25 best day trips to celebrate the beginning of spring 2022

 25 best day trips to celebrate the beginning of spring 2022

Spring arrives in Britain in tiny bullet form. From crocus heads pushing up through the earth to velvet-green buds on a tree, each is packed with energy for the weeks ahead.

Winter is over, bringing a desire to celebrate, and festivals that symbolise new life have roots in Pagan times. Long before Elsa began freezing hearts for Disney, Britons were driving frost queens from our towns with the help of half-men, half-tree characters supposed to represent the incoming season.

There are many ways to appreciate spring’s resurgence of light and colour. These range from the obvious (visiting a flower show) to the more eccentric, such as attending a cuckoo festival, where giant models of the birds – considered heralds of spring – are paraded through the streets. Many of these traditional celebrations are back with renewed vigour this year after being forced to take time off during the pandemic.

The National Trust, meanwhile, believes frothy clouds of blush-colour petals are just what we need to lift our spirits. The heritage conservation charity is attempting to emulate the Japanese fervour for cherry blossom here by inviting people to get outdoors and appreciate our fruit trees (#blossomwatch).

Spring heralds a changing of the guard in the wild, with migratory birds returning to breed as the weather warms up. Farms also explode with life and it’s a great time to get children learning about animals and embracing nature – whether it’s lambing, or running around a garden, hunting for Easter eggs. Wild herbs appear in hedgerows and meadows, while food and drink producers offer up new creations at the year’s first outdoor markets and food festivals.

On the following pages we have 25 great ways to enjoy a burst of springtime in the UK, no maypoles required (unless you happen to enjoy ribbons and handkerchief-waving, in which case we’ve got you covered, too).

Best family days out for spring 2022

Lambing time, Nationwide

Natalie Paris’s daughter Greta strokes a lamb

Credit: Clara Molden

Wobbly-footed, snow-white newborns can be spotted at farms across the UK, with ewes nuzzling lambs at Campwell Farm, a glamping site in Wiltshire, from March onwards. Becky Bowles, from a family of fifth-generation farmers, runs educational tours to teach guests about the flock. Participants are put to work, spray-painting numbers on sheep or bottle-feeding lambs. Groups can also try sheep herding around a range of obstacles, or farm olympics, which includes games like “flip the tractor tyre” and “build a sheep pen”. In Scotland, lambing tours are possible through GoRural. There are also plenty of lambs to see at Park Hall in Shropshire.

Farm tours free for guests, campwell.co.uk and churchfarmcottages.com; various prices, goruralscotland.com; entrance from £8.95, parkhallfarm.

Easter egg hunts, Nationwide

It wouldn’t be spring without a rummage in the bushes for chocolate, and – huzzah! – hunts are taking place all over this year. National Trust trails at Osterley Park in Middlesex and Sheffield Park and Garden in East Sussex feature nature-inspired fun en route, with a chocolate egg prize at the end. English Heritage is also running hunts at some of its properties, along with traditional games such as egg rolling and egg and spoon races. Try Audley End House and Gardens in Essex, one of around 20 sites where playing its Easter Adventure Quest will result in a chocolate treat and a certificate.

Various dates, £3 plus admission, nationaltrust.org.uk; £1 plus admission, english-heritage.org.uk

Punch at the May Fayre, London

Packing a Punch: the famous puppet character will pop up at Covent Garden’s May Fayre

Credit: Ned Dyke-Coomes

“That’s the way to do it,” will be the cry from the 47th annual Covent Garden May Fayre & Puppet Festival, set this year to celebrate the 360th anniversary of Punch and Judy. Mr Punch made his first appearance at a street performance in Covent Garden in 1662, an event witnessed and recorded by Samuel Pepys in his diary. Alongside Punch’s typically anarchic shows, performed by puppeteers from all over England, the fayre promises a grand procession accompanied by a brass band, maypole dancing and craft workshops.

May 8, free, alternativearts.org.uk

Duck races, Nationwide

It’s not all chicks and lambs at Easter: rubber duck racing has become popular in the UK, with races proving both fun to watch and a way of raising money. The duck race at WWT Martin Mere in Lancashire takes place on Bank Holiday Monday, but a hunt will also run across the Easter holidays, with children asked to find ducks hidden about the wetlands. In Wiltshire’s old wool town of Bradford-on-Avon, spectators line a medieval bridge to watch ducks speed along the Avon beneath, or watch from the riverside Westbury Garden, where there will be live music. Lyme Regis’s duck race, meanwhile, wins points for reusing all its rubber ducks each year.

