With longer days, birdsong in the air, bright buds and critters waking from their slumber, spring is a beautiful time of year for walking. From delicate meadows and blossom-lined paths, to fresh coastal walks and mighty summits, we’ve rounded 15 walks that offer the very best seasonal highlights nature has to offer
Buttermere Valley to Rannerdale Knotts, Lake District
Situated in the lovely Lake District, Buttermere Valley’s peaks are capped with a dusting a snow, still shaking off the chill from the long months of winter. Further down, the warmer climes of spring bring a change to the landscape and provides some excellent wildlife watching opportunities.
Nesting birds are so active here that the walk around the lake temporarily closes from early April 1 to June 30 to allow sandpipers to nest undisturbed. Thankfully, it is still possible to take the more exhilarating walk from the Buttermere Valley up to the summit of Rannerdale Knotts. This National Trust route rewards walkers with glorious views of three lakes and many high peaks.
Roseberry Topping, North Yorkshire
With swathes of bluebells, sorrel and stitchwort, Newton Wood is one of the best places in the UK to enjoy the purple haze and delicate aroma that signal the start of spring. The walk to the summit of Roseberry Topping – the famous hill that overlooks this springtime spectacle – provides some picture-perfect panoramic views of the flowers.
On this National Trust trail, you’ll find some marvellous mature woodland, home to sessile oak, rowan, ash and alder trees. At this time of year, a chorus of birdsong can also be heard echoing through the foliage, with migrant chiffchaffs, blackcaps and willow warblers as well as noisy cuckoos announcing their arrival.
Did you know?
The common male cuckoo is the only member of the family that actually calls ‘cuckoo'. The female birds make a bubbling call which is often said to resemble the sound of bath water running out when the plug is pulled!
Monsal Dale, Derbyshire
Monsal Dale is a wonderful example of the charming Derbyshire countryside – a place where you can walk along the river, take in the landscape, sit by a weir and have a picnic.
The coming months bring an explosion of seasonal colour along the high tracks and waterside paths in this part of the Peak District. On a sunny spring day with a hint of breeze, the new wildflowers assault the senses, with nearby garlicky aroma of ramson plants often detectable in the air, while hints of yellow, white, blue and purple flowers wow the eyes.
On this ramble, the Headstone Viaduct offers some memorable views up and down the winding dale. Further upstream is a great spot for sighting dipper birds, characterised by their brown feathers and white chest.
Golden Triangle, Gloucestershire
Glorious Gloucestershire is home to the Golden Triangle – a peaceful area of pastures, woodlands and orchards, where carpets of beautiful yellow daffodils can be found blooming in abundance. This part of the UK was once the commercial centre for growing wild daffodils that were sent off to London.
Thanks to the Wildlife Trust, this circular route, named the Daffodil Way, has been conserved for visitors to admire at their leisure, starting from the village of Dymock through the serene Vale of Leadon. At this time of year, the surrounding countryside is also awash with bluebells and butterflies. On the trail you’ll find the 12th Century St Mary’s Church in Kempley is an impressive example of Norman architecture, featuring the oldest timber roof in all of England.
Did you know?
Daffodils were brought to Britain by the Romans, who believed that the sap would heal wounds. In actual fact, it contains sharp crystals that irritate the skin!
The Stray, Harrogate
Few sights in the British countryside are as refreshing as dense clusters of blooming blossoms. The Stray, a 200-acre area of public parkland that wraps around historic Harrogate, is the perfect spot to see nature’s confetti.
A visit in April sees carpets of yellow, white and purple crocuses and yellow ribbons of daffodils than can also be admired on this leisurely springtime stroll.
Time a visit in May and you can witness long lines of cherry trees burst in a blaze of deep fuchsia, with their petals swirling to the ground in the breeze – contrasting beautifully with the soot-darkened sandstone buildings around them.
A large area of open grassland, the park is also frequented by kite flyers and picnic goers.
Brockholes Nature Reserve, Lancashire
Brockholes is a brilliant place to visit at any time of year, but spring puts on a particularly special show.
Boilton Wood is brightened by a kaleidoscope of colour, with bobbing bluebells, bright yellow lesser celandines, pretty primroses and delicate wood anemones, showing off their delightful petals for visitors, bees and butterflies to enjoy.
Take the Reserve Trail to admire the blossoming ancient woodland as well as the lakes, pools and grassland that make up this peaceful nature reserve. Keep your eyes peeled on early morning visits during March and early April and you might even witness boxing hares, as the females fend off the advances of over-amorous males.
Did you know?
The brown hare is the fastest land mammal in the UK, reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour at full pelt!
Few things herald spring quite like the sight of new lambs. Around 1,000 of them are born at The National Trust’s Ickworth each year, and you can see them frolic around fields bordering the main drive.
As well as watching the new arrivals, the estate provides the perfect place to spend a lazy spring day, with the circular Alabama Walk leading you through enchanting woodland, dappled with sunlight and scattered with snowdrops and spring buds.
Tennyson Down, Isle of Wight
Taking its name from the bearded Victorian bard, the Tennyson Down is arguably the prettiest spot for spring a walk on the Isle of Wight. The air is so fresh it is 'worth sixpence a pint' so said Alfred Lord Tennyson.
