With winter over and warmer, sunnier weather on the way, spring is a fantastic time of year to blow away the winter cobwebs and get out into the countryside for a spring walk.
From woodland to open countryside, coastal walks to picturesque villages, the UK is home to a number of fantastic walks that will allow you to enjoy the region’s abundant flora and fauna while getting a healthy dose of fresh air.
Lovers of spring flowers will enjoy the Daffodil Walk in Farndale, North Yorkshire. This one and a half mile walk sees around 40,000 daff lovers each year, all keen to see the carpet of bright yellow flowers that are reputed to have been planted by medieval monks who lived at the nearby Rievaulx Abbey. The walk takes you past both pubs and cafes that are perfect for a spot of refreshment.
For a longer walk through the countryside of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, the Three Shires Way is a 49 mile walk with plenty of accommodation en route, making it the perfect leisurely walking break. The walk is a bridleway walk that passes through beautiful rural areas and the remains of ancient woodlands, and takes in picturesque historic villages including Shelton, Knotting and Lavendon.
Alternatively, head west and enjoy all that Gloucestershire‘s Cotswold Way has to offer. The route is 100 miles in total, running all the way from Bath to Chipping Campden, and features not only beautiful rolling Cotswold landscapes, but a great deal of history too. Depending on which part of the route you choose to walk, you will be able to visit Snowshill Manor, Sudeley Castle and Hailes, which is home to the ruins of a stunning abbey.
Those looking for lowland walking may enjoy a trip to the South Downs in Sussex, and the popular South Downs Way. The village of Steyning makes the perfect starting point for a number of circular South Downs walks that start from the village, with a huge number of old drovers’ paths scattered across the rolling landscapes and beautiful chalk cliffs. One of the most popular South Downs Way routes is the ascent up to Chanctonbury Ring: the remains of a hill fort from the Iron Age which is circled with a ring of beech trees.
If you would prefer a bracing coastal walk, head to Wales and the Millennium Coastal Path in Llanelli. This 22 mile stretch of pathway is completely traffic free, open to pedestrians and cyclists only, and takes in both coastline and stunning woodland. The walk starts at Llanelli’s Discovery Centre, where bikes can also be hired, and takes visitors through an old steelworks that has now been converted into a water park complete with lake and a variety of wildlife. The walk continues through a nature reserve and past Burry Port marina before reaching Pembrey Forest – a sand dune forest that is home to a plethora or wildlife and which offers a variety of walking routes of different difficulties.
Bird watchers should head to the north west of England to Sizergh Castle, where they may, in spring, be able to catch a glimpse of the haw finch. Shy by nature, the haw finch lives at the very tops of the trees – and when foliage is more sparse in spring, it’s a great time to try and spot them. The Sizergh Wildlife Walk also gives walkers a chance to see the estate’s hornbeam trees and various woodland flowers – including Wordsworth’s daffodils.
Those who enjoy walking but also need to entertain children could visit the Wyre Forest, located on the border of Worcestershire and Shropshire. The forest is one of the largest ancient woodlands that is still in existence in England today, and spring sees the forest come to life with seas of celandines, daffodils and bluebells carpeting the area. You may even see kingfishers or fallow deer if you are lucky! The forest is home to a variety of trails to suit all ages and abilities – and if the children get bored, it is also home to zip wire adventure park Go Ape.
Just west of Halifax, Yorkshire, you can enjoy the Hardcastle Crags woodland wildlife walk – and spring time is the perfect time of year to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the area. With beautiful birds returning from warmer shores, animals coming out of hibernation and trees and flowers coming back to life, you can enjoy a gentle ramble through the beech, oak and pine woods with their tumbling streams and stunning views.
Lovers of Scotland should use spring as a time to enjoy the Knoydart Peninsula in the Scottish Highlands: a remote peninsula that is separated from the rest of Scotland by an imposing ring of mountains. Visitors must make the sea crossing from Mallaig to enjoy the area, which offers guided walks and tours for those unfamiliar with the location – the weather can be unpredictable and safety is paramount. Walks in the Knoydart Peninsula include more gentle options such as meandering coastal walks, as well as more challenging ascents that can sometimes require specialist equipment. Those who do take the more challenging options such as Sgurr Coire Choinnichean will be rewarded with some fantastic views across the whole peninsula, and will be able to enjoy a drink at the one and only pub in Inverie – The Old Forge – a truly remote location where the population is just 80 people.
Alternatively, head east to Norfolk and a bit of sea air as you walk the Norfolk Coast Path – the perfect place in which to dust off those winter cobwebs and come out of hibernation. The bracing sea air can be enjoyed on the journey through sand dunes and salt marshes – and if you want to try different stretches of the Norfolk Coast Path without walking the whole lot, the Coasthopper bus service can take you from location to location. Bird watchers can also enjoy guided bird walks arranged by the RSPB.
Why not stay at…
The Cottage at Greyfriars nr. Olney is situated in the village of Cold Brayfield with easy access to the lovely Three Shires Way. It sleeps 4 and offers Wi-Fi. Take a look at the listing on cottages4you.