7 and 1/2 of the Best Walks to See Wild Flowers in the UK
One look at the handmade Wild & Fine jewellery collection and it is easy to see that it is inspired by the natural world. Creative inspiration for the range peaks when Jess is exploring the ocean on a diving trip or strolling down a country lane on a sunny afternoon. Having returned from marine adventures in Thailand earlier this month to find the spring flowers out in all their glory, Jess has a wealth of creative inspiration at her finger tips, so you can expect to see a whole array of new designs making their way into the Wild & Fine shop as the year progresses.
Whilst translating the wealth of inspiration into jewellery is important, it’s also essential to get out and enjoy the springtime before the seasons change. At this time of year wild flowers and bird song are a sure-fire way to lift your spirits, especially on a sunny day. With this in mind, we wanted to share with you a list of 7 and 1/2 wild flower walks, which take in some of the best seasonal flower displays in the UK (and also a drink or two in one of our favourite pubs). If you are lucky enough to go on one of these walks over the coming weeks, we would love to see your pictures – tag @wildandfine in your wild walk snaps and we’ll even give you a discount code to use in the online to say thank.
This article would be way too long if we gave step by step instructions for each one, so we’ll simply point you in the direction of the best route guidance we could find!
Distance – 4.3 miles
Terrain – Undulating route on field paths and tracks
This circular walk from the car park on Coldharbour Lane near Wye offers spectacular views of the Kent countryside and takes you through the village of Wye at roughly the halfway point (so you can refuel at the pub or in one of the shops if you want to).
Wye is built on the site of a Roman settlement, but the thing we love most about the village is that it is the birthplace of Aphra Behn, who is thought to be the first woman to have earned her living as a writer. Born in 1640, she went on to become a poet, playwright, translator and fiction writer who wrote under the pseudonym Astrea. It is believed that she was a spy for Charles II in Antwerp and spent time in a debtor’s prison in London.
Virginia Woolf speaks highly of her in A Room of One’s Own, claiming that ‘it was she who earned [women] the right to speak their minds.’ This is a distraction from the focus of wild flowers, but as occasionally outspoken women ourselves, we had to mention this pioneering wordsmith who clearly sailed pretty close to the wind!
The Wye Downs Walk takes in stunning meadows and pastureland, which at this time of year is full of beautiful spring flowers. Later on in the year (June-July) you may even spot one of the many rare species of orchid that grow there.
Whenever you visit, there are plenty of photo opportunities from macro images of insects and wild flowers to panoramic shots of the Devil’s Kneading Trough – the largest and most famous of the steep-sided dry valleys that characterise the hills of the Downs.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Terrain: Undulating (some steep climbs)
Using a mixture of cliff paths, countryside tracks and quiet roads, this walk takes you from the car park on the outskirts of St Abb’s up to the National Trust wildlife reserve and lighthouse at St Abb’s Head and back via grassland and Mire Loch, a man-made freshwater lake. If you like to combine a bit of bird watching with your appreciation of the wild flowers, the cliffs offer a great opportunity to see a huge seabird colony that includes guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars, shags, puffins, shearwaters and skuas. Watch out for hungry gannets, which dive into the sea from 30 meters up and often hit the sea at 100km/h in pursuit of their next meal.
The grassland that you traverse on the second stage of this walk is surprisingly rich for a coastal situation and in some places it is possible to find more than 20 varieties of plant in one square meter. Orchids, cowslips, primroses and bluebells are all in evidence in late spring and summer and there are at least 10 species of butterfly for you to spot too.
Distance: 3.3 miles
This walk starts at a pub (the Bowgie Inn) and explores a short stretch of the South West Coast Path before looping back and conveniently depositing you back at the pub again! The route takes in two beaches and visits the village of Crantock, which is located on the site of the Lost City of Langarrow, a settlement that is believed to have been buried in sand by god as a punishment for the citizens’ hedonistic lifestyle. In its prime Langarrow was the biggest city in England, with seven churches, a thriving fishing industry and mines that yielded plenty of lead and tin.
When you aren’t allowing your imagination to run wild thinking about the lives of the inhabitants of ancient Langarrow, take some time to enjoy the flora and fauna of your present day surroundings. The National Trust manages the fields around Pentire Point West as a nature reserve and the traditional conservation methods they have employed have allowed an impressive 154 species of wild flower to flourish here. In summer, poppies, cornflowers and a whole host of summer-flowering wild flowers cover the headland, but in late spring you can look out for the wonderfully named Venus’ Looking Glass, Shepherd’s Needle and Western Ramping Fumitory.
Distance: 6 miles
Terrain: Occasionally steep, rocky ascent followed by a similar descent. The area around the lakes can be boggy.
