20 great British spring weekends

1. Cotswolds lambing and kidding
Watch lambing and kidding during a visit to BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park until April 12. As well as sheep and goats, the farm (which specialises in rare breeds) is home to Hereford and Old Gloucester cattle and Gloucestershire Old Spot and Tamworth pigs. Stay nearby at Yarrow Cottage, a two-bedroom thatched cottage, or the smart Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold. Spring is also the best time to see the Japanese flowering cherries, expected to be in full bloom from April 11 to May 10, at Batsford Arboretum (batsarb.co.uk).
Details Adult tickets to Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park (cotwoldfarmpark.co.uk) are £9.25, children’s tickets are £8.40. A three-night stay at Yarrow Cottage is from £450 (020 8740 3097,beachspoke.com); B&B doubles are from £89 at Porch House (01451 870048, porch-house.co.uk). Batsford tickets are £7.95 per adult, £3.50 per child

2. Bluebells and beaches in Wales
If you want to stay somewhere surrounded by bluebells and daffodils, then Plas Bodegroes on the Llyn Peninsula near Abersoch is the place to book. Once you’ve had your fill of strolling in their lovely gardens, there is the stunning peninsula to explore. One of Britain’s first Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with open sandy beaches, it is fringed by the Wales coastal path. It’s perfect dog-walking country, so it’s good news that well-behaved mutts can stay in the hotel, which has just ten rooms. After all that walking, you can feel justified in tucking into the hotel’s delicious dinners, using the best local produce — Welsh black beef, mountain and saltmarsh lamb, and a cheeseboard featuring only Welsh cheese. Relax with a drink at the tables in the courtyard if the weather is kind; when it’s not, there’s an open fire in the sitting room, and a small bar. For exploring further afield, Snowdonia, Caernarfon Castle and Portmeirion are all within 20 miles.
Details A two-night weekend break costs from £430-£510 for two people staying on a half-board basis. Otherwise, one night costs from £140-£180 B&B, with dinner at £48.50pp

3. Hiking and mountain biking in Yorkshire
The Yorkshire Dales look their most lush in the spring. One of the best places to stay for a weekend break is a stylish lodge at Natural Retreats, a mile outside the market town of Richmond with its dramatic Norman castle. Lodges come with two or three bedrooms, wood-burning fires and designer sofas. Go horse riding or mountain biking or relax in the spa with treatments using organic products. One of the best walks is upper Wharfedale’s triangle between Buckden, Cray and Hubberholme. Stop for lunch at the White Lion Inn in Cray with its local trout and wensleydale cheese.
Details Bikes can be hired for £10 for a half day or £14 for a full day; horse riding is £27 for one hour in a group or £24 for a 30-minute private lesson. A two-bedroom lodge sleeping four is from £330 for three nights in May (0844 3843166,www.naturalretreats.com)

4. Monkeys and bats in south Cornwall
Capuchin and woolly monkeys, plus a trio of barbary macaques, are among the star attractions at the Monkey Sanctuary near Looe in south Cornwall (monkeysanctuary.org). The sanctuary, which reopens on Monday, has pretty gardens as well as a “bat cave” with a roost of horseshoe bats and a “wildlife room”. Stay at Treworgey Cottages (premiercottages.co.uk) overlooking the Looe Valley, where you can bottle-feed the lambs. Visit the National Trust’s Lanhydrock (nationaltrust.org.uk), a Victorian country house with gardens and a wooded estate, where you can join an Easter egg trail before April 6, or book a bluebell tour on May 2.
Details Entrance to the Monkey Sanctuary is £8 for adults and £5 for children; a three-night break in a two-bedroom cottage for four costs from £434, a week from £775. Lanhydrock’s Easter egg trail is £2.50pp (normal admission charges apply). Bluebell tours are £15pp, including lunch (nationaltrust.org.uk)

