Britain's best spring walks

The arrival of the spring equinox signals the start of longer, and hopefully sunnier days, and puts a spring in the step of hikers everywhere. Here is our guide to the best spring walks in Britain

21st March 2018
Spring daffodils in woodland in the English Lake District, Cumbria

From wildflower rambles to a coastline teeming with wildlife, celebrate the arrival of spring in the countryside with our pick of the best spring walks in Britain.

Walk: Roseberry Topping, North Yorkshire

Roseberry Topping
The slopes of Roseberry Topping spill with wildflowers in May/Credit: Alamy

Towering above Newton Wood is Roseberry Topping. Yorkshire’s Matterhorn, as it is also known, sits in the far north-west of the North York Moors National Park. It’s thought that its iconic profile may have been caused by a mine collapse in 1912. The soft clays and shales that lie beneath Roseberry Topping’s hard sandstone cap are rich in alum, jet and ironstone – it was this underlayer that the Victorians tunnelled into.                  

Distance: 8 miles (13km)
Duration: 4.5 hours

VIEW ROUTE

- Bluebells guide: where to find, best bluebell walks around the UK and how to grow your own

- Wild garlic guide: where to find, how to cook and recipe ideas

- Scotland's best walks

Walk: Brigsteer Woods, Cumbria

daffs
Wordsworth’s famed daffs nod their heads to countless Lake District visitors beside Ullswater/Credit: Shutterstock

Walk past a medieval castle and glowing wild daffodils with this four-mile walk in the Lake District National Park

This easy stroll passes Sizergh Castle before following woodland paths to tranquil Helsington Church, and one of the finest viewpoints in this corner of old Westmorland, an area earmarked for inclusion in an extended Lake District National Park.

Distance 4 miles 
Duration 2 hours

VIEW ROUTE

Walk: Rockcliffe to Kippford, Dumfries and Galloway

The muckle
The Muckle’s gorse-topped summit, 100m above sea level, is ideal for little legs/Credit: Simon Whaley

Explore Dumfries and Galloway’s blooming Rough Firth, a Scottish inlet dotted with tidal islands, gorse-clad hills and woodlands brimming with the sweet scent of bluebells in this four-mile walk

Distance: 4 miles
Duration: 2 hours

VIEW ROUTE

Walk: Coille Mhor, Balmacara, Highland

Loch Achaidh na-Inich
A pleasant five mile walk, passing Loch Achaidh na-Inich/Credit: Markus Skubic

A beautiful five mile woodland walk on the north-west coast of Scotland that comes alive with wildflowers, lichen, and trees in spring

VIEW ROUTE

Walk: Caldey Island, Pembrokeshire

Caldey Island Pembrokeshire
Caldey Island lies a few miles off the magnificent Pembrokeshire coast of west Wales/Credit: Getty

Explore the historic Welsh island of Caldey and its Cistercian abbey, where woodlands resound with birdsong and path verges blush pink in spring with clumps of thrift with this easy walk

Distance: 3.5 miles 
Duration: 2 hours

VIEW ROUTE

Walk: Handa Island, Sutherland

Handa Island, Sutherland
 In spring the teetering cliff tops of Handa Island in Scotland’s remote north-west are a sanctuary for avian wildlife/Credit: Getty

Wrapped by brutish Atlantic swells and biting winds, this remote island off the west coast of Scotland makes for harsh living. But in spring, enduring these forces is one of north-west Europe’s largest seabird colonies

Distance: 4 miles
Duration: 3 hours

VIEW ROUTE

Walk: Marshfield, South Gloucestershire

The clear waters of the Broadmead Brook hold a few trout, bullheads and crayfish ©Raymond Bird
The clear waters of the Broadmead Brook hold a few trout, bullheads and crayfish ©Raymond Bird

The southern Cotswolds, just south of the M4, is a hidden marvel on the edge of Bath and Bristol – explore this secret of the British countryside with a seven-mile walk alongside rivers and through fields

Distance: 7 miles
Duration: 4 hours

VIEW ROUTE

Walk: St Catherine’s Hill, Hampshire

St Catherine's Hill
At the height of the wildflower season, more than 20 different flowers can be found per square metre on St Catherine's Hill, according to The Wildlife Trusts/Credit: Tim Jackson Photography

