Spring Walks

Spring Watch

Nature is finally waking up for spring, and blossom growing in streets, parks and gardens is a welcoming sight. 

Notice the calming effects of spring blossom

Spending time to dwell on nature can improve your wellbeing.  Research shows that just 20 minutes could help to improve your mood. But only six per cent of adults and seven per cent of children take the time to celebrate seasonal events such as the first day of spring.

Take a different route on your daily exercise to see if you can spot blossom in your neighbourhood and embrace the turn of the season. Why not take a quick snap of a blossoming tree and send it to your loved ones to share the moment with others? Or you could join in with #BlossomWatch on social media to spread the joy of spring blossom.

For younger ones, as part of our ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’, celebrating blossom could mean you watch a bird singing loudly in a tree (no. 44) or get up for the sunrise (no. 23) to use your daily walk to see how the golden hour lights up blossoming trees down your street in different ways.

Celebrate Hanami wherever you are and connect with nature to lift your spirits, even if it’s just for a moment or so.

 

Greenham Common

Starting in Thatcham, this 6-mile circular walk
takes in the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust’s (BBOWT) Bowdown Woods. Thatcham Reedbeds and Greenham and Crookham Commons are managed by BBOWT on behalf of West Berks Council.

Inkpen Crocus Field

Hundreds of thousands of wild crocuses fill this Berkshire meadow each spring – but the delights don’t stop there.

Crocus delight

Inkpen Crocus Field is a pasture bordered by gardens on the north and east sides and sloping down to a brook to the south-west, where it rises again beyond. From late February to early April this field is awash with the purple and white of more than 400,000 blooms – Britain’s largest wild display of spring crocuses. Their small heads, some plain, some striped, poke out of the ground at varying times, giving the visitor a window of more than a month to enjoy the flowers. The dark purple spring crocuses are distributed all over the first field, with a few having established themselves established in the grass beyond the stream, where you may also see small clumps of primrose in flower under scrub. The densest crocus colony can be found along the eastern side of the field. Take care for you will find crocuses beneath your feet wherever you walk.

One local legend has it that it was the 12th-century Crusaders who brought them back from central Europe. Others believe that they are garden escapees that have established themselves over the last 200 years.

The Ridgeway

The snowdrops were a picture, but have faded now, and in their place the daffodils are in full bloom, and the hedges are bright with blossom.  Time to call the dog, pick up the stick, and set off for a real walk again!  It’s the uplands for choice at this time of year, where the surface is dry and the views vast and uninterrupted by leaves still to open. Just wrap up warm, as the wind is keen and the air still redolent of winter.

Coombe Gibbet

This walk climbs to the interesting structure of Combe Gibbet and continues on to Inkpen Hill. The gibbet was erected in 1676 for the purpose of gibbeting the bodies of George Broomham and Dorothy Newman. The gibbet was placed high on Gallows Down as a detterent to other criminals. It’s now a popular tourist destination with great views and a number of footpaths to follow through the surrounding countryside. The hill is also a popular climb for cyclists with a number of bridleways to follow across Inkpen and Walbury Hill.
This walk starts at the Inkpen Beacon car park and climbs to the gibbet along the Test Way long distance footpath. It’s a good path which leads to the Inkpen long barrow and then up onto Inkpen Hill. From here there are wonderful views over the surrounding Berkshire countryside.
The walk can be extended to visit the nearby Walbury Hill. At 297 m (974 ft) Walbury Hill is the highest point in Berkshire and South East England. At the summit you can enjoy more great views over the county and explore the Iron Age Hill fort of Walbury Camp. If you continue along the Test Way you can visit Combe Wood. You could also pick up the Wayfarer’s Walk and head south east along a wonderful ridge top path to the nearby Pilot Hill, the highest hill in Hampshire.

Hughenden, High Wycombe

Home of Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli
About one hour drive from Newbury

Hughenden has flowering trees in every season, from winter sweet box through spring apple blossom to exuberant horse chestnut spikes in early summer.