5. Moth and bird walks in Suffolk
Wilderness Reserve consists of a series of self-catering cottages and converted barns on a 4,500-acre estate near the well-heeled resort of Southwold with its pier offering quirky arcade games and excellent food (don’t miss the daily fish specials at the Boardwalk). Moth expert Matthew Deans takes guests on moth walks to spot some of the estate’s 320-odd species (light boxes are placed at night to attract the creatures). Bird walks, beginning at 8am, are also arranged with a guide identifying birdsong. When you’re done with the wildlife, the pretty coastal town of Aldeburgh is close by. Rub shoulders with the local fishermen, who sell their catch on the shingle beach, at the White Hart Inn before popping next door to the excellent family-run Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop.
Details Moth walks are £50pp, including a barbecue breakfast, and bird walks are £25pp; a two-night stay at the Barn, which sleeps six in three bedrooms, is from £890 (020 7484 5700,wildernessreserve.com)

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6. Stay on a working farm in south Devon
Pigs, donkeys, llamas, sheep and peacocks are among the animals at Knowle Farm, a working farm with 44 acres near Totnes in south Devon. Guests stay at one of six pretty cottages that are well equipped for young families with cots, high chairs, baby baths and microwave sterilisers. There’s a heated indoor swimming pool that’s shared between the cottages, plus a tennis court. Kids will also enjoy the farm’s walk-in rabbit-petting section. Dartmoor National Park (www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk) is a half-hour drive and there are excellent beaches, such as Blackpool Sands with its Venus café (blackpoolsands.co.uk) serving local organic produce. Agatha Christie’s former home Greenway (nationaltrust.org.uk), with its gardens overlooking the River Dart, is only a short boat ride from Dartmouth.
Details A three-night self-catering stay in Clematis Cottage, which sleeps two adults and one child, is from £245 (02476 696909,farmstay.co.uk)

7. Red squirrel trail on the Isle of Wight
It’s a good time of year to spot red squirrels — where they still exist — and one of the best places is the Isle of Wight. Cycle the new 23-mile Red Squirrel Trail, which follows route 23 of the National Cycle Network, looping from East Cowes to Sandown and Shanklin (visitisleofwight.co.uk/bicycle-island/red-squirrel-trail). It’s an easy trail that follows disused railway lines in places. Spring is also a great time to see the gardens of Osborne House (english-heritage.co.uk) and to climb Tennyson Down in west Wight. Have lunch at Bluebells Café at Briddlesford Lodge Farm (briddlesfordlodgefarm.com) in Wootton and you can also see their newborn Guernsey calves.
Details A two-night cycle break is from £432 including two days’ cycle hire and a return vehicle ferry crossing with Red Funnel for two adults and two children staying in two rooms at the Appley B&B in Shanklin (redfunnel.co.uk). Osborne House entry is £14.30 per adult, £8.60 per child

8. Daffodils and Beatrix Potter in the Lakes
The daffodils that inspired William Wordsworth’s poetry are one of the big attractions in the Lake District in spring and this year there’s the bonus of seeing the spruced up World of Beatrix Potter, which has just reopened after a refit (hop-skip-jump.com). The four-star Lakeside Hotel & Spa on the shores of Lake Windermere is offering family packages that include entrance to the World of Beatrix Potter as well as Hill Top, the writer’s 17th-century farmhouse home near Hawkshead, and the nearby Lakes Aquarium with its otter enclosure (lakesaquarium.co.uk).
Details A three-night B&B break at Lakeside Hotel & Spa is from £645 for a family of two adults and up to three under-5s, while the price is from £960 for three nights’ B&B for two adults and up to three under-12s in the Easter school holiday period (015395 30001,lakesidehotel.co.uk)

9. Flowers and fitness in Surrey
The Surrey Hills come alive with wildflowers at this time of year. From Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punch Bowl, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s possible to walk through stunning scenery to Highcombe Edge and Gibbet Hill, the second highest point in Surrey with beautiful views across the Weald (nationaltrust.org.uk). Stop for lunch, or even stay the night, at the Bel & the Dragon (belandthedragon-churt.co.uk), a gastro pub with 14 stylish rooms. For those who want more than just a ramble in the hills, Grayshott is an award-winning spa on the edge of Hindhead, based in a country house once rented by Lord Tennyson. It’s offering energetic two-night breaks this spring featuring workouts and spa treatments.
Details A two-night full-board break is from £600pp including more than three hours of training, health analysis and massages (01428 602020, grayshottspa.com)

