Spring walking holidays: From Madeira and Morocco to Britain in bloom

Throw off the last shackles of winter with a stroll through a blossoming landscape, says Laura Holt

From the coastlines of Europe to the peaks of Asia, the northern hemisphere bursts into life at this time of year - so lace up your walking boots and get set for the seasonal spectacular.

In a flap

If you're keen to see Europe's kaleidoscopic floral display in all its glory, Naturetrek (01962 733051; naturetrek.co.uk) has a range of wildflower tours. With three April departure dates, the company's seven-night trip to Crete combines spring flora with migrating birds. Day walks, led by a botanist and ornithologist, take in Minoan archaeological sites as well as the dramatic scenery of the Samaria Gorge and the orchid-rich hills around the village of Spili. The price of £1,295pp includes flights, most meals, guiding and accommodation in Plakias and Chania.

Flower festivals

Madeira welcomes spring with the annual Festa da Flor (flower festival) from 7-13 April (festadaflor.visitmadeira.pt). Thanks to the island's benign year-round climate, walkers can expect to see a profusion of exotic blooms, especially in the capital Funchal, where many of the parades, markets and floral installations take place. Sherpa Expeditions (0800 008 7741; sherpaexpeditions.com) offers year-round departures on its self-guided, eight-day Madeira Island Walking tour; time it right and you will see jasmine, begonias, magnolia and camellias as you follow the island's levadas (aqueducts once used to irrigate farmland). Priced from £690pp, it includes half board and transfers, but not flights. 

In Japan, the annual hanami festival celebrates the re-emergence of the country's sakura (cherry blossom) from late March to early May. World Expeditions (0800 0744135; worldexpeditions.com) has a 15-day Backroads of Japan guided tour – with departures on 2 and 13 May – that visits Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Kyoto, Osaka and the Nara region on foot, for £2,390pp, with ground transport, hotels, meals and hikes, but not international flights. 

azores.jpg
In bloom: the Azores' volcanic landscape

Picturesque peaks 

If you only have a few days to spare, Macs Adventure (0141 530 7030; macsadventure.com) has a four-nightMarrakech and The Atlas Short Break that whisks you around the Red City, with two nights' staying at the smart Riad Slitine, before two days' guided walking in the mountains, based at the Hotel Tatfi. With year-round daily departures, the package costs £395pp, including hotels, most meals and transfers; flights extra. 

For those with a little longer to spare, Nepal's national flower – the rhododendron – is at its most exuberant in spring, especially around the Annapurna range. Intrepid (0808 274 5111; intrepidtravel.com) has a 16-day Annapurna Sanctuary tour, with departures on 16 and 30 April, that costs from £652pp, including teahouse accommodation, guided hikes and transfers, but not meals or flights.

Coastal strolls

To experience spring beside the shore, consider Explore (01252 883 527; explore.co.uk), which has two enticing coastal trips this season. The first, a 14-day Azores Island Hopping tour, visits the mid-Atlantic archipelago, known for its wildflowers, departing 9 and 23 May. Crossing five islands, and hiking the Furnas Valley and Pico coast, it also pauses for whale-watching in the village of Lajes. From £1,425pp, with flights, B&B, transfers and guiding. 

Alternatively, the eight-day Remote Coastal Trails of Portugal tour walks from the seaside town of Sagres, down the Rota Vicentina trail to Cabo Sao Vicente, the most westerly point in Europe, on 17 April and 15 May. Prices start at £719pp, including flights, B&B, transfers and guiding. 

Britain in bloom

You don't need to travel far to see the season in full swing. Departing on 29 May, Saga (0800 092 9083; travel.saga.co.uk) has a tour that takes in Yorkshire in time to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of England's foremost landscape gardener, Lancelot “Capability” Brown. 

Among the highlights of the trip is a visit to Harewood House, near Leeds, whose 1,000-acre grounds, serpentine lake and parkland are some of Brown's finest. The five-night Gardens of Yorkshire itinerary starts at £599pp, including half board accommodation and gentle strolls in locations such as Castle Howard and Yorkshire Arboretum.

If you prefer to go it alone, the Arlington Bluebell Walk & Farm Trail in East Sussex (bluebellwalk.co.uk; entry £5) reopens for the season on 2 April. Running until 8 May, the trail encompasses seven walks through bluebell-lined woods and across three working farms, where you can watch cows being milked and stroke some of the animals.

 

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