With spring just around the corner, the hope of warmer weather and the promise of lighter evenings means that it is time to think about how you can spend an afternoon or two. Throughout the winter, you may feel apprehensive about heading out to explore the UK’s beautiful countryside; periods of cold weather can produce ice underfoot which can be difficult to avoid, and the occasional downpour of rain can lead to inescapable puddles, often cutting your walk short. However, with the changing of the seasons, now is the perfect time to head outside to enjoy the flowers as they begin to bloom and the trees transforming from bare branches to sprout new leaves.
The UK is home to some impressive landscapes and, whether you’re interested in discovering new plant varieties in the carefully-maintained gardens of a stately home or wandering along an unspoilt trail, there is something for everyone. From 30th March – 7th April, English Tourism Week in association with VisitEngland takes place, with the aim to inspire people to experience the best of what the country has to offer. A variety of days out, guided tours and suggested excursions will allow you to make the most of the spring landscape, offering you inspiration for things to do.
We’ve composed a list of some of the best places to explore this spring. Take a look at the selection below, all of which have easy routes, manageable terrain and are perfect to tackle whilst wearing a pair of women’s comfort shoes.
Blickling Estate – Norwich, Norfolk
“Blickling Hall is one of my favourite National Trust sites, at 4,600 acres there is something for everyone”, shares Michelle from Mummy from the Heart. “Woodland walks with many trails including an accessible multi-use path, an enormous and well-preserved house that has housed the likes of Harold Godwinson and Anne Boleyn's family over the years, an amazing walled kitchen garden, a lake to sit by on a warm day and even its very own pub in the grounds. If you are in Norfolk you won’t be disappointed with a visit to this National Trust site, either with friends, family or your dog.”
Nestled in the heart of the Norfolk countryside, Blickling Estate offers visitors the chance to discover its fantastic history. Built in 1616 on the ground of Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, the National Trust adopted the house in 1940, and still care for the hall today. Today, you can wander along the corridors, slipping into rooms such as the library where one of the most significant collections of manuscripts can be found. In fact, according to the National Trust, there are “more books at Blickling in Norfolk - over 12,500 - than in the whole of Wales.” However, during spring, the highlight of your visit will most likely be the gorgeous gardens.
Blickling Estate boasts 3,500 acres of farmland and 950 acres of woodland, meaning that it is a great option if you’re looking for a spring stroll destination. With maps on offer advising you on what walks you should undertake, you’ll be able to see the hotspots such as The Tower, The Walled Garden and The Great Wood, all of which look more impressive when accompanied by the first blooms of spring. Additionally, as the weather begins to warm up, pausing for a while in the secret garden will allow you to make the most of the tranquil environment whilst surrounded by the impressive beech hedges – perfect for a mild spring afternoon.
Charlecote – Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
The circular walk at Charlecote, located on the outskirts of Stratford-upon-Avon allows you to relish in the Warwickshire countryside. The impressive grounds of Charlecote park are managed by the National Trust and open seven days a week. After a stroll around the lawns spotting deer, you may wish to step inside the house and explore the public rooms of the Victorian home, with an impressive library and dining room. However, if you’re interested in extending your walk, the acres of parkland have a flat terrain which is great for dog walking.
Brogdale Collections – Faversham, Kent
Brogdale is home to one of the largest collections of fruit in the UK. From rosy red apples to the purple hue of a plum, all can be experienced on a guided tour through the orchards, which are open seven days a week from March to October. The wealth of knowledge that each of the tour guides offers means that any questions about the 4,000 different varieties of fruit that can be found at Brogdale will be answered but, if you’re wanting to marvel at the fruit yourself, a self-guided tour may be the right option for you.
Giulia from Mondomulia, a food and travel blogger, loves visiting this location during spring: “What I love about Brogdale Farm in Faversham is that they have some of the largest collections of fruits in the country. For example, they grow 2,200 varieties of apples from all over the world and from almost every county in Britain. The farm operates as a library of thousands of species of fruits, protecting the trees and preventing them from disappearing. A visit to Brogdale Farm is fascinating and great fun for both kids and adults.”