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10. Sheep trekking in the Brecon Beacons
How about staying in a cosy cottage next to a field full of alpacas, with the possibility of seeing cria (newborn alpacas) in April and May? Alpaca Cottage is on a farm with views across a valley to the Black Mountains. The cottage, which sleeps four, dates from the 16th-century and comes with a woodburning stove. The farm is a good base for mountain bikers and walkers. “Sheep trekking” can also be booked; before setting off to explore the Brecon Beacons for 2½ hours, you are given a small flock of trained sheep with a rope halter and a harness designed to carry your bag. There’s plenty for foodies too. See flour being milled at the Talgarth Mill and tuck into home-made soup and fresh bread in the café overlooking the river. Or go on a forage for wild garlic and learn how to cook a tapas lunch with award-winning chef Margaret Rees.
Details A three-night stay at Alpaca Cottage is from £316; sleeping four (breconcottages.com). Sheep trekking costs £35 for adults, £25 for children under the age of 16, and a five-hour garlic forage £55, both with Good Day Out (gooddayout.co.uk). Mill entry: £4 adults, £1 children, including an optional guided tour

11. Explore the Cotswold Way
Spring is a perfect time to head off on a hike along the rolling trails of the Cotswold Way, which runs for 102 miles from near Bath to Chipping Campden (nationaltrail.co.uk/cotswold-way) and passes Sudeley Castle and the Tyndale Monument along the way. Book a cottage on the route and combine a walk with lunch at The Potting Shed (thepottingshedpub.com), a smart pub in Malmesbury where you can eat local pigeon breast. If you visit during the Cheltenham Jazz Festival (April 29-May 4; cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz) you can add music to your walking.
Details A week’s self-catering at Dryhill Cottage, on the Cotswold Way, is from £850, sleeping two (luxurycotswold rentals.co.uk)

12. Go foraging in Cornwall
The Great Gardens of Cornwall are made up of 12 horticulturally important sites that come into their own now (greatgardensofcornwall.co.uk). Magnolia, rhododendrons and azaleas will be in full bloom as will many flowers that cannot be found elsewhere in the country (thanks to the warm Gulf Stream). The pink magnolia campbellii trees are particularly special. Garden lovers might also enjoy a forage near the Eden Project on April 4 to discover edible plants such as wild garlic.
Details A four-night, half-board stay at the Nare Hotel on the Roseland Peninsula is from £630pp until the end of May including tickets for two to three of the Great Gardens of Cornwall (narehotel.co.uk/breaks/gardens). The spring foraging course is £50 (edenproject.com)

13. Spring walks and Jersey Royals
Guided walks around Jersey are arranged each year during its Spring Walking Week, with groups led across the island or on a five-day tour that covers the entire coastline (about 50 miles), or you can join in for shorter walks suited to your ability. This year the week is being held from May 9-16. You take in castles and beaches and stop at the odd pub or café along the way. Most of the walks are free although it costs £25 for the five-day complete circuit, as transfers are provided from the end point back to your hotel each day (jersey.com). May is also when the island celebrates its Jersey Royal, as well as its seafood and dairy produce during the Jersey Food Festival from May 21 to 25.
Details Channel Islands Direct (08444 937095,channelislandsdirect.co.uk) has three-night Thursday-Sunday breaks staying at the Merton Hotel in St Helier from £175pp including return flights from Gatwick in April

14. Foodie fun at Blenheim Palace
Cookery demonstrations, stalls with regional produce and children’s workshops are among the highlights of the first food festival at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire (May 23-25). It’s also the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill, who was born there. Exhibits of his life have been refreshed and a Churchill Trail will take in the room where he was born, grounds he explored as a child and his grave in St Martin’s churchyard in neighbouring Bladon. Splash out on the five-course tasting menu at The Feathers (feathers.co.uk) restaurant in neighbouring Woodstock.
Details Tickets to Blenheim are £22.50 for adults and £12.30 for children aged 5-16 (blenheimpalace.com). Stay at the Old Swan & Minster Mill (01993 774441, oldswanandminstermill.com), which has B&B doubles from £169

