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Where to seeSnowdrops without a cararound the UK

Delicate white flowers that herald the end of winter and the start of spring, forming beautiful flowering carpets under the trees. No wonder they have so many fans - or galanthophiles, as snowdrop-lovers are officially known. “Many, many welcomes, February fair-maid,” wrote Tennyson in his poem The Snowdrop. They actually start blooming from January onwards and often last into March. Here are ten different places where seeing snowdrops doesn’t need to involve a car. Unless you happen to live very locally, they are best saved for next year. But you can find snowdrops and other early spring flowers growing in woods and gardens all over the UK.

  1. 4. Mottisfont, Hampshire

    From November to March each year, the Winter Garden at Mottisfont comes into its own. Sixteen thousand recently-planted snowdrops add to those already growing by the riverside path. Ornamental willows and red-stemmed dogwood, winter-flowering witch hazel and honeysuckle bring colour to the greyest days.

    • Open: 10am-4pm daily (£16.50). Book in advance.
    • Getting there: The NT site says Mottisfont and Dunbridge station is just over a mile away on foot, across fields and along some country roads. The website gives you detailed instructions on how to get there on foot from the station.
    • Food and drink: Takeaways from Coach House cafe.
  1. 5. Cambridge Botanic Garden

    Cambridge Botanic Garden is just five minutes from the station and the Winter Garden is full of varied shapes and colours while fragrant wintersweet and viburnum make the air smell like spring. Follow the winter garden path as it winds past yellow aconites, blue scilla, and scarlet stems of dogwood.

    • Open: 10am-4pm daily (£6). Pre-book tickets.
    • Getting there: Come out of Cambridge Railway station and walk straight ahead. It’s at the end of the road.
    • Food and drink: Garden cafe in the middle of the garden, serving quiches, sandwiches and homemade soup.
    • Further adventures: There’s lots more to do in and around Cambridge. There are a few ideas here and more around Saffron Walden
    • and Ely. There are also great snowdrops around Anglesey Abbey, 35 minutes ride from Cambridge on bus 11.
  1. 6. Harlow Carr, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

    • Harlow Carr‘s Winter Walk makes the most of the season’s varied shapes and colours, with winter-flowering shrubs to leads the way before the spring bulbs come to life in February and March. Nearly seventy acres of gardens, among woods and water, are easy to get to by train or bus.
    • Open: 9.30am to 4pm daily. Pre-book tickets.
    • Getting there: Follow Good Journey’s directions.
    • Food and drink: Bettys tearoom in the town and the gardens themselves plus lots of other choices nearby.
    • Further adventures: There are a few more suggestions nearby in Good Journey’s guide to Leeds.
  1. 7. Burton Agnes Hall, East Yorkshire

    Spectacular carpets of snowdrops are a feature of the woods at Burton Agnes Hall. The woodland walk winds past millions of the little white flowers and you can warm up afterwards in the cafe.

    • Open: Daily, 11am until 4pm, from 30th January until 28th February 2021.
    • Getting there: Visitors arriving by bus get 10% off entry, when they produce their East Yorkshire bus ticket. There are regular buses (121 and 45) from nearby Driffield and Bridlington, and further away York, Hull and Scarborough, to Burton Agnes.
    • Food and drink: the licensed, eco-friendly courtyard cafe serves fresh ground coffee, beer from the Wold Top Brewery and hot meals made from local ingredients. Some of the fruit and veg are grown in the grounds of Burton Agnes Hall itself.
    • Further adventures: in our car-free guide to Scarborough and Whitby.
  1. 8. Cambo Gardens, St Andrews, Scotland

    Feed the piglets, stroll through the woods, visit the tea shop, spot the gnome… there’s plenty to do in Cambo gardens and galanthophiles won’t be disappointed by the 350 varieties of snowdrop in the national collection here. A winding stream-side walk down to the sea makes a perfect setting.

    • Open: every day 11am – 4pm. Book in advance.
    • Getting there: Bus 95 goes hourly to the gate of the Cambo Estate from St Andrews bus station.
    • Food and drink: the tea room serves special snowdrop biscuits with tea or coffee. There’s even a whisky distillery nearby.
    • Further adventures: Good Journey’s feature on Coastal Fife explores some more the Fife coast and Good Journey’s feature writer also wrote this feature for the Guardian last year, which includes a visit to Cambo.
  1. 9. National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire, Wales

    A mile of snowdrops spreads beside the lakes, from the Lower Broadwalk of the National Botanic Garden of Wales, all the way to Springwoods. Everything is on a spectacular scale here – 560 acres, 8000 different plants and the world’s largest single span great glasshouse (where Doctor Who episode “The Waters of Mars” was filmed!)

  1. 10. Painswick Rococo Garden

    A hidden gem in the Cotswolds, Painswick Rococo Garden is just five miles from Stroud with is farmers’ markets and great cafes. It’s the UK’s only surviving Rococo garden, full of ornamental details characteristic of this eighteenth century style. It had become a wilderness, but was restored by Lord and Lady Dickinson, the then-owners of Painswick House. Five million snowdrops bloom here in spring, usually from the end of January

    • Open: From Jan 16th – check website
    • How to get to Painswick Rococo Garden car-free: Bus 66 from Stroud to Cheltenham stops about half a mile away every hour and visitors can stroll along Pullens Road (see map below).
    • Food and drink: a café in the old Coach House near the entrance to the garden is open to all (whether or not you’re visiting the garden) and serves home-cooked food for lunch and tea, sometimes using produce from the garden.

Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount

Visit car-free in 2020!