest. And the changing colours of autumn make this the ideal time to take a look at some of the lesser known areas of the country.

The days are getting shorter, the sun's summer strength is waning, and the leaves on the trees are beginning to take on a whole host of colours from the earth-tone palette: flaming yellow and vermilion, coppery red, rusty orange, gold, ochre, sienna, and all the shades in between. Autumn is undoubtedly here and Nature has a treat in store for us in the glorious arboreal art of the over 14 million hectares of forests and woods across Spain. The season is full of romance and dreams; noiselessly, the leaves begin to fall, a soft wind whispers, encouraging us to venture in between the trees to walk on a soft carpet of leaves into the heart of the woods. From north to south, the Iberian peninsula is slowly wrapping herself in sweet autumnal melancholy.

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Asturias in autumn
The woods and forests of Asturias are beautiful at any time of year, but autumn's rich palette of colours makes it a perfect time to visit / © El Transcantabrico 

Autumnal cork forest
Mediterranean cork forests support high plant and wildlife diversity. This beautiful scene is from the Aracena mountains in the southwest of Spain / © Patronato Provincial de Turismo de Huelva 

Embalse de Ruesga
Spain is dotted with huge embalses (reservoirs); the Embalse de Ruesga in the Montaña Palentina, in the north of the country, is one of the smallest, but none the less beautiful / © SOTUR 

Selva de Irati
The Selva de Irati, Navarre, lies on the border between Spain and France / © Archivo de Turismo “Reyno de Navarra” 

Canal de Castilla
A forest walk beside the Castilla Canal, at Medina de Rioseco, about forty kilometres northwest of Valladolid / © P. Perez Salan / Turismo de Medina de Rioseco 

Autumn in the Alpujarras
The Lecrin valley in the Alpujarra mountains near Granada dons its autumn colours / © Patronato Provincial de Turismo de Granada 

Navarre in autumn
The countryside of Navarre is a perfect place for an outdoors escape in autumn / © Archivo de Turismo “Reyno de Navarra” 

La Mirada Circular
La Mirada Circular – literally, 'the circular view' – is a project of sustainable tourism in the mountains of El Bierzo in northern Spain / © Isidro Canoniga / Fundacion Ciudad de la Energia 

Sweet chestnust in autumn
Fallen leaves from sweet chestnuts in Jaen's Despeñaperros Natural Park carpet the ground with the rich colour of the season / © Jose Luis Castillo Juarez / Diputacion Provincial Jaen 

Sierra de Francia, Salamanca
Salamanca's Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park is a biosphere reserve, with forests of mostly alder, ash, pine and oak / © Francisco Martin / Diputacion de Salamanca 

Irati river, Navarre, in autumn
Autumnal melancholy accompanies the river Irati as it passes through Oroz-Betelu, Navarre / © Archivo de Turismo “Reyno de Navarra” 

Beech forest, Guadalajara
The Hayedo de Tejera Negra Natural Park, Guadalajara, takes on the russet tones of beech and oak in autumn / © Instituto de Promocion Turistica de Castilla-La Mancha