10 Great British spring breaks
Daffodils, blossom and lambs are all starting to make an appearance – so it's time to shake off winter and get outdoors, says Kate Simon
Kate Simon is the Travel Correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. She was Travel Editor of The Independent on Sunday from 2005 to 2011. Kate is also the co-founder of Little Black Book Creative (www.lbbcreative.co.uk), which offers editorial services, media relations consultancy and travel-writing training.
Saturday 01 March 2014
Everyone's keen to see the back of this winter, so it's no surprise that the travel industry across the UK has been quick to roll out ideas for celebrating the arrival of spring. And there are plenty of enjoyable ways to embrace the new season, from foraging the newly blooming hedgerows for edible delights, to breathing in the spring air on a refreshing cycle ride.
Step out in Scotland
Get on the Rob Roy Way in the Highlands on a new self-guided week's walk from Wilderness Scotland (01479 420020; wildernessscotland.com). It traces the footsteps of the Scottish outlaw on the long-distance path, but the journey will be somewhat less arduous, with luggage transfers and cosy rooms laid on at B&Bs along the route. The trip, available from 1 April, costs from £565 per person, based on two sharing, including B&B, luggage transfers and maps.
Follow the scent to Cumbria
The Cottage in the Wood (01768 778409; thecottageinthewood.co.uk), in Cumbria's Whinlatter Forest, has an enviable location for showcasing spring blossoms. Drifts of bluebells and hosts of daffodils are among the natural attractions promising to tempt guests in search of pretty walks in the spring air at this 17th-century coaching inn.
The Spring Watching Retreat is available from March to May for £220pp, based on two people sharing, including two nights' B&B, one afternoon tea and a local tasting menu with wine flight on one evening.
To the tower in Staffordshire
Rising above the Staffordshire Moorlands, the Victorian Grade II-listed water tower at Cheddleton has been a landmark for more than a century. These days, it offers a quirky base for holidaymakers, having just been offered for hire. Inside, the original character remains but there's a distinctly modern touch. The property sleeps 11 in five bedrooms (four bathrooms), and has two living rooms, a kitchen-diner and a games room. Go to the eighth floor for a 360-degree view of the countryside waiting to be explored.
Four nights' self-catering costs from £807 through English Country Cottages (0845 268 0785; english-country-cottages.co.uk).
Get in the saddle in the Derbyshire Peaks
The Peak District is home to two former railways that now provide traffic-free greenways. Saddle Skedaddle (0191 265 1110; www.skedaddle.co.uk) has designed a new three-day, self-guided cycle ride for families taking in both. It starts in Bakewell, heading off along the High Peak trail to Ashbourne, then returns along the Tissington Trail. B&B and luggage transfers provided. It's available from April, from £170pp, based on two sharing, with discounts for children.
Cast off in the Brecon Beacons
Fancy trying your hand with a rod and line? Fly-fishing expert Kim Tribe has been enlisted to tutor guests in the art by TasteInnWales (01874 665387; tasteinnwales.com), three hotels in the Brecon Beacons. From the start of the fly-fishing season, 3 March, Kim will take guests into local waters, including the rivers Usk and Towy, to learn to cast and improve techniques, stalking wild trout and landing sea trout.
A two-day fishing break costs £350 per person, based on two sharing, including one night's half board, permits, rod licence, kit and coaching. A three-day break costs £525.
Go lambing in Rye
There's no surer sign that spring is here than lambs frolicking in the fields. At Hare Farm Hideaways (07802 979348; harefarmhideaways.co.uk) near Rye in East Sussex, more than 1,100 ewes are lambed from March into early May, and the newborns and their mothers live around a shepherd's hut that's available to hire. This year the farm is launching lambing courses, where you can learn about sheep care, watch lambs being born and possibly bottle-feed an orphan, too.
The Shepherd's Hut, sleeping two, costs from £100 per night. Lambing courses are available from £50 per person.
Serve up a treat on the Isle of Wight
Sharpen your culinary skills at one of the masterclasses being held this spring at The Hambrough (01983 856333; thehambrough.com). Preparing game, filleting fish and baking bread will be taught in the boutique hotel's kitchen. Pastry goes under the microscope in "Sweet Treats" on 19 March. "Veggie Delights" on 26 March promises to add more unusual dishes to your repertoire and at "From Farm to Plate", on 9 April, basic meat preparation will come under scrutiny.
Masterclasses cost £65pp and include a two-course lunch. B&B in a double room costs from £170 per room per night, based on two sharing.
Stay and sail in Fowey
Ride a speedy RIB around the coast of Cornwall on a thrilling new break being offered from 1 April at The Old Quay House (01726 833302; theoldquayhouse.com) in Fowey. Take your seat in the luxury six-seater vessel and cruise the shores of South Cornwall, your private skipper navigating around little-known coves.
The break costs from £675 in total for two sharing, including two nights' B&B, one dinner, a day on the RIB with a private skipper and all safety equipment.
Forage your own feast in Penzance
Wild Food Taster Days are on offer from March with Caroline Davey of Fat Hen (01736 810165; www.fathen.org), a wild food cookery school near Penzance. Spend the morning combing the seashore and countryside for wild vegetables and herbs, seaweeds and berries. Back at the Fat Hen, you'll turn your stash into dishes such as Japanese knotweed compote and sorbet. The rest of the day is spent learning about fish or game – with vegetarian options also available.
Courses on various dates from £95. B&B at nearby Trelew Farm (01736 810308; trelew.co.uk) costs from £38pp per night.
Hit the road around the UK
Emerge from your winter hibernation and embrace spring on a road trip with Bunk Campers (bunkcampers.com). Pick up one of the modern motorhomes rented out of its bases in England, Scotland (and Ireland, too) and head off into the sunset at your own pace, safe in the knowledge that if the spring nights are a little chilly, you're guaranteed a cosy bolthole as you go.
Motorhomes cost from £65 per day, with fully equipped kitchenettes, heating and electricity.
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