There are more than 50 varieties of old English apple trees in the orchard and walled garden which burst into beautiful blossom in April and May, together with pears and cherries.

The sheltered walled garden provides year-round warmth allowing a range of fruit to thrive with delicate spring blossom to enjoy. In a sheltered corner are quince and a traditional old English damson. Around the walls are trained apricot and morello cherries.

Basildon Park

Discover the diversity of our flora and fauna in 400 acres of historic parkland at Basildon Park. You’ll see myriad wildflowers emerging on the woodland floor on one of four waymarked walks around the parkland.

Spring Walks in Englefield Estate –

  • Early spring when the witch hazel, Camellias, Daphne bhoula ‘Jacquiline Postil’, snowdrops, aconites and daffodils begin to flower.

  • March onwards to view the spectacular Rhododendrons in our woodland and the candelabra primula lining the stream edge.

  • May when our woodlands are blanketed with bluebells and our rare and stunning Azaleas bloom.

From late September when the oaks, maples, Liquidambar and other deciduous trees provide a riot of autumn colour.

COLOURFUL CAMELLIAS
  • Camellias can flower in autumn, winter or spring depending on the species. They all prefer semi-shade and a humus rich acidic soil and their bright flowers vary from white through to pink and deep reds.

There are many varieties within the species and the popular hybrid Camellia x williamsii and its cultivars are widely available. They can be grown in a container if space is limited or they make a perfect addition to woodland or garden borders.

Camellias
  • Camellias should generally be planted through the autumn to early spring, however can be set out any month of the year if they are properly cared for.
BRIGHT ACONITES

 

  • Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) have bright yellow cup like blooms that spread by seed, forming a wonderful carpet of ground cover to rival snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis). I prefer to plant both of these when they are in flower to be reassured that they will flower. As they both like the same moist semi-shaded conditions they are good companions.

Bulbs for both acronites and snowdrops are available in the autumn to plant or available in the spring in pots, usually in flower. Both snowdrops and aconites are also planted ‘in the green’ which means that they have finished flowering and can be planted out into the garden normally early March.

CHRISTMAS BOXES
  • Sarcococca, or Christmas box as they are better known, have a powerful sweet scent which is surprising from such small insignificant white flowers.  They are a useful evergreen shrub that can be planted near a path, in a pot or in the ground.

They are surprisingly easy to grow and maintain, providing a splash of green all year round and small white flowers in the winter and spring. You can plant them any time of the year, but avoid times when the soil is waterlogged, frozen or extremely dry.

WINTER CHERRY TREE
  • Prunus x subhirtella ‘autumnalis’ is a winter flowering cherry tree whose small flowers are not as showy as the spring flowering prunus, but stand out more for the delicate canopy created by the mass of flowers. 

In addition to their showy spring flowers, the trees – sometimes known as the rosebud cherry or winter cherry – often provide good autumn colour too, so you can have that flash of colour all year round. They can be planted any time of the year, but again avoid planting during particularly dry or particularly wet and cold spells.

WITCH HAZEL
  • Hamammelis, more commonly known as witch hazel, has flowers which look like lemon peel with a zingy appearance and a wonderful intense perfume.  Plant these in semi-shade in autumn or winter and with other winter flowers such as Iris reticulate or Erica x darleyensis if in a more formal setting, otherwise they look splendid in the woodland.

Witch hazels can be damaged by hard frost, so avoid planting them in frost pockets or be prepared with protection during particularly harsh cold spells.

DELIGHTFUL DAPHNES
  • Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is a hybrid daphne that spreads easily in a woodland setting and not only has pretty flowers but a beautiful scent. Just like the Christmas box they are a cheerful addition near a door or seating place.

More or less an evergreen shrub, its purple-pink flowers bloom late winter followed by black berries in the summer. Plant in the spring in partial-shade for best results.

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