Worm’s Head – Rhossili, Wales
There’s nothing quite like fresh sea air and fortunately, the walk at Worm’s Head in Rhossili is perfect for those who are looking for a short route. Although the causeway which links the mainland to Worm’s Head is only exposed for two hours each day, a walk along the headland provides you with sweeping views of the unspoilt Welsh landscape. There are many places along this trail that make great picnic spots and the shop will allow you to pick up a few treats before heading out, whilst the visitor centre will provide you with insight into the local area.
Hucking Estate - Hollingbourne, Maidstone
Woodland Trust site manager for Hucking Estate, Clive Steward, said: “Hucking Estate, a 573-acre site, in the Kent Downs, offers a varied mix of habitats from ancient to newly planted woodland. It’s one of our top ten bluebell woods boasting a wonderful display of these delightfully delicate, sweetly-scented blue flowers from mid-April to early June. Hucking Estate is a sanctuary for rare butterflies such as the purple hairstreak, several species of bat, and birds such as the turtle dove and skylark. Its ancient woodland is home to majestic oaks and centuries-old lime and beech.
Impressive trees, plants and wildlife and well-managed trails make Hucking Estate a rewarding place to visit.”
Minus the hamlet of Hucking, the estate is owned, in its entirety, by the Woodland Trust. Since being acquired by the trust in 1997, they have planted over 180,000 native trees, making this a lovely location if you’re looking for a peaceful afternoon walk. For those who may have difficulty walking, spring would be an easier time to visit due to the friendlier weather.
The Knockan Crag trail – Highlands, Scotland
The Knockan Crag trail is a wonderful option if you’re heading out for a walk in Scotland this spring. The flat terrain makes this walk both easy and enjoyable and the route, which takes walkers onto the top of the Crag, is just 1.25 miles long. Having a short path already predetermined means that you can spend your time marvelling at the incredible views or snapping pictures on your camera. Whether you’re interested in finding out more about the variety of flora in bloom or watching birds fly overhead, this is a great location for you. What’s more is that there are benches aplenty, giving you space to catch your breath and take a moment to check out the incredible views, allowing you to take as long – or as little – as you would like on the trail.
Windsor Great Park – Windsor, Berkshire
The imposing Windsor Great Park is a fantastic location if you’re planning on heading out on a spring walk. Consisting of 4,800 acres, it is a great place to visit if you’re hoping to immerse yourself in the 1,000-year long history of some of England’s most impressive monarchs. The number of trails and paths for you to follow here are endless and pass historical monuments, take you through lush green forests and offer you the chance to de-stress whilst amongst the peace and quiet.
Perhaps one of the most prominent paths, The Long Walk, offers you 2.65 miles of path under a tree-lined avenue. Starting at the castle gate, a straight path has been carved out for you to follow, ending at the impressive Copper Horse statue that “depicts George III on horseback, and was commissioned by George IV as a tribute to his father." If you’re a beginner walker or even someone who is just looking to head outside for some fresh air, this is a great option for you. However, there are myriad more routes around Windsor Great Park for those who are slightly more advanced walkers.
Dunstanburgh Castle – Alnwick, Northumberland
The impressive, towering ruins at Dunstanburgh Castle make it a wonderful location to explore on a spring afternoon. With a rich history dating back to the 14th century, you can discover more about the fortress built by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster or head down to Craster harbour to view the flowers that were once hidden amongst the dunes as they begin to bloom. The vibrant fishing village of Craster is situated just a mile away from the castle and makes the perfect place to stop for some lunch. Kippers are famous in this area, so should not be missed!
The Camelford Way – Camelford, Cornwall
Fresh wild garlic and the pop of violet from the bluebells line the path for this walk in Camelford and with water bubbling underfoot at the Fenteroon Bridge, this is a spectacular sight in spring. The Camelford Way walk is a great option due to the varied terrain. Although much of the walk is through fields, an option outlined on iWalk Cornwall takes you through the quaint town centre along concrete paths. This is a beautiful walk that puts you in the heart of the Cornish countryside, fantastic for spring!
If you’re looking to make the most of the milder weather, visiting one of these beautiful locations could be the perfect afternoon activity. From exploring the well-manicured gardens of a stately home to wandering amongst the towering trees of a blooming forest, there has never been a better time than during spring!