Where to seeSnowdrops without a cararound the UK

Delicate white flowers herald the end of winter and the start of spring, forming beautiful carpets in woods and gardens. 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 across the UK where seeing snowdrops doesn’t need to involve a car.

  • County: around the UK
  • Great for: bird watching | castles | flowers | gardens | good cafés and pubs | historic houses | winter outings |
  • Refreshments: Lots of lovely tea rooms in very different gardens
  • Please note: researched/updated November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 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. Enjoy the purple thickets of dwarf irises, which flower from late January to early March at Harlow Carr, and a subtle scent of vanilla from the flowering sweet box.

    • Open daily. Free for RHS members.
    • Getting there: Follow Good Journey’s directions. Walking from Harrogate railway station, you can stroll through Valley Gardens, a great winter park in its own right
    • Food and drink: There’s a Bettys tearoom in the town and by 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. Burton Agnes Hall, East Yorkshire

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

    • Open: Woodland, gardens, shops and cafe will be open to visitors daily 11am to 4pm for most of February. Check the website for more details.
    • Getting there: Regular bus 121 from nearby Driffield and Bridlington stops close to Burton Agnes. Follow Good Journey’s directions.
    • Food and drink: the licensed, eco-friendly courtyard café serves takeaway hot meals made from local ingredients and seriously good coffee. 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 and our feature writer’s car-free trip to Bridlington in the Guardian, which includes a visit to Burton Agnes.
  1. Cambo Gardens, Fife

    A walled garden full of spring flowers, a vegan cafe, a local distillery… there’s plenty to do around the Cambo estate 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.

    • Gardens and café are open: daily from 10am to 4pm.
    • 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 more of the area and Good Journey’s feature writer also wrote this guide for the Guardian, which includes a visit to Cambo.
  1. Painswick Rococo Garden, Gloucestershire

    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 daily until late February for snowdrop season. Book ahead!
    • How to get to Painswick Rococo Garden car-free: Bus 66 runs hourly from Stroud to Cheltenham and stops about half a mile away from the garden. Visitors can stroll along Pullens Road. It runs on Sunday too, but a bit less frequently.
    • 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.
  1. Benington Lordship Gardens, Hertfordshire

    Naturalised snowdrops drift down the banks of a steep-sided moat around a ruined Norman tower at Benington Lordship Gardens. Hellebores, yellow aconites, orange-stemmed willow and early daffs add to the February display. Single and double snowdrops grow beside a path above the moat; and hundreds of unusual varieties grow in the borders and kitchen garden, including the large-flowered ‘Mighty Atom’.

    • Opening times for 2023: Check Benington Lordship website.
    • Getting there: From the railway station at Ware in Hertfordshire, turn left down station road to Amwell End and get bus 384; it runs every few hours Monday to Saturday (plan ahead!)
    • Food and drink: hot soup and cream teas are available in the lovely old tea room.
    • Further adventures: For more things to see near Hertford and Ware, see our Good Journey feature.