8 January 2019
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Enjoy a crisp walk in January and February to enjoy amazing displays of the tiny white harbingers of spring. One of the first signs of life after the long winter months, there are many different varieties of snowdrops and different locations will offer its own unique and dramatic display. These will soon be followed by bluebells in April and the spring season gets underway. Here are the top picks for enjoying snowdrops and bluebells in the South East.
Gardens and Estates
In February the longer hours of daylight herald the appearance of thousands of snowdrops all around Cliveden estate. Visitors will be able to enjoy the last of the crispy winter air walking along the Snowdrop Trail, and finish off with a cup of seasonal mulled wine inside the Trust’s Orangery café. Normal NT admission fees apply. From 13 April – 12 May a blanket of bluebells brightens the woodlands on the estate. This self-guided trail takes in the best displays, highlighted on the trail map. Normal NT admission applies. www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Enjoy the majestic gardens carpeted in snowdrops at one of the most magical times of the year. Celebrate the first signs of spring by discovering snowdrops in the gardens of the home of the eighteenth century naturalist and writer, Gilbert White’s House in Selborne in February. Prices £10 adult, child £4.50. Garden entry only £6. www.gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk
During February, Chawton House, the former home of Jane Austen’s brother, will be celebrating snowdrops. Chawton House Snowdrop Sunday in the grounds (17 February 11am-4.30pm and National Garden Scheme Snowdrop Day at the house (24 February, 11am-4.30pm). Adult tickets to both events £5, children under 16 free, including access to the gardens as well as the Old Kitchen Tearoom. There will be an additional fee of £5 for those wishing to visit the house too. https://chawtonhouse.org
Visitors will be able to join a member of Waddesdon’s garden team for Snowdrops and winter flowering bulbs a FREE guided walk to learn more about snowdrops and other winter flowering bulbs as they explore the grounds in an hour and a half walk. The walk includes steep slopes and steps. (Saturday 16 February, 2pm). No booking necessary, meet in the Stables Courtyard. https://waddesdon.org.uk
Around 70,000 snowdrop bulbs have been planted at Hever Castle gardens in Kent over the recent years including a mix of single and double snowdrops, interspersed with some unusual varieties such as the yellow tipped ‘Wendy’s Gold’, a giant galanthus called ‘Colossus’ which at nine inches is one of the tallest snowdrops and Galanthus ‘Green Brush’, with its unusual green tipped flowers (10 February weather dependent). www.hevercastle.co.uk
Wakehurst’s displays of snowdrops form huge drifts as you walk from the Visitor Centre and around the trees near the Mansion Pond. A NEW Winter Garden will be opening in February and will also feature drifts of snowdrops among the 35,000 plants. Volunteer guides lead a tour through the gardens each day at 11.30am and will explain about the plants and trees in season as well as the history of the estate. Entry prices for the whole property £12.95, children under 16 FREE. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wakehurst
Good places to walk and enjoy displays of bluebells
During February, the ancient parkland surrounding Ankerwycke Yew tree at Runnymede comes alive with a spectacular show of snowdrops. The National Trust will be running Snowdrop Guided walks at 11am on Sunday 10 and 17 February lasting 1½ hours. Over 1,000 years old, Ankerwycke Yew witnessed the signing of the Magna Carta and is supposedly where King Henry VIII met Anne Boleyn. Adults £10; Children £5.
Hucking Estate in the Kent Downs offers a mix of ancient woodland, planted secondary woodland and open grassland: together with woodland archaeology remains, wonderful walks, interesting wildlife and breath-taking views of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In spring carpets of bluebells, wood anemone and dog’s mercury add to the vibrancy and colour of the ancient woodland area. www.woodlandtrust.org
There are many magnificent woodlands in the South East where walkers can enjoy displays of bluebells. Abbots Wood is a good place to spot bluebells and snowdrops and entry is free (except car park charge). www.woodlandtrust.org.uk
Friston Forest in the South Downs National Park is a lovely beech wood with plenty of marked routes for walkers and mountain bikers as well as bridleways. February is a good time to visit to see bluebells in their natural habitat. www.woodlandtrust.org.uk
Not far from Eastbourne, the Bluebell Walk at Arlington is a working farm and open to the public for a couple of months of the year when the stunning carpets of bluebells can be enjoyed on a variety or walks. There is also an accessible wheelchair walk and some heritage farming attractions along the way. Prices £6 adults, £2.50 child. www.bluebellwalk.co.uk
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