travel

Along with the first hints pof warmer days to come, spring is one of the most beatuful seasons of the year. Travel editor David Wickers suggests a variety of places where you will find spring at its seasonal prime- both close to home and further afield

Summoned by bells

Description: Blickling Hall in Norfolk

Blickling Hall in Norfolk

There are few more uplifting sights, especially after a tough winter, than ancient woodlands densely carpeted in bluebells. Three Notional Trust (0844 800 1895; www.thenationaltrust.org.uk) properties famed for their particularyly glorious displays are Blickling Hall in Norfolk (pictured), Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, and Lanhydrock, near Bodmin in Cornwall.

Floral tributes

Description: Limestone wall in the Burren on the west coast of Ireland

Limestone wall in the Burren on the west coast of Ireland

The Burren, a place grey limestone pavement in the west of Ireland, is an unlikely stage for one of the greatest floral displays. The entire 100- squre- mile plateau is like one enormous rock garden. Look first and you see nothing, but then peer into the grykes, the cracks and crevices in the bony stone and you will see Mediterranean, Artic and Alpine species of orchid) with the commonplace. Naturetrek (01962 733051; www.naturetrek.co.uk) has a four- day trip leaving 22 May, prime time for flowers, for $754 including half board; flights extra.

Food for free

Description: The Hell Bay Hotel on the island of Bryher

The Hell Bay Hotel on the island of Bryher

For the first warm breath of an English spring, set your compass to the west. Among the seasonal activities on offer on the Isles of Scilly, for example, is a Wild Food Foraging break organised by the Hell Bay Hotel (01720 422974; www. Hellbay.co.uk) on the island of Bryher. Expert Rachel Lambert will take guests to harvest edible plants that will be used by the hotel’s chef to prepare dinner- served, if it is warm, on the terrace with views of the Atlantic. Four nights from 12 April costs $ 1318 half board, including return helicopter flights, guided walks, boat trips and entry to the Abbey Garden on Tresco.

Green Italy

Description: the Italian Riviera

the Italian Riviera

In April, the glorious 19th- century garden on the Italian Riviera are ablaze with colout and frangrance. Kudu Travel (01722 716167; www. Kudutravel.com) has an eacorted trip that takes in several, including Villa Hanbury, sited on a promotory above the sea; the private gardens of the Villa Piacenza Boccanegra, planted with exotic species by the botanist Ellen Willmott; and Villa Grock, whose eccentricity reflects the character of the original owner, a clown called Grock. One week from 15 April costs from $ 3185, including meals with wine, entrances, transport and a ticket to see Punccini’s Turandot in Genoa; fights extra.

Golden gaffs

Description: Sea Wood Nature Reserve at Whitbarrow

Sea Wood Nature Reserve at Whitbarrow

Wild daffodils, icons of British springtime, can be seen in late March and early April on the Lakeland shores of Ullswater, where Wordswoth came across his famous ‘host’. But in fact they are more abundant in the south of Cumbria, in the open woodlands of Willington Woods near Ulverston, Sea Wood Nature Reserve at Whitbarrow (for more details, phone 01539 822222 or visit www. Golakes.co.uk). the blooms in Farndale in the North York Moors National Park- which this year celebrates its 60th birthday- attract some 40,000 visitors. Thery are best admired along the banks of the River Dove between Low Mill and Church Houses. There is even a ‘Daffy Caffy’ along the way and a ‘Daffodil Bus’ that links Hutton- le- Hole with both ends of the three- mile walk (www.northyorkoors.org.uk/moorsbus).

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