Step in to spring with our top spring walks

After a long, cold winter now is the perfect time to get outdoors to spot signs of our gardens and countryside bursting into life this spring. There is plenty to enjoy from snowdrops to daffodils, apple blossom to magnolias as well as plenty of wildlife, including birds nesting, hares ‘boxing’ and lambs gambolling in fields.

Here are just some examples of walks all around the country to enjoy this spring:
 

    South West

    The Hall Walk, near Lanhydrock, south Cornwall - 4 miles
    The Hall Walk from Fowey Estuary to Pencarrow Head combines the best of Britain from town through countryside via river and sea, forest and farmland with diversions to beach and cliff. 

    Signs of spring:enjoy gorse in bloom, early wheatears, sand martins and black-headed gulls (whose black heads will have returned for spring).

    Countisbury to Watersmeet, Lynton - 3.5miles
    This circular walk from Lynmouth via Countisbury and Watersmeet takes in the picturesque harbour town of Lynmouth, the waterfalls at Watersmeet House before climbing up out of the valley through sessile oak woodlands where you might spot deer. The last part of the walk takes the South West Coast Path back into Lynmouth and gives spectacular views along the coast and across to Wales.

    Signs of spring: spot dippers, grey wagtails, and hazel catkins

    East of England

    Sheringham Park woodland and coastal walk, Norfolk - 7 miles
    This wonderfully varied woodland and coastal walk takes you through parkland, fields, woods, and along cliff edge by the sea. Savour the views from the tree-top gazebo and absorb the history and rich variety of trees, bird and animal life.

    Signs of spring: the real highlight of early spring is found on the middle part of walk, by the coast, where you can hear skylarks singing, then comes the first of the summer warbles. In the woodland spots snowdrops (Sheringham has a variest called Upchers snowdrops, named after one of the families who owned the estate). Also still out in March is the ‘Christmas cheer’ rhododendron.

     

    Ickworth Long Walk, Suffolk – 6 miles
    A long circular walk on this stunning estate, passing various areas of interest such as the Fairy lake, Canal lake (which is a haven for wildlife), and the walled garden that is a blaze of colour in spring. With views of the Ickworth rotunda, it’s got something to see at every turn.

    Signs of spring: spot delicate snowdrops and aconites in early spring through the woodlands and in the naturalised garden, Then enjoy a flurry of spring flowers in the walled garden where the spring meadow is full of 60,000 bulbs, including early crocus and cyclamen, daffodils, tulips, scilla, chionodoxa, (glory of the snow), bluebells and cowslips. Further on in walled garden, seasonable vegetables grow and there is plenty of apple and pear blossom.

     

    Midlands

    Ilam Park to Dovedale stepping stones, Peak District - 2.5 miles
    Discover the limestone countryside of the southern Peak District, famed for its wildlife and geology with this walk from Ilam Park to Dovedale Stepping Stones. Starting at the tranquil Victorian landscape and woodland of Ilam Park, this easy walk takes you into Dovedale, an iconic and spectacular gorge carved out by the river Dove.

    Signs of spring: the cast in order of appearance for spring flowers in Dovedale are wood anenome, bluebell, wild garlic, cowslip, early purple orchid, lesser celandine, red campion, ramsons, primrose, wood-sorrel, monkey flower, bugle, coltsfoot, Lady's smock, meadow caxifarge, marsh marigold, dog violet and wild daffodil. See how many you can spot on your spring walk.

    North East

    Newton Pool coastal walk - 1 mile
    Enjoy a gentle walk alongside the Northumberland coast with plenty of wildlife-spotting opportunities along the way. Remember to bring your binoculars as there are great views and lots of birds to spot from the beach and wildlife hides.

    Signs of spring: spring highlights include 1,200 skylarks murmuring as they make fantastic patterns in the sky. Skylarks are one of the first signs of spring with their unbroken calls of warbling as the males hunt for their mates; the long tailed duck, sandlings and turnstones. There will also be widgeon and teal gathering with their fresh plumage, making plenty of mating calls. Watch out also for hundreds of frogs and toads as they start mating for the spring. Also look for the tortoiseshell butterfly which can be spotted on sunny days and early coastal flowers such as coltsfoot, celendines and scurvy grass.

    Hardcastle Crags woodland wildlife walk - 3 miles
    The valleys of Hardcastle Crags, west of Halifax, offer stunning riverside views while the oak, beech and pine woods are full of tumbling streams on this woodland wildlife walk.

    Drew Marsh, Ranger at Hardcastle Crags for the National Trust says: 'I love the magic of spring, when you can stop and appreciate the beauty of nature all around you. Find a spot to yourself and breathe in the space, sights and sounds of the world waking up. After the cold dark winter, wildlife comes out from hibernation and our gardens, woodland and moorland fill with fresh colour. Birds return from warmer climes to pair up and nest, and by late spring the dawn chorus is at its most impressive. It’s worth setting the early morning alarm for.

    'Our woodland in spring is a delight to the eyes and ears. Everything starts to come alive.'

    North West

    Hawfinch spotting at Sizergh Castle - 2.5 miles
    Birdwatchers flock to Sizergh to seek out this special visitor. Hawfinch are usually shy birds spending most of their time in tree tops and are easily overlooked within even the lightest of foliage. In Spring (March, April, May) when leaves are absent they can be observed easier in the trees here in the car park. More on spotting hawfinches.

    See if you can spot them on Sizergh's wildlife walk, a short walk that takes in the estate.

    Signs of spring: March and April is an ideal time for this walk, with hawfinches visiting Sizergh's hornbeam trees, woodland wildflowers including daffodils, and also the stunning views on a clear spring day. The showing of native wild daffodils (Wordsworth's daffodils) in the Brigsteer Wood leg of the walk are fantastic.

    Northern Ireland

    Castle Ward
    There are various trails at Castle Ward with stunning views over Strangford Lough – a great area for spotting wildlife. Try our shore trail (1.2 miles) - an excellent trail for spotting wildlife and taking in the stunning scenery of Strangford Lough.

    Signs of spring: Gorse is starting to flower, as well as hazel, catkins, celendines and fragrant butterbur which on a still day has a bouquet of almonds. There are Brent Geese on the Lough, fuelling up before they migrate back to the Canadian arctic; and a whole variety of birds singing throughout the daytime to include the song thrush, blackbird and mistle thrush. On the shore, sea beet and alexanders is starting to grow and plump out.

    Wales

    St Davids Peninsula, Pembrokeshire - 2 miles
    Explore Pembrokeshire’s most spectacular coastal headland several miles away from Wales’ smallest city, St David’s. Look out at island-dotted seascapes against the steep backdrop of Carn Llidi, prehistoric monuments and a fantastic array of coastal wildlife on this rugged circular walk.

    Signs of spring: the Pembrokeshire coast in spring is a blaze of pink, yellow and white flowers. Chief among these is thrift, also known as sea pink, which you'll find growing along the coast path and in stone walls and hedgebanks. As the weather warms, you'll see butterflies on the search for nectar, and lizards warming themselves in the spring sunshine. More about the wildlife of St Davids Peninsula.

     

    London & South East

    Hatchlands Park, Surrey - 1.8 miles
    Hatchlands Park is one of the largest country estates in the green belt surrounding Greater London. This circular walk follows the edge of the park and then cuts across the centre of the estate through woodland and open parkland with distant views of the house and the wider Surrey countryside.

    Signs of spring: the show-stopper on this walk is the brand new carpet of bluebells each spring.