Now that winter is officially over, and the days are getting longer and slightly warmer, be sure to take time out from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to connect with nature, and appreciate the magical beauty of the changing seasons.
The extra days off over the Easter weekend provide the perfect opportunity to get outside to enjoy the first signs of spring – which is already gloriously in full-swing here thanks to our extra mild climate.
Here are our favourite signs that spring has sprung, and six of the best spots to enjoy spring in the south west…
One of the loveliest ways to lift your post-winter spirits is to take a stroll through a spring garden. The south west is fortunate to have an abundance of beautiful gardens to explore, however at spring time our favourite is Greenway National Trust in South Devon, a garden that is at its best when it’s brimming with colourful camellias, magnificent magnolias and a riot of rhododendrons.
Where there are spring flowers, you will find bees – their gentle buzzing heralding the warmer days to come. Take a stroll down any hedgerow-lined country lane and you’re sure to spot a few. Alternatively seek them out especially by visiting the Quince Honey Farm in North Devon – the world’s largest honeybee exhibition – for a fun, educational family day out, the chance to see some busy bees in action, and to buy some delicious local honey.
Spring is a busy time for birds too, with many species migrating, and nesting. There are several superb spots for bird watching in the south west, but the Slapton Ley Nature Reserve in South Devon – a natural lake separated from the sea by a narrow shingle beach – is one of the region’s highlights. Keep your eyes peeled for sand martins over the Ley, sandwich terns patrolling the sea shore and wheatears on the shingle ridge, as well as flocks of friendly ducks and moorhens paddling at the shoreline.
It’s still quite early for native butterflies – although you might spot a few on warmer days – however you’ll encounter a fascinating array of exotic butterflies at Buckfastleigh Otters & Butterflies on the edge of Dartmoor, where at this time of year you can see them emerging from their chrysalises and fluttering around in the enclosed humid butterfly house, giving you plenty of time to appreciate these beautiful creatures.
There’s nothing cuter than a fluffy lamb, and as it’s lambing season, the fields of the south west are currently full of them. Set off on your favourite country walk and you are bound to come across a field of bleating lambs along your route (be sure to keep four-legged friends on leads). Or visit one of the many farm parks in the region, such as Honeybrook Farm & Country Park in West Dorset, to give children the chance to get up-close to these baby animals, and maybe even help with their bottle-feeding.
6. Wild Garlic
Spring brings wild garlic to the south west, which carpets the region’s woodland floors and hedgerows, particularly where the soil is moist. The leaves appear in March, and are delicious when foraged and added to soups, sauces or pesto for a pungent kick. Gribbin Head walk, to the west of the Fowey Estuary in South East Cornwall, and the surrounding woodland is covered with wild garlic and other wild flowers, is a beautiful seasonal sight to behold.