Walk to the top of the tree-topped beacon of St Catherine's Hill in historic Winchester with this easy four-mile stroll

Distance: 4 miles
Duration: 2.5 hours

VIEW ROUTE

Walk: Llanthony and Hatterall Ridge, Monmouthshire

The route walks along a section of the Offa's Dyke Path ©Alamy
The route walks along a section of the Offa's Dyke Path ©Alamy

Work up a sweat this spring by exploring one of Britain’s exhilarating national trails, the Offa’s Dyke Path. Running along the spine of England and Wales for 177 miles, this ancient path follows the eighth-century fortification built on the order of King Offa in an attempt to divide Mercia from rival kingdoms.

Distance: 4.6 miles
Duration: 3 hours

VIEW ROUTE

Bridge of Allan to Dunblane, Stirlingshire

Walk along the Allan Water from Bridge of Orchy to Dunblane/Credit: Getty
Walk along the Allan Water from Bridge of Orchy to Dunblane/Credit: Getty

The earthy scent of mosses, ferns and wild garlic are heavenly on this exquisite three-mile riverside ramble, where fish leap, herons stalk and weirs rumble. 

VIEW ROUTE

Walk: Aberystwyth, Ceredigion

Despite its attractions, even in the peak summer months, Aberystwyth never feels crowded
Despite its attractions, even in the peak summer months, Aberystwyth never feels crowded/Credit: Getty

This spectacular five-mile cliff walk starts at the northern end of the town ascending Constitution Hill to follow the rugged Wales Coast Path to the dramatic sand dunes of Ynyslas. 

Distance: 5 miles
Duration: 3 hours

VIEW ROUTE

Walk: River Stour, Suffolk

Willy Lott’s House – the subject matter for Constable’s The Hay Wain ©Alamy
Willy Lott’s House – the subject matter for Constable’s The Hay Wain ©Alamy

A short walk along the marshy banks of the River Stour, running from the Suffolk town of Dedham to Flatford Mill – once home to painter John Constable – and back again

Distance: 3 miles
Duration: 1.5 hours

VIEW ROUTE

Walk: Valley of Rocks, Exmoor National Park

Valley of the Rocks, Devon/Credit: Getty
Valley of the Rocks, Devon/Credit: Getty

Exult in towering sea cliffs where feral goats clamber skilfully between Devonian crags on our short circular walk around the Valley of Rocks in Devon.

Distance: 3.5 miles
Duration: 1.5 hours

VIEW ROUTE

Walk: Monsal Dale, Peak District

Monsal Dale, Peak District
Ramble the high tracks and waterside paths of Monsal Dale to revel in an explosion of seasonal colour/Credit: Getty

On a sunny spring day with a hint of breeze, the new season’s wildflowers assault the senses. Stand on Headstone Viaduct and breathe deeply; ramson’s garlicky smell drifts by, while hints of yellow, white, blue and purple ripple tantalisingly on the flanks and floor of Monsal Dale.

There’s a treat in store on this four-and-a-half mile ramble across, above and into the Wye’s twisting, wooded gorge deep in the White Peak.

Distance: 4.5 miles
Duration: 2 hours

VIEW ROUTE

Day out: Killerton Estate, Devon

Killerton Estate/Credit: NT Images
Cyclamens flower in the dappled light beneath the trees at Killerton Estate - later in spring, they are joined by rhododendrons, camassias, azaleas and camelias/Credit: NT Images

The peaceful woods and parkland of this mid-Devon estate erupt with wild cyclamens in spring – it’s the perfect spot for a sunny April walk and a well-deserved cream tea

VIEW ROUTE

View my Flipboard Magazine.

Main image: Spring daffodils in woodland in the English Lake District, Cumbria/Credit: Getty

You are currently reading: Britain's best spring walks - 21st March
Subscribe to BBC Countryfile Magazine today!

Choose a subscription offer to suit you and benefit from generous savings on the shop price, free UK delivery and discounts off special editions and back issues.

Countryfile Magazine - Current Issue