April 18, £2, bradfordonavon.co.uk; £1, lovelymeregis.co.uk; May 2, £1 , wwt.org.uk

Hungry caterpillars, London & Sussex

Blooming lovely: colourful clouds of magnolia can be admired at Kew Gardens

Credit: Yui Mok

Insects’ role in helping a garden grow will be revealed through an interactive retelling of The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. A trail featuring 3D installations will show the lifecycle of a caterpillar and provide an insect-eye view of the garden, with a spring plants displayed alongside. Seeds for creating an insect-friendly garden will be available in the shop, while a similar trail will run at Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex.

April 2-18, adults from £15 (child £5), kew.org

Food and drink days out

Watercress Festival, Hampshire

Jig deal: Morris dancers will perform at Alresford’s Watercress Festival

Ever wondered what to do with watercress? This colourful street party in pretty Alresford, Hampshire, has all the answers. Stallholders at the festival are challenged to come up with ever more inventive ways of using the leafy green – with sea-salted watercress fudge among the more imaginative concoctions on offer. Morris dancers perform, while the Watercress King and Queen are tasked with handing out the first of the season’s crop to visitors. Those with a particular love of the vegetable should sign up for the eating competition and try to be the quickest to chomp their way through a 3oz bag – a small bottle of water is allowed to wash it all down.

May 15, free, watercressfestival.org

Spring herb foraging, Monmouthshire

Abergavenny has developed a reputation as a destination for food lovers and spring offers a fabulous way of exploring the town through a foraging course in the Black Mountains. Organised by the Angel, a historic inn at the heart of the market town, guests will be shown where to find a range of herbs. These include cleavers, a strand of which can enhance your lymph system; pennywort, like a very sophisticated cucumber; and milkmaids, for a powerful mustard kick. The sessions are run by the foraging guide and author, Adele Nozedar.

Last Sunday of the month, from £322, including one night’s dinner B&B, angelabergavenny.com

Bude Spring Food Festival, Cornwall

Street food stands take their place alongside speciality foods at the spring edition of Bude’s two annual food festivals. Held in the grounds of Bude Castle, crowds can sample offerings including locally-sourced sausages, gin liqueurs, coconut peanut butter and craft cider. Other treats for sale will include beeswax soap, organic vegetables, Indian food, vegan creations and jars of fermented goodies. Entertainment will be laid on for children.

April 18, free, budefoodfestival.co.uk

Salcombe Crab Festival, Devon

Brown crab is a Salcombe speciality and this spring, celebrity chefs have been invited to the seaside town to crack shells and share tips through a range of cooking demos. Around 100 stalls are expected to line Island Street, which will be fully pedestrianised for the day. Alongside crab fresh from the tank will be other local food items, plus artisanal gin, crafts and clothes. You can also expect street entertainers, live music and free entertainment for children. All funds raised go to Cancer Research UK.

May 1, free, salcombecrabfest.co.uk

Ludlow Spring Festival, Shropshire

A celebration of local produce and real ale, this foodie town’s spring festival is set beneath Ludlow Castle, which dates from Norman times. Around 60 of the best food producers from Shropshire and the Welsh Marches attend, as do the breweries behind 200 or so real ales. They offer demonstrations, talks and tasting sessions – with everything from salami to cheese, cider and honey to sample. Live music is also a big part of the weekend, plus a gleaming array of classic cars will be on display as part of the Marches Transport Festival.

May 13-15, from £9 (child £3), ludlowspringfestival.co.uk

Nature activities

Ospreys on the water, Rutland & Wales

Rewind nearly 70 years and there was only one pair of ospreys breeding in the entire UK – in Scotland, which is still their main stronghold. Now, thankfully, this magnificent, fish-eating bird of prey can be seen breeding elsewhere too, though it is still on the RSPB’s Amber list. The birds arrive back from Africa in the spring and a fun way to see them is on a May cruise of Rutland Water. The Rutland Belle sets sail twice daily with a guide onboard to help spot the birds plucking fish from the water.

Two breeding pairs can also be spotted in Wales: at Llyn Brenig, a reservoir on Denbigh Moors, via telescope or a live feed to their nest, and at Glaslyn Valley near Porthmadog.

