12 of the best UK breaks to celebrate spring | United Kingdom holidays

Apples and pears, Herefordshire

This is cider country, and the Brockhampton Estate, near the Worcestershire border, is the largest orchard under the National Trust’s care, with over 145 acres of damson, pear, quince, cherry and apple trees, which blossom in great frothy clouds from late March through April.

They surround a handsome moated manor house, built on fortunes made from fruit (as well as salt and timber) in the middle ages. A cluster of 18th-century former farm buildings have been sensitively converted into holiday lets, including a five-bedroom main farmhouse, a circular flat for two in a hop kiln, and the two-bedroom converted Cart Barn, where the old stable partitions now divide the kitchen and dining space.

The 1½-mile Orchard Trail winds through the blossom as sheep graze between the trees, and longer routes snake around 1,500 acres of park and woodland. In the orchard natural play trail, children can find and captain the Hereford Bull, a replica 200-year-old “trow” (cargo boat) hidden among the trees – and there are Easter egg hunts in the school holidays. A new orchard comprises five interlocking “rooms” representing the seed chambers inside an apple, telling the history of the fruit. Three miles away, the market town of Bromyard has lots of independent shops and cafes, and holds the Bromyard Town Criers festival on 4 May.
Seven nights from £999 (sleeps four), nationaltrust.org.uk

Gardens tour of subtropical Cornwall

Rhododendrons and camellias in the grounds of Hotel Meudon

Spring awakens early in Cornwall. In the steep, sheltered folds of the Helford Valley, just outside Falmouth, Hotel Meudon’s nine acres of subtropical gardens are quietly warming up. The path that runs down to Bream Cove is flanked by banks of wild garlic and bluebells, wild cherry blossom sits delicately on the branches and the hotel’s rhododendrons and camellias – coddled by the temperate microclimate – start to bloom in a soft blaze of colour. The garden’s stars include a 10-metre-tall magnolia and a foxglove tree, whose purple blooms smell of parma violets.

This can be the jumping-off point for a glorious Cornish garden tour: Trebah and Glendurgan Gardens are just west along the South West Coast Path, while Trelissick – with its wide River Fal views – jungle-like Penjerrick Garden and the spectacular meadow of bluebells at Enys Gardens are within striking distance. And from 23-24 March, Falmouth is holding its Spring flower show.

Back at the hotel, mid-century-style bedrooms look out across the gardens to the sea, and the restaurant showcases local produce (veg from community-supported Soul Farm down the road; fish straight off the boat). The crowds may swarm in summer, but this is secretly Cornwall’s standout season.
Doubles from £129 B&B, two-night stay including dinner on the first night £279, meudon.co.uk

Bluebells galore in East Sussex

Walkwood Wagon, Uckfield, East Sussex

Nothing says springtime like a carpet of bluebells, and in April or early May, guests staying at the cosy Walkwood Wagon, a traditional bow-top caravan in secluded woods, can wake up to this spectacle. Set within a clearing on National Trust-protected land in the High Weald, this romantic bolthole for two will soon be surrounded by those delicate bobbing blooms. Inside, the botanical theme continues: the arching ceiling of the wagon is covered in floral wallpaper. Outside, there’s a wood burner for cooking, and a Swedish bath for soaking in while listening to the rustle of the trees and the occasional steam train hoot from the Bluebell Railway. Those vintage engines run for 11 miles from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead, each stop transporting visitors to a different era: the 1880s (Sheffield Park), the 1920s (Horsted Keynes) and the 1950s (Kingscote).

Bluebell Vineyard produces its fruity Hindleap sparkling wines on the fringes of Winnie-the-Pooh’s Ashdown Forest, and offers tours and wine tastings paired with cheeses from nearby High Weald Dairy. In neighbouring Sheffield Park, walks loop through the wildlife-filled meadows along the River Ouse (kingfishers, butterflies, dragonflies), around the Pulham Falls (which link five mirror-like lakes), and in Walk Wood itself, where local artist Keith Petit has created a series of sculptures.
From £140 a night (sleeps two), coolstays.com

Surfing and seabirds in the Inner Hebrides

Blackhouse Watersports centre on Balevullin beach, Tiree. Photograph: Ian Rutherford/Alamy

As the Hebridean Isle of Tiree wakes from winter, the machair pastures that cover the island bloom with cowslips, primroses and other wildflowers. Soon newly born lambs will roam these grasslands, too. Hardier arrivals will be out on the water – cold water surfers are drawn in by the epic Atlantic swells. There’s nothing between here and Newfoundland.

The strikingly contemporary Reef Inn, with its white-washed bedrooms and big picture windows, reopens on 1 April as the waters start to warm up and the surf schools open. On the south-west coast, the consistent Balephuil break offers great views and is a gentle long run into the beach, perfect for children and beginners. More experienced surfers will like the more challenging swells of Balevullin beach on the north coast, which crashes into a sweep of white sand.

