Britain truly comes alive in the spring! Fresh blooms, cute new-born wildlife, the crisp air and a chance to discover the many legends associated with the countryside make it the perfect time to get out and explore.
1. Meet the animals at a city farm
With more than 200 city farms across Britain, sandwiched in between shops, railway bridges and other urban developments, you can get up close and personal with an array of cute and cuddly critters. And spring brings with it a number of new-borns too, including lambs, kids and piglets.
Hounslow Urban Farm, in the shadow of Heathrow Airport, hosts regular animal encounters, a pig meet-and-greet and owl displays, while Spitalfields City Farm is home to several rare breed animals and carefully manicured garden spaces. Canary Wharf provides the backdrop for Mudchute Park and Farm, a working farm and stables set in 32 acres of countryside on the Isle of Dogs where you’ll find alpaca, an abundance of goats and other species.
Gorgie City Farm in the heart of Edinburgh and Windmill Hill City Farm in Bristol also house plenty of pigs, sheep, goats and poultry, while guinea pigs and rabbits continue to be a hit with adults and children alike.
2. Relax in Britain’s many city parks
Take a swim in one of the country’s many lidos, or enjoy the scenery from the comfort of a boat – vessels are available for hire on the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park, or in nearby Regent’s Park. Alternatively, wander around Richmond Park – once the hunting ground of kings and now London’s largest Site of Special Scientific Interest that’s home to herds of deer and ancient oaks. Keep an eye out for splendid views of the capital and the dome of St Paul’s cathedral.
3. Travel full steam ahead on vintage railways
Vintage railways criss-cross their way all over Britain, providing a relaxing and serene steam-driven experience. Bask in the beautiful colours of the spring countryside while looking out for eye-catching landmarks, new-born wildlife and more…
The spectacular Glenfinnan viaduct is impressive in its own right, but the sight of The Jacobite steam train – also known as the Hogwart’s Express for its starring role in the Harry Potter films – crossing it is something not to be missed in early spring. The route from Fort William to Mallaig sets out from under the shadow of Ben Nevis and weaves its way through the Highlands, providing ample opportunity to take in the breath-taking views on offer.
Alternatively, explore the heart of Sussex from aboard a wonderfully preserved locomotive on the aptly named Bluebell Railway, part of the Lewes to East Grinstead line. Or go full steam ahead on the Avon Valley Railway, a lovingly restored stretch of line that includes Bitton, a painstakingly restored original Victorian Midland station. The majority of Britain’s National Parks also have vintage railways chugging through them, with the Dartmoor Railway being another notable example.
4. Enjoy spring views from tall buildings
Breathe in the fresh spring air, marvel at the spectacular views and enjoy a period of reflection from one of Britain’s many tall buildings, enabling you to enjoy stunning landscapes from high places.
The Monument commemorates the start of the Great Fire of London. If it were to be laid on its side, the 202 foot column would show the distance to Pudding Mill Lane and the site of the bakery where the fire first began. Enjoy spectacular views of the River Thames and of London’s key sights from the top, or journey a small distance to St Paul’s Cathedral where you can climb the 528 steps to the Golden Gallery to look out over London from 111 metres up.
If you prefer the countryside, venture to the Northern Cotswolds where you’ll find the Broadway Tower, one of England’s outstanding viewpoints. Alongside immersive galleries spread across three floors, there’s a viewing platform at the top where you can see for more than 60 miles in any direction – giving you potential views of an incredible 16 counties.
5. Explore magical sights and locations
From ancient fortifications and roads to interesting cave systems and mystical ruins, Britain is packed full of magical locations where your imagination can run wild.
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, is renowned for its spectacular geography, fascinating mythology and incredible views. Part of the mysterious interlocking basalt columns are the Giant’s Boot, a basaltic dyke known as The Camel, and the Wishing Chair – a natural throne formed by a perfectly arranged set of columns.
Found on Cornwall’s rugged northern coast between Bude and Padstow, is a location that is inseparably linked to the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table – Tintagel Castle. Discover its rich history and stunning views before venturing down to Merlin’s Cave, said to be the home of the great wizard. Plan your trip in advance though, as the cave fills with water at high tide!
One of the Seven Wonders of Wales, the Pistyll Rhaeder waterfall near Llanrhaedr-ym-Mochnant is Britain’s tallest, with water cascading around 80 metres down the cliff face. The enchanting spot comes alive in the spring when fresh foliage covers the hills, while you can explore the captivating landscape by climbing a hilltop footpath to take in the truly exceptional views.
The waters of the Mermaid’s Pool in Derbyshire are said to have healing qualities, and legend says a water nymph still bathes in its waters. The small pool, situated just below Kinder Scout in the High Peaks, was purportedly a popular site for ancient Celtic water worship rituals.
6. Stroll through fragrant bluebell woods
Britain is home to a significant proportion of the world’s bluebell population, and their bright purple blooms lighten up wooded areas, hedge rows and on cliff tops from early spring. In flower from late April and early May, head off for a stroll in any of Britain’s woodland areas and you should come across some of the nation’s best natural wonders.
The National Trust’s Dunham Massey site in Cheshire is renowned for its Bluebell Meadow, where around 10,000 of the species bloom every spring. The woodlands around Speke Hall, just outside Liverpool, also come alive with the sights and smells of bluebells in the fresh spring air.