April-June, Rutland cruise £25 (child £16), lrwt.org.uk; northwaleswildlifetrust.org.uk

Stargazing in Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway

Spring is an ideal time to take children out constellation-spotting, as the nights are still dark before bedtime but less cold than in winter. It’s also a good time to look out for Orion’s belt before he disappears for summer. Galloway Forest Park was designated the UK’s first Dark Sky Park in 2009. Thanks to its 300 square miles being quite uninhabited, it enjoys rare stargazing conditions. The Milky Way cuts a lightsabre swathe across the sky from each of the park’s three visitor centres and there are various lochs to explore before nightfall.

Various dates, free, forestryandland.gov.scot

Windermere boat ride, Cumbria

The fells that surround our largest and most enigmatic lake are a brilliant emerald in spring, resplendent with fresh leaves and speckled with sheep that have been brought down from higher pastures. This April there is a new way to see them in style, from a hand-built, vintage-style Freebody Slipper Launch. The cruise is being offered by Storrs Hall, a hotel with its own jetty on the shores of Windermere. Guests are given a bottle of prosecco and can choose between three two-hour tours that take in local wildlife and lakeside historic homes. Picnic hampers can also be arranged.

From April 1, from £700 for two nights for two people, B&B, storrshall.com

Puffin-spotting cruises, Northumberland

Top billing: after wintering at sea, puffins return to the Farne Islands

Credit: iStockphoto

Having spent winter out at sea, the popular but vulnerable puffin returns to Northumberland’s Farne Islands from late April onwards to begin breeding. A pair will produce a single chick – a puffling – which they nurture in nests down burrows. To see them, join a puffin cruise to the islands run by various boat companies, including Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours. They can also be spotted, along with other seabirds, from six viewpoints along the coast at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, in Yorkshire.

April 25-July, puffin cruise £25 (child £18), farneislandstours.co.uk; rspb.org.uk


Hanami in the UK, Nationwide

Why schlep to Japan for hanami – the traditional custom of viewing cherry blossom – when our orchards dress in candy-floss pink for spring? Trusses of the delicate flowers can be enjoyed – and photographed – at various National Trust properties. At Cotehele, a Tudor house in Cornwall, trees that bear Tamar Valley cherries are some of the first to bloom. The Chilterns, meanwhile, were famous for their cherries in the 18th and 19th centuries, with Londoners flocking to Hughenden to see blossom and gathering on Cherry Pie Sunday to harvest them in August. The Victorian manor now has a small cherry orchard, plus 30ft-high wild cherry trees in the woods.

April-May, Cotehele £9 (child £4.50); Hughenden £13 (child £6.50), nationaltrust.org.uk

Daffodils fit for a leader, Nationwide

Tiptoe through the trumpets: daffodils are on display around the country

Credit: John Mill

As seasonal as spoiling your mother, sprays of yellow trumpets against dewy grass are among the earliest signs of spring. Some varieties don’t appear until nearer May, however. The National Trust recommends popping along to Chartwell in Kent, where daffodils blanket much of the grounds and the double-headed Winston Churchill daffodil can be found in the walled garden of the former PM’s home. The Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire, meanwhile, is home to 85 different varieties of daffodils and an ongoing identification project hopes to discover more still.

From March, Wimpole Estate £18 (child £9); Chartwell £14 (child £7), nationaltrust.org.uk

Harrogate Spring Flower Show, Yorkshire

The first major gardening event of the year, Harrogate is a prestigious show and receives up to 50,000 visitors. It is run by the North of England Horticultural Society, though nursery exhibitors are drawn from all over the UK. The show devotes a special space to floral art, with a competition expected to draw around 150 entries of carefully selected blooms, from modest floral arrangements to large-scale installations, with some coming from the students of six floristry colleges. There will also be a range of show gardens to compare.

April 21-24, entry £18-£23.50, flowershow.org.uk

Picnic beneath apple blossom, Nationwide

Apple orchards are synonymous with the English countryside. The 50 acres of apple trees at Killerton, a country estate in Devon, offer a blousy canopy of blossom in spring, while with its proud tradition of wassailing, Somerset also has many beautiful orchards. At Barrington Court, more than 70 varieties of apples grow, producing clouds of blossom. For the most entertaining day out, however, visit the Temperley orchards and spread a picnic blanket at Burrow Hill Cider Farm. Peak blossom is expected to unfurl in early May. On Saturdays, drinks will be served from the family’s Burrow HIll cider bus (an icon of Glastonbury Festival), street food is on the menu and live bands are booked in.