If you like your walks to include an adventurous interlude or two, this six mile circular route may be just your thing. It climbs the Snowdonian mountain Moel Siabod and then takes you back to the layby where you parked the car via a partially different route. At various points you have the option of following the trail or clambering up the rocks for an off-piste adventure. On a clear day, this walk offers views of 13 of the 14 highest peaks in Wales and even on a cloudy day, the lakes, disused mining infrastructure and rugged terrain do not disappoint.
Though not always clearly marked by signs, the footpath itself is fairly obvious and easy to follow. Take a packed lunch for a lake-side picnic and, if you are feeling brave, pack your swimming stuff for a bracing wild swim. Parts of this walk can be fairly barren and typically mountainous, but the north-west side of the main ridge is relatively gentle and supports a variety of wild flowers.
Distance: 2.5 miles (the orange route on the linked map)
Terrain: Flat woodland trails, some of which are accessible by wheelchairs and mobility scooters if the ground is dry.
Managed by Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Bradfield Woods comprises 81 hectares of working woodland, which you are free to explore at your leisure. The wood is unique in that as it has been under continuous traditional coppice management for well over 800 years, during which time it has fulfilled local needs for firewood and hazel products.
The woodland is home to around 370 flowering plant species and 420 different types of fungi. There are stoats, yellow-necked mice, dormice, badgers and 24 species of butterfly and yet, in 1970 it was nearly flattened to make way for agriculture. Almost half of the woodland was destroyed before the determination of the locals to preserve Bradfield Woods finally halted the progress of the bulldozers.
Celebrate the reprieve given to this unique reserve by visiting it in the springtime and enjoying the carpet of bluebells on the woodland floor. Park in the free car park, explore this visitor centre and then set out on a restorative short walk through the trees.
Distance: 7 Miles
We love getting out into the wild, where the influence of humans is in scant evidence and you feel a real connection to the natural world. Sometimes, though, it is wonderful to see how architecture and garden design have been artfully employed to maximise the enjoyment of nature. Capability Brown redesigned the landscape at Chatsworth for the 4th Duke of Devonshire between the late 1750s and 1765.
Characterised by his use of rolling grassland, natural-looking water features and the careful planting of trees to enclose a vista, Brown worked with nature to frame and complement the architecture at Chatsworth. Some of the formal gardens were re-designed the 19th Century, but the park remains as Capability Brown intended. It is widely believed that the drive he created here is one of the most impressive approaches to a country house anywhere in England.
This walk leaves Baslow, following the River Derwent, and making its way through the deer-park and past Chatsworth House before looping back into Beeley, a typical Dales village. From here the route goes up onto the hillside and back into the estate. In Stand Wood look out for the Sixteenth Century hunting lodge and the views it offers of the house and surrounding countryside.
Much of this walk is testament to the control that humans can exert over the landscape, but the arrival of spring and the stubborn tendency of wild flowers to start emerging in places that no gardener had ever intended is a wonderful contrast to the formality of the main gardens at Chatsworth.
Distance: 2 miles
Terrain: Gently undulating. No stiles, steps or road crossings, but there are two kissing gates to be negotiated and the track can be muddy after wet weather.
Surrey is one of the most wooded counties in England and this short walk takes in woodland famous for its bluebells and explores the chalk grassland of White Downs. Part of the Wotton Estate, White Downs is open to the public by agreement between the Evelyn family and Surrey County Council. Managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust, this 200-hectare site is designated an Area of Special Scientific Interest, due to the abundance of rare and beautiful fauna and flora that call it home. Look out for wild orchids and chalk-loving butterflies such as the Adonis and the silver-spotted skippers.
The walk starts and ends at the (free) White Downs car park, located between Abinger and Effingham.
Distance: 4 miles
Terrain: Gently undulating
Although it is great to get inspired and travel to beautiful places, some of the most satisfying finds are often right on your doorstep. We are very lucky to be able to call rural Warwickshire home and this walk over the hill from Long Compton, through the woods and down into the beautiful village of Whichford is especially lovely at this time of year. The Wild & Fine team scheduled in a ‘working walk’ on this route on Friday and it certainly did not disappoint!
However, even the bluebells, primroses and capering squirrels are sometimes not incentive enough to encourage us to tackle the walk back over the hill after we have had a few refreshing drinks at the Norman Knight (the characterful village pub in Whichford) or a slice of cake at the Straw Kitchen (the café at Whichford Pottery). This is why we have decided that this qualifies as half a walk, as we have phoned friends and family members for cheeky lifts home in the past!
We hope this article has helped to inspire you to go outdoors and enjoy the wild flowers this spring. If you discover somewhere that looks particularly lovely (and you aren’t afraid to share your find, at the risk of spoiling it with crowds) - share it with us, as we are love hearing about your wildling adventures and new places to explore.