GetOutside Champion: Ben Fogle
Ben Fogle, broadcaster, traveller and adventurer.
Spring marks the end of the cold nights and the awakening of nature. Discover some of Britain's favourite seasonal walking spots and indulge yourself with colourful scenery.
We're lucky in Britain that our seasons are so wonderfully defined; each one quite distinct from its predecessor due to the colour of the leaves on the trees, the abundance of native flowers and the low-lying mist on the ground. It would be difficult to choose a favourite season, even the tumultuous grey skies of late autumn, the withering heat of summer and the frozen ground of mid-winter have their charms - but there's something about spring; this awakening of nature after its sleepy hibernation and regeneration of flora and fauna.
Here are a few places where you can enjoy the best spring scenery in Britain - if not the world!
Just off the M23 in Ardingly is Wakehurst Place, a National Trust property which has the most beautiful gardens. The main attraction is admittedly supposed to be the imposing Elizabethan mansion, but it’s the gardens and woodland which attract the crowds. As the 'country seat' of Kew Gardens, the estate comprises 465 acres of ornamental gardens, a nature reserve and lakes. Look out for the carpets of bluebells in Bloomer's Valley, and softly-coloured magnolias and rhododendrons around the Spring Border at the Mansion Pond. This area in particular offers a 'spring spectacular' of narcissi, shrubs, flowering currants and lots of interesting bulbs.
This is a lovely place to visit in any season, but in spring, the blossom and budding leaves are glorious, especially when reflected in the lakes. Don't forget your camera, as there are some stunning scenic photos to take of the trees when reproduced in these mirror-like surfaces. You could extend your day out with a trip to the South Downs, to admire the perfectly undulating green hills with their sea views. Take the A23 and head towards Ditchling Beacon for a bracing walk and a magnificent panorama.
Voted by The Ramblers as one of its 20 favourite spring walks, this spot absolutely emphasises the variety in British landscape. About as far removed as you can get from pretty gardens, this Inner Hebridean scenery is craggy, rocky and dramatic. Fans tend to explore the zig-zagging Trotternish Ridge, which at 23 miles is the longest cliff in the country. As the ridge faces inland, it offers incredible views of the Highlands, right up as far as Ben Nevis.
The terrain might be rocky, but in the springtime, the sight of the Old Man of Storr really is something to behold - the lava formation positioned against the clear blue sky of the Storr Sanctuary's volcanic landscape is unlike anything else you've ever seen. Don't expect to see lovely flowers on this trip, but do pack the binoculars and walking boots. It's possible to do a circular walk which starts and finishes at the Storr car park and measures about five miles.
An enduring symbol of spring - if not the symbol - is the delicate daffodil, and one of the best places to see them is Farndale in the North York Moors National Park. Said to have been originally planted by medieval monks, the area is so famed for the yellow blooms that it's known as the 'Daffodil Dale'.
While the flowers have usually disappeared by the end of April, the Daffodil Walk is still delightful into late spring. This three-mile linear path guides visitors though valleys, across farmland, through churchyards and alongside the River Dove. A gentle journey, it's especially nice for the children, who can spot butterflies and birds. Look out for the nearby Lion Inn, Feathersham Arms and Daffy Café for refreshments en route.
Apparently named by opera star Katherine Jenkins as one of the best British views, Three Cliffs Bay in Gower is the perfect springtime destination, where (if it's warm enough), you can paddle in the sea or clamber over the headland to seek out juicy fresh raspberries.
Paths cut across the sand dunes to both Pennard Burrows and Penmaen Burrows, from which you can enjoy not only the sight of the golden bay but also the wilderness of natural flowers and grasses that grow when the winter months finally shuffle off. It's a popular spot with surfers and horse riders, as well as with hikers. The Gower Way itself stretches out for 35 miles, showcasing this beautiful corner of Wales. It meanders from Rhossili upland to Mawr, incorporating not only the stunning scenery but also several historical sites.
From rolling heathland to 'weathered limestone plateaux', you can definitely expect to see a variety of terrain on the route, and in the spring, it really does look its best.
As you can see, there really are so many fantastic places to visit in Britain this spring. Let us know where your favourite spring spots are.