This majestic chalk cliff is topped with lush, buttercup laden grassland – close cropped by the resident rabbits – boasting wonderful views of the Solent. This challenging figure of eight hike can be taken up to the Tennyson monument, which also offers a splendid view of the iconic Needles, a 19th Century fort and a Cold War rocket test site.
Keep an eye out for the tiny wildflowers which grow in the chalk grassland.
The walk can be split into a more manageable 3 or 4 mile chunks if the word ‘hike’ puts you off!
Blickling Estate, Norfolk
Situated in the rolling Norfolk countryside, The National Trust’s beautiful Blickling Estate – birthplace of Anne Boleyn – is a stunning mix of historic country house and gardens and woodland which has seen little change since the 18th Century. In April and May, carpets of bluebells sit in between a mix of oak, beech groves, and ancient sweet chestnuts.
Beyond its natural beauty, there are lots of unexpected curiosities to discover along the walking trail – from the imposing pyramid mausoleum, to a 18th Century tower – originally built for watching horse races once held in the park but now let as a holiday cottage. Not to mention the imposing Jacobean mansion itself.
Alnmouth to Warkworth, Northumberland
Enjoy a seven-mile stroll along the North East coast, meandering through dunes and onto a long empty beach, topped by the pretty, red-roofed town of Alnmouth and tailed by the impressive remains of the medieval Warkworth castle.
Time your visit right and the tall sand dunes of Buston Links will be ablaze with wildflowers, including bloody cranesbill, cowslips and harebells, gently swaying in the breeze. On the beach, dive-bombing birds, such as Arctic terns, can be seen fishing for their prey, making this the perfect spot for birdwatching.
Inland, the castle at Warkworth, once the ancestral home Northumberland’s greatest aristocratic family, makes a majestic end point, overlooking the River Coquet.
Rockcliffe to Kippford, Dumfries and Galloway
This inlet is one of Scotland’s most enchanting corners, with a variety of habitats that burst into life from April onwards. The circular coastal path from Rockcliffe to Kippford is a fairly short stroll, showcasing vibrant yellow gorse flowers lining the coastal headland like floral beacons, before leading you through the ancient broadleaf woodlands, bursting with wood anemones and bluebells and meadows erupting with daisies, dandelions and insect-friendly grasses.
There are numerous viewpoints from which to survey and take in more of this colourful landscape, from The Muckle Mound’s summit – offering views across the estuary – or the peak of Mote of Mark, a hill-top fort overlooking a flower meadow below.
Flowerdale Glen, Gairloch
As its name suggests, Flowerdale Glen is home to an abundance of wildflowers which, at this time of year, begin to break through the surface of the soil to showcase their petals.
This is partly due to the geography of the area, which shelters the glen from most winds, allowing it to enjoy a microclimate of its own that supports and animals, like voles, pine marten, stoats, weasels and buzzards.
A stroll up and down the length of the glen rewards hikers with views of hidden beauty spots, including the enchanting waterfall, Flowerdale Falls, which can be accessed via waymarked walk.
A stint through the glen's woodland is also must this season, thanks to the presence of bluebells and views of the snow-dusted mountains peeping through the trees.
Nicholaston Woods, Swansea
Oxwich National Nature Reserve and Nicholaston Wood can be found on the beautiful Swansea Gower Coast. The reserve is fairly small but very varied, with a combination of beaches, sand dunes, saltmarsh, freshwater lakes and limestone cliffs.
One of the popular walks around this reserve takes you through Nicholaston Wood, which boasts beautiful carpets of spring flowers, from bluebells, to cowslips and primrose. You might even be lucky enough to spot early butterflies hunting out the nectar. Should you fancy blowing away those winter cobwebs, you can also walk a section of the Wales Coast Path through the Oxwich salt marsh and sand dunes.
Mind your legs!
On the edge of the sand dunes scratchy Marram and Lyme grasses grow, which help to stop the sand blowing away
Borough Head, Pembrokeshire Coast
Walking the full 186-mile Pembrokeshire coastal path is no mean feat – its 35,000 feet of ascent and descent is said to be equivalent to climbing Everest. Thankfully, Borough Head has a much shorter two-mile cliff-top walk that finds itself blanketed in spring flowers at this time of year. At 83m high, its summit presents fantastic panoramic views across the sweep of St Brides Bay to St David's Head and Ramsey Island.
Downhill, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Nature quickly bursts into life towards the end of winter at Downhill Demesne, situated on the north coast of Northern Ireland. In the estate’s woodlands and gardens, daffodils follow hot on the heels of snowdrops and are eventually replaced by bluebells. This walk, ideal for more energetic ramblers, takes you through parkland, along the cliff edge and across windswept sands.
Along the way, you’ll find a small arboretum with a dammed fishing pond and gardens splashed with spring colour, before coming across the spectacular Italianate Mussenden Temple that teeters on the cliff edge, overlooking the golden expanse that is Benone Beach.
If these walks have inspired you to get walking, how about setting yourself the challenge of Walk1000Miles. Run by our friends at Country Walking magazine, it's a great way to get out and about in the countryside, make friends, lose weight and most of all have fun!