End April onwards, Killerton £13 (child £6.50), Barrington Court £10 (child £5), nationaltrust.org.uk; Burrow Hill Farm free, somersetciderbrandy.com

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London

The UK’s best known gathering for the green-fingered takes place in late spring and places showstopping blooms alongside shopping opportunities. Each year, a number of designer gardens are installed on site and compete to win various medals. Gardens on show for 2022 include a rewilded landscape, a William Morris-inspired entry, a garden featuring a giant, melting ice cube and a garden reflecting the mental health challenges of motherhood. Among the 30-plus gardens this year, there is a focus on plants that encourage biodiversity, such as hazel and flowering hawthorn.

May 24-28, from £40.85, rhs.org.uk

Malvern Spring Garden Show, Worcestershire

This Royal Horticultural Society spring festival against the backdrop of the Malvern Hills features talks and demonstrations from prominent gardeners. Expect floral displays from a range of nurseries in a marquee that is the length of 18 buses and a range of “shipping container gardens” that showcase what you can do with a small space. Other highlights include crafting areas, street-style snacks and scones for afternoon tea.

May 5-8, from £24.85, rhs.org.uk

Rhododendrons in the woods, Nationwide

Colourful clouds of the nation’s best rhododendrons – plus camellias and magnolias – can be admired along woodland paths from mid April to the end of June. Bowood House in Wiltshire has a trail of shrubs that were first laid out in 1854 along a natural seam of green sand – with the six-week display of blooms initially complemented by a carpet of bluebells. Rhododendrons are also the stars of the show at Sheringham Park in Norfolk.

Mid-April to the end of May, from £8 (child free), bowood.org; nationaltrust.org.uk

Tulips, a sign of rebirth, Nationwide

Floral force: Walmer Castle, a former artillery fort in Kent, has a battalion of blossoms

Credit: Jim Holden

Perfectly-cupped tulips are a sight to behold and two places that promise an array of rainbow colours are Walmer Castle in Kent and Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The latter – an artillery fort originally constructed by Henry VIII – has more than 15,000 tulips in its Pleasure Garden this year, with the display featuring an orange, apricot and purple colour scheme. More than 20,000 tulips brighten up the gardens at Walmer Castle meanwhile, where wildflower meadows are also alive with scattered colour.

Late spring, Osborne House from £19 (child £11.40), Walmer Castle £12.90 (child £7.70), english-heritage.org.uk

May Day traditions

Flower power: garlanded ‘milkmaids’ dance at a Jack in the Green procession to release the spirit of summer

Jack in the Green, Sussex

Tall, green and decidedly leafy, Jack in the Green walks the streets of Hastings, Sussex, during spring, wearing a crown of flowers. The giant (someone wearing a wooden frame covered in foliage) is accompanied by leaf-clad, green-faced attendees – spirits called bogies – carrying garlands. Expect singing, dancing, drumming and a bank holiday procession through Hastings Old Town by a ragtag assortment of chimney sweeps and milkmaids. At the end of the parade, Jack is “slain” to release the spirit of summer and festival-goers receive his leaves to bring them luck.

April 29-May 2, free, hastingstraditionaljackinthegreen.co.uk

Helston Flora Day, Cornwall

One of England’s oldest May Day customs, Flora Day is a street party dedicated to public dancing that has been celebrated in the Cornish town of Helston since at least 1790. It kicks off at 7am with a morning dance through the streets to the jaunty sounds of Helston’s town band, followed by performances of a pageant – the Hal-an-Tow – featuring characters such as Robin Hood and Friar Tuck. Local children dress in white for the next dance, which is followed by a formal midday dance – where the men wear top hats – then an evening dance, before a fair rounds things off.

May 7, free, helstonfloraday.org.uk

Green Man Festival, Shropshire

Every May Day, a battle takes place in Clun in the Shropshire Hills, where the Frost Queen goes face to face with the Green Man – the legendary Pagan symbol of rebirth. The mock fight represents the changing of seasons and if the Frost Queen wins, there will be no summer – though of course, she never does. The valiant Green Man then takes his May Queen to the Clun Castle Fair to spread joy among the good people of the town. Folk entertain themselves in typical May Day style, with Morris dancing, swordplay, circus skills and puppets.

May 2, £8 (child £3), clungreenman.org

This article has been updated for spring 2022.

Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

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