Spring is also the ideal time to take a boat trip to see the colonies of puffins (and thousands of other seabirds) on the neighbouring uninhabited island of Lunga, where the friendly birds will waddle close to visitors, who are advised to lie quietly on their bellies like seals for the best vantage point.
Doubles from £130.50 B&B, reef-tiree.com

Organic farm stay, Ceredigion

Bed made of pianos at Nantgwynfaen Organic Farm

Nantgwynfaen farm in the Teifi Valley, about half an hour by car from Cardigan Bay, is the good life in real life, lovingly run by Amanda and Ken Edwards. There’s a mix of places to sleep: a simple bedroom in the farmhouse (its kingsize bed made on the farm from local alder wood); a retro log cabin called Ty Mamgu (grandma’s house in Welsh); a vintage static caravan; and Ty Nodyn, a former barn with a double bed made from two old pianos and a single bed for kids in the crog loft. When the weather warms up there are also camping pitches, where there may be real Easter bunnies hopping around. The honesty shop stocks the farm’s eggs and own-recipe sausages as well as other organic and vegan treats, such as Ken’s flowerpot loaves, which should be ordered in advance.

Caws Teifi Cheese and Da Mhile organic gin distillery are a couple of miles away, for tastings and extra supplies, and gastropub The Daffodil Inn is down the road. A few miles north, the Llangrannog and Penbryn section of the Wales Coast Path is particularly lovely at this time of year – a mass of yellow gorse and pink thrift in clumps on the rocky ground.
Two nights from £120 room-only in The Room at the Top, camping pitches from £15pp a night, organicfarmwales.co.uk

Daffodil dale, North Yorkshire

Daffodils line the River Dove on the Farndale Estate. Photograph: Richard Smith/Alamy

The Farndale Estate, in the North York Moors national park, comes into its own in spring when the valley of the River Dove is filled with tens of thousands of native wild daffodils (smaller and paler than some of their more showy cousins). Thousands of visitors come to see this annual spectacle, so the best bet is to stay in the dale and walk up the 3.5-mile riverside footpath from the village of Lower Mill in the early morning. The estate’s 12 cottages range from converted tin schoolhouse East View, which sleeps two in a wrought iron double bed, to the newly renovated four-bedroom Mill Farmhouse. The Farndale Store, added last year, has shelves of local treats including Roost Coffee from Malton and Cooper King gin from York.

There is plenty more hiking here, and the North York Moors national park website lists routes as well as free guided walks, including to Whorl Hill’s bluebells on 1 May. Dalby Forest, to the south-east, is popular with cyclists for its intense singletrack descents and steep climbs through woodland.
Four nights from £635, farndalecottages.co.uk

Causeway Coast hideaway in County Antrim

Inside the Workers Cottage, near the Causeway Coast

A 20-minute drive from the famous basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway, the beautifully restored Worker’s Cottage in the grounds of 17th-century Camus House is the perfect base for seeing Northern Ireland’s famous coast. The Causeway Coast, which wriggles from the walled city of Derry to Carrickfergus Castle in the east, can get very crowded, but this is a peaceful spot on the banks of the River Bann, just south of Coleraine. The cottage has two bedrooms overlooking the water, and a kitchen stocked with jars of homemade granola, Bridgetown herbal teas from County Down and some homemade Camus House jam or marmalade.

April is the start of puffin season on rugged Rathlin Island, near Ballycastle, and inland, sustainable Broughgammon Farm runs Easter family fun days (23 and 24 March) with chicks, goats and calves, a spring foraging walk (14 April) and a seasonal farm-to-fork supper club (17 April). Nearby Dunfin Farm offers sheep farming experiences and, in spring, newborn lambs to pet.
From £139 a night (sleeps four, two-night minimum), airbnb.co.uk

Lochside swimming and foraging in Argyll

A ‘Whispering Cow’ walk from Achinreir Farm, near the Pierhouse Hotel

The Pierhouse Hotel sits on the edge of Loch Linnhe, on Scotland’s wildly beautiful west coast. In 2019 – along with much-lauded Three Chimneys on Skye – it became part of the new Wee Hotel Company, founded by Scots-born hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray. It makes the most of its lochside location, with award-winning menus starring langoustines, mussels and lobster from the waters right in front of the hotel.

Among other activities, it offers cold water swimming experiences in the loch with Dan Coyle, known as “Dan the Merman”. The next is on 27 and 28 April, celebrating Là Buidhe Bealltainn (Yellow Day of Beltane), an ancient Celtic celebration midway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Wild food specialist Lucy Cooke will lead a spring foraging walk along shore, hedgerow and woodland on 18 May. The hotel has also teamed up with Achinreir Farm (home of Highland Fold ice-cream) to offer Whispering Cow walks – which in spring might take in baby Highland “coos” in the fields. There’s also great hiking along the banks of the loch and south towards the great rock arch of Clach Thoull, passing cliffs, beaches and woodland, and spotting seals, deer and plenty of spring birdlife.
Doubles from £150 B&B, pierhousehotel.co.uk

Glamping in Monmouthshire

Yurt-like tents at Penhein. Photograph: Rory Lindsay

About 200 lambs are expected to be welcomed in the lambing shed at Penhein farm near the Wye Valley this spring. Guests staying in one of the farm’s eight elegant domed tents (with kingsize beds and wood-burning stoves), can also book for the popular Lambing Live Experience (£35 per tent, 29 March-22 April). Hands-on activities might include bottle-feeding and gathering up newborn lambs, putting them in pens and helping to feed the ewes.

Elsewhere on the farm there’s a new wildlife hide for spotting deer and birds and walking trails through 450 acres, as well as bushcraft courses, campfire cookery classes, yoga in the meadow and dawn chorus safaris with birdsong expert Ed Drewitt. International Dawn Chorus Day, the first Sunday in May, is when nature’s symphony is around its peak.

In spring, the yurt-like tents – which nod to the Iranian heritage of one side of the family with hand-blocked motifs on headboards and bedspreads – will be surrounded by wild garlic and bluebells. Nearby, the Chepstow Walking festival crisscrosses the valley from 2-7 April, the Abergavenny Writing festival is on 19-20 April, the Wye Valley River festival is on 3-12 May and family-friendly Devauden Music festival is on 24-26 May.
From £295 for two nights (sleeps five), penhein.co.uk

A wheelchair-friendly farmstay in Norfolk

The viewing gallery at Pensthorpe natural park. Photograph: Simon Whaley/Alamy

Chalk streams are often referred to as England’s rainforests for their rare and valuable habitat. One of the longest is the River Wensum, which winds through Norfolk – a site of special scientific interest along its entire length.

Almost three miles of the Wensum runs through Sparham Hall Farm, whose mixture of water meadows, woods, lakes, arable land and pasture is a haven for wildlife: it’s home to badgers, otters (in the lake), and barn and tawny owls. The Buttery is a converted barn designed with wheelchair-users in mind: the kitchen has a low oven and space under the sink and hob, there’s a large, open-plan living area (with mid century-style armchairs and flashes of cheery yellow), and one fully accessible bedroom and wetroom (the other bedroom can be a twin or super king). To get out and about, Norfolk Trails lists access-tested routes with photographs and notes to help those with varying mobility needs. Popular Pensthorpe nature reserve is also a 20-minute drive away, with an accessible Lake Walk and Wetland Walk, plus a hide for spotting cuckoos, chiffchaffs and willow warblers as they return here from their winter migration.
Four nights from £460 (sleeps four), sparhamhallfarm.co.uk

Poetic wanderings in the Lakes

Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s last home in the Lake District Photograph: John Morrison/Alamy

William Wordsworth immortalised Ullswater’s daffodils, “tossing their heads in sprightly dance” in his poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. Guests at Grasmere’s Victorian House hotel can wander in his footsteps. Its 20 bedrooms are furnished with antique finds, upholstered headboards and eye-catching prints; there are also stargazer rooms with telescopes and windows looking out over the fells.

Dove Cottage, where the poet moved with his sister Dorothy in 1799, has been recreated as it would have been over 200 years ago; Wordsworth’s suitcase on the washstand and one room lined with newspaper to keep out the cold. The daffs may be dancing at local community project the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden, next to St Oswald’s Church, where the poet is buried, and the warm, spicy scent of the neighbouring Grasmere Gingerbread Shop fills the air.

Wordsworth’s final Lake District home, Rydal Mount, is an easy walk away along the sombre-sounding Coffin Route, offering views of Windermere and Rydal Water, as well as five acres of gardens, which in spring will be filled with bluebells, rhododendron and, yes, daffodils.
Doubles from £127 B&B, victorianhousehotel.co.uk

Food and foraging in Somerset

Seasonal fine dining at Holm, South Petherton.

When chef Nicholas Balfe moved from London to open a restaurant in Somerset in 2021, he swerved the gentrified honeypots of Frome and Bruton and instead chose this former high street bank in pretty South Petherton, just off the A303. At Holm, he has cultivated a community-focused spot – some of the veg comes from the village’s allotment growers, and the new upstairs lounge will host events. When he added seven bedrooms last November, the same ethos applied, with oak cabinets made by Petherton neighbour Tortie Hoare, ceramics from Muchelney Pottery a few villages over, and British wool blankets from Somerset brand Gather.

In March, a series of spring events start with wild garlic foraging on Ham Hill followed by a cookery class and a three-course lunch (6 March). The main menu, too, will focus on seasonal produce, from baby leeks and asparagus to fresh spring salad shoots. Nearby, the gardens at East Lambrook Manor and Barrington Court are starting to burst into life. Later in May, the 180 acres of orchards at Burrow Hill Cider Farm, an hour’s stomp away, will be in full blossom. An orchard trail leads through fluffy white trees then climbs to the top of the titular Burrow Hill for knockout views of the Somerset Levels.
Doubles from £140 B&B, foraging classes including cookery session and meal £95pp, holmsomerset.co.uk

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