15. Star gazing in the Scottish Borders
The Kielder Forest in Northumberland, half a mile from the Scottish border, has notably dark skies. Spring events include family astronomy, aurora nights and Milky Way evenings, when experts will point out other galaxies visible with the naked eye from Kielder’s observation deck. There are walks along Oxnam Water, and children will love the Scottish Borders Donkey Sanctuary, near St Boswells, where other animals include llamas (stboswells.bordernet.co.uk/ organisations/61.html).
Details Crailing Coach House near Kelso has two double bedrooms sleeping four; a three-night break is from £252 (crabtreeandcrabtree.com; reference 88198). Spring Milky Way evenings are on selected dates in April and May; adults £16, concessions £14 (kielderobservatory.org)

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16. Bluebell woods in Hampshire
Stay in a wood cabin in the Blackwood Forest in Hampshire, where bluebells are in bloom. Many of Forest Holidays’ cabins have hot tubs and there are tree houses (one sleeps ten). Rangers lead nature walks and bikes are available for hire, canoeing and horse riding is also possible. Join the head gardener of the National Trust’s Hinton Ampner gardens for a spring walk on May 2 and 13.
Details Three-night weekends are from £510 in a cabin for four (03330 110495, forestholidays.co.uk). Spring walks are £10 (nationaltrust.org.uk)

17. Flowers and birds in Lincolnshire
When Franklin D Roosevelt visited Easton Walled Gardens, about five miles south of Grantham, he described its floral displays as “a dream of Nirvana”. Spread over 12 acres, it has 100 varieties of sweet peas and an extensive vegetable garden which supplies the tea room. Burn off the calories by taking a guided walk with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust around Gibraltar Point, on April 28 or May 16, to spot the migrant birds.
Details A B&B double at Cholmeley Arms on the Easton Estate is from £85 (theeastonestate.co.uk). Admission to the gardens is £6.95 for adults and £2.95 for children (eastonwalledgardens.co.uk). Birds of Early Spring: £2 adults, £1 children (lincstrust.org.uk)

18. Borders and bats in West Sussex
After being closed for the winter, the modern gardens at Woolbeding, run by the National Trust, reopen on April 9 (on Thursday and Fridays only). The 26 acres are glorious at this time of year, especially the “garden rooms”, which are themed in colours including pastel pinks and vibrant reds. There are also follies to investigate as well as a gothic summer house and a Chinese-style bridge. Get up early to hear the birds from 5.30am at Arundel Wetland Centre (wwt.org.uk), or go on an Evening Bat Walk, on selected dates in April and May.
Details Three nights’ half-board with an afternoon’s gardening masterclass on Thursday at Woolbeding is from £349pp, staying at the Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa in Midhurst (01730 816911,hshotels.co.uk). Woolbeding is free for National Trust members, otherwise £7.90 per adult, £4 per child; tickets must be booked in advance (0844 249 1895, nationaltrust.org.uk). Wetland Centre adults from £9.77, children £4.91

19. Anne Boleyn and Hever Castle
Hever Castle — former home of the Boleyn family — is lovely in spring, and there are elegant new rooms in the Anne Boleyn Wing, some of them with four-poster beds, roll-top baths and leaded windows overlooking the grounds. The family events this spring include a free Easter bunny trail (from March 28 to April 19), with clues left in the gardens. While you’re in the neighbourhood, take a free one-hour guided tour of Biddenden Vineyards (biddendenvineyards.com), which includes tastings of the wines, ciders and juices.
Details A two-night stay at one of Hever Castle’s stylish B&Bs is from £320, based on two sharing (01732 861800, hevercastle.co.uk). Castle entry is £16 per adult, £9 per child (aged 5-15)

20. Foraging in the New Forest
Guests staying at The Pig hotel in Brockenhurst can head into the woods with resident forager Garry Eveleigh to seek oyster mushrooms, wild garlic and herbs. Eveleigh leads groups on three-hour walks and offers tips on where best to find edible treats. The Pig in Brockenhurst is fully booked at weekends for the next couple of months (though it does have some availability during the week) but one way you can still do the foraging is by staying at the sister hotel, The Pig in the Wall, in Southampton. Bluebells brighten walks in the New Forest from now on (thenew forest.co.uk/discover/bluebells.aspx).
Details Doubles at The Pig in the Wall are from £129-£145, and at The Pig in Brockenhurst are from £149-£169; the foraging trips are £100 per adult and include a dish cooked at the hotel using produce that guests have gathered (01590 622354, thepighotel.com)

Originally posted 2016-01-11 15:40:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter