Enjoying spring is going to be difficult this year, but our tipsters know beautiful countryside and gardens where you may well be alone with nature. Please check with each site before travelling; many places are taking decisions on whether to close or remain open on a day-to-day basis.
Winning tip: Lake District bluebells
This spring we may all be looking for more remote places where safe social distancing is easy, and Rannerdale Knotts fits the bill perfectly. In late April, the fellside is carpeted with a truly amazing display of bluebells. There’s a three-mile circular walk from Buttermere village, taking in views of three lakes, waterfalls and higher peaks all around. But the bluebells are the big draw. It’s a photographer’s paradise but visitors are asked not to trample the plants.
Springs in spring, Bedfordshire
Part of the Chilterns, the Barton Hills are host to springs that are mentioned in The Pilgrim’s Progress. Water has never stopped flowing and the chalk downland around (a site of special scientific interest) is fantastic and protected as a nature reserve by Natural England. The spring is a lovely place for children to splash around in. You can also scramble up the paths through the woods and try to find Ravensburgh Castle (you’ll need an OS map), an iron age fortification. There is free parking nearby on Old Road, and it’s a 30-minute walk through the countryside from there. As you walk, look out for the spring-flowering pasqueflower, a rarish purple beauty known as the “anemone of Passiontide”. The hills are steep but you don’t have to climb them, though if you do race to the top there are magnificent views. A special, ancient place.
Daffodil delight, Nottinghamshire
Post-industrial Nottinghamshire isn’t the first area spring-seeking plant lovers might think of. Yet a mere half mile from the M1, dreaming in its daffodil-swathed valley, nestles the hidden gem of Felley Priory Gardens. There’s a riot of primulas to enjoyand a little nursery that’s fun to have a nose round.