Put a spring in your step at Witley and Milford Commons

Feel the excitement as you spot the first signs of spring at Witley and Milford Commons. Research shows that spending just five minutes in nature can boost your mood, reduce anxiety and improve concentration. It’s a free tonic, available to everyone.

Spot the early signs of spring

Early spring has a very magic feel about it - the light is brighter,  the air is warmer and the days are longer. Nature is beginning its annual cycle of renewal. See what  you can spot:  

Trees and shrubs

  • Dark prickly gorse bushes come into flower very early in the year and continue to flower for months. Some say the flowers have the aroma of coconuts - what do you think?
  • Yellow catkins dangle from the bare branches of hazel trees. See if you can spot the tiny red delicate female flowers
  • Alder trees can be found in the wet boggier parts of the commons. They have two types of catkins - long thin male ones and round knobbly female ones. 
  • Fluffy pussy willow catkins grow on goat willow bushes
  • Look out for the pretty white and pink flowers on blackthorn bushes, but beware of the sharp spines
Yellow gorse on Witley and Milford Commons
Yellow gorse on Witley and Milford Commons
Yellow gorse on Witley and Milford Commons


  • Snowdrops push up their dainty white bonnets from the thickest mud. How many can you spot among the trees?
  • In damp areas look out for yellow marsh marigold, which looks like a buttercup, and celandines with their star of yellow petals
  • In the woods, you may see wild primroses and violets
  • Use your nose and sniff for wild garlic. It grows in damp woodland and smells of onions. The leaves are lush green and the flowers look like a ball of small white stars

Play among the trees

As you explore the wider areas of Witley and Milford Commons, there are lots of places to get the family stuck into these activities:

  • Get to know a tree. It may be a tree growing tall and straight, or bent and crooked. It may be a tree that fallen to the floor at the end of its life. Measure the  girth. Put your arms around the trunk and see how big it is. How many family members have to join in to reach all around? Which is the fattest tree in the wood?
  • Play hide and seek. The bracken makes a great hiding place.
  • Hunt for bugs. Examine the bark and see what creepy-crawlies are there? What sort of tree has the most in number? What sort of tree has the greatest variety? 
  • Bark rubbing. Take some paper and some crayons. Hold the paper onto the bark and rub to reveal the pattern. Which tree makes the most interesting pattern?
  • Have a go on our new natural play area near the car park.
children enjoying the Witley play trail
Children at Witley Adventure trail
children enjoying the Witley play trail

Watch and listen to the birds

At this time of year birds begin their glorious song to attract a mate and warn off competitors.  Popular resident birds such as wren, song and mistle thrushes, chaffinches and robins will be in full song establishing territories. Can you also identify less well-known species such as the glorious pink-breasted bullfinch and blackcap? From March onwards the summer migrants such as chiff chaff, willow warbler and whitethroat will begin to arrive.

A blue tit sitting on a branch
A blue tit sitting on a branch
A blue tit sitting on a branch

Get stuck into some 50 things activities:

  • Build a den
  • Go welly wandering
  • Eat a picnic in the wild
  • Have fun with sticks
  • Set up a snail race
  • Create some wild art
  • Go cloud watching