Nothing announces the start of Spring like the beautiful daffodil bursting into life. With winter nearly behind us and the weather starting to improve, now is the perfect time to head outside and enjoy the swathes of these bright yellow flowers that can be found all over the country. Here are our suggestions of some of the best places to see them and what else to do while you are there.
Ullswater, the Lake District
Daffodils have become synomonous with Grasmere in the Lake District due to the pretty daffodil memorial garden which commemorates the great poet, William Wordsworth. However, it was the area around Glencoyne Park on the banks of Ullswater that gave Wordsworth the inspiration to write his most famous poem, ‘Daffodils‘. He is known to have visited the area with his sister, Dorothy, on 15 April 1802. Over 200 years later, this is still a fantastic place to admire the daffodils on a wonderfully refreshing Spring walk.
One of our favourite sites in this area is Aira Force, a series of beautiful waterfalls which have carved a deep gorge through ancient woodland. Wordsworth was also a keen visitor to the falls and wrote three poems about them (the most well-known being 'The Somnambulist’). The area is now very well managed by the National Trust and they have made a number of recent improvements - the well-marked footpaths make a very rewarding stroll without having to put in too much effort! A brand new off-road footpath has linked Aira Force to Glencoyne Bay (via the Glencoyne Deer Park, which provides lovely views of Ullswater en route) so consider parking at Glencoyne Bay and making the 2km walk to the falls. For more information about Aira Force, follow the link below.
While at Ullswater, we also recommend taking a tour across Ullswater on the Ullswater Steamers. Departing from the nearby Glenridding, Ullswater Steamers have been providing pleasure tours across Ullswater for 150 years and the Steamers' relaxed pace offers a lovely vantage point to take in Ullswater’s fantastic setting, nestled amongst the surrounding lakeland fells. More information can be found on their website - see below.
Farndale, North Yorkshire
The beautiful valley of Farndale (the so-called 'daffodil dale') lies at the heart of the North York Moors National Park. Each spring, this remote dale attracts up to 40,000 visitors to see the glorious display of wild daffodils; undoubtedly one of the best places in the country to view the flowers. Depending on the weather, the daffodils are usually out between mid-March and mid-April. An easy to follow walking guide can be downloaded from: www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/visiting/walking/walks/farndale.
As the guides says, it’s a straightforward 3½-mile linear route alongside the enchanting River Dove, from Low Mill to Church Houses and back, though there is an alternative return route that climbs through farm fields for some lovely valley views.
Whilst in the area, visit another impressive display of daffodils at Rosedale Abbey, visit the historic town of Helmsley and its castle ruins, or the beautiful abbey ruins of Bylands and Rievaulx.
Another property in the capable hands of the National Trust, this 6 mile circular walk on the Ickworth Estate is a blaze of colour in Spring. Combined with views of the impressive Ickworth rotunda, this walk has got something to see at every turn. Don’t forget to spend some time at the Cedar Meadow, which is home to a particularly impressive daffodil display. A guide to the walk can be downloaded here www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1356405366448
Ickworth also boasts one of the other great joys of Spring – new-born lambs! With approximately 2,000 lambs expected to be born at Ickworth this season, they shouldn’t be too hard to spot!
Dunsford Nature Reserve, Devon
Set alongside the River Teign on the western edge of Dartmoor, Dunsford Nature Reserve is a glorious mix of shady woodland, riverside walks and a wide array of wildlife. Changing with the seasons, the spring landscape is carpeted with thousands of daffodils. Dunsford is an open access reserve and walks can be started either from the Steps Bridge or Clifford Bridge entrances. The trail through the reserve takes about 2 hours for a return trip.
The reserve also has excellent conditions for wildlife and provides breeding sites for a wide variety of birds including woodpeckers, pied flycatchers, wood warblers, buzzards and ravens.
While in the area, we also recommend spending some time in Dartmoor National Park. With wide expanses of rocky moorland, interspersed by tumbling steams, Dartmoor has a rugged beauty. Ponies wander freely across the moors and sheep graze happily on the roadside. Traditional towns and villages, such as Widecombe-on-the-Moor make good starting points for exploring and offer the welcome sight of a cosy pub at the end of a long walk. More information is available on the National Park website – see the link below.