As the cold snap takes hold, it’s hard to imagine that in a few months time our countryside will transform and herald not just the arrival of spring, but that of the ‘spring flower tourists’.
Just an hour and a half from central London, what better way to lift the spirits than walking through a carpet of spring flowers, first snowdrops, then daffodils but it’s the bluebells which usually flower in April and May (but have bloomed earlier) that really make you know that spring has well and truly sprung.
Once again, BBC’s Springwatch will be filmed from RSPB Minsmere, so as well as flowers, there’s no better place to see the spring migrations take place, either.
Suffolk Secrets is a specialist in self-catering holiday accommodation with over 350 properties on its books (many 4 star and Gold award), and has selected what it feels are the best places to capture this annual spectacle. Here we go…
Best Bluebell Woods
Captain’s Wood, near Sudbourne: A Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve and one of the last few remaining bluebell woods in Suffolk, Captain’s Wood is home to thousands and thousands of bluebells which stretch as far as the eye can see. The ancient woodlands is also abundant in birds and wildlife, deer and 500 year old Oak Trees.
Where to stay? Marshland Estate Barn, Sudbourne. Sleeps 2 in 1 bedroom. Larger groups can book Holly House Barn, which sleeps 6. Price from £366 for 3 nights or £476 for 7 nights, Fri to Fri.
Reydon Woods, near Southwold: Also a Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve, Reydon Woods is carpeted with bluebells during spring time and, later, host to a plethora of wild flowers, common spotted orchids, violets, ragged-robin and primroses can be found in abundance. A beautiful and ancient woodland at any time of year, it’s also home to an abundant wildlife population including many different species of butterflies and birds including tree creepers, tawny owls and nightingales.
Where to stay? Friday’s Cottage. Sleeps 5, 1 bathroom, 3 bedrooms, 1 pet allowed. Price: from £451 for 3 nights during April / May or £591 for 7 nights, Fri – Fri.
Best spring flowers
Ickworth , near Bury St Edmunds: A National Trust site and set in 1,800 acres of parkland, spring brings a flurry of flowers in the meadow, which is full of 60,000 bulbs – including early crocus and cyclamen, daffodils, tulips, scilla, chionodoxa, cowslips and bluebells. Earlier in the spring, carpets of snowdrops line woodland walks, whilst thousands of daffodils cover the lawns. There’s also 2,000 lambs born anytime from March onwards.
Where to stay? Maltings Farm, Shimpling, near Bury St Edmunds. Sleeps 4, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms. Price from £270 for 3 nights in April or £360 for 7 nights, Fri – Fri.
Best for Springwatch
BBC’s Springwatch will once again film at RSPB Minsmere, near Aldeburgh this year, with filming starting late May / early June.
Earlier in spring, though, it’s a hive of activity, with ducks beginning to leave in March and the first wading birds move through on their way north. Avocets and Mediterranean gulls return to breed among the black-headed gull colony on the Scrape, followed in mid April by the first common terns.
Look for the dramatic switchback display flights of marsh harriers above the reedbeds and listen for deep booming call of the elusive male bittern. In the woods, listen for the beautiful songs of nightingales and various warblers or drumming great spotted woodpeckers. Sand martins return to nest outside the café and the first dragonflies emerge in late April. Look for Dartford warblers and woodlarks on the heath, or a basking adder, fresh from hibernation.
Where to stay? Friday Place, Middleton. Sleeps 4, 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms. Price from £466 for 3 nights, £611 for 7 nights Fri – Fri.