19 places to visit this spring in East Anglia, from bluebell woods to lambing weekends
- Credit: Archant
Can’t wait for spring, with its bluebells and lambs? Here are 19 suggestions of places to visit around the region over the coming weeks and months.
Kentwell Hall, Long Melford: This popular attraction has a range of special events lined up for spring. In the gardens and farm, visitors can see displays of snowdrops and spring bulbs until early March. Then, a lambing and spring bulbs event runs from March 14-29, with a chance to see young and newborn lambs. Visitors might even see a lamb being born. From April 4 to May 20 the house will be open, with swathes of daffodils, cowslips, primroses and other spring flowers in the gardens.
Easton College, Norwich: You can get an early taste of spring at the college's annual lambing weekend, which this year is taking place on Saturday, February 29 and Sunday, March 1, from 10am to 4pm. Visit new-born lambs and their mothers, and you might even catch them taking their very first steps. There will also be calves, pigs, and chicks at the college's working farm, and the event will include tractor and trailer rides, as well as children's activities.
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, South Walsham: Various spring-themed events are coming up, including dawn chorus events on March 28 and April 4, with the chance to take a boat trip around Fairhaven's private broad. From April 20 until May 10, Fairhaven runs its Bluebell Weeks, offering exclusive access to the neighbouring Sotshole Broad nature reserve and its bluebell woods, with an additional two miles of walkways set within 60 acres of mature and coppiced woodland. You can also book a place on a guided walk through the bluebells on May 3, from 11am to 1pm.
Flatford Mill: There is always lots to see in springtime around Flatford and Dedham. National Trust rangers will lead walkers through this beautiful area of Constable Country on a two-hour walk, starting at 10am on April 25. They have chosen the time of year when Orvis Wood is most likely to be carpeted with bluebells, although blooming times can vary. Other rambles are also planned. You do need to book your place in advance via the National Trust website.
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Sheringham Park: This National Trust site is known for its displays of wild flowers in early springtime. The gardens here have an ever-changing colour palette, as an increasing number of plants come into flower. Look out for bluebells along the waymarked trails.
RSPB Minsmere, near Dunwich: After hosting BBC Springwatch over several years, the bird reserve is a superb place to visit during spring. Over the season, you can admire a huge range of birds including avocets, gulls, other waders, bitterns, marsh harriers and bearded tits. You can also admire early flowers and insects, including a number of interesting butterflies. A wide range of seasonal events coming up include Spring Wildlife Walks and Dawn Chorus Breakfasts. Visit the RSPB's website for full details and to book.
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Pensthorpe Natural Park, Fakenham: BBC Springwatch also spent several years based at this very popular reserve, spotlighting everything from breeding avocets to witnessing sparrowhawks gently feeding their young. The nature reserve is open seven days a week, and offers a huge range of wildlife to discover and trails to follow. The second annual Pensthorpe Bird & Wildlife Fair will be held from May 16-17.
Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum of Norfolk Life, near Dereham: This attraction opens for the season from March 9, It will be a good place to see young animals in spring, since the animals on the farm are all East Anglian breeds which would have been common on local farms a century ago. This includes Norfolk Horn, Suffolk and Southdown sheep - as well as cows, horses, chickens, turkeys and pigs. Tour the workhouse, museum, gardens and grounds too.
Arger Fen and Spouse's Vale, Sudbury: Spring is an especially good time to visit this ancient woodland, managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. It is known for its spring flowers, including a fine display of bluebells, accompanied by the songs of woodland birds, such as the black cap, whitethroat and willow warbler.
Ickworth, near Bury St Edmunds: More than 1,000 lambs are born at the National Trust's Ickworth estate each year, and during the spring you are likely to spot some when you visit. The gardens and woodland will be full of daffodils, tulips and other spring flowers.
Snettisham Park Farm: This working Norfolk farm is open to the public daily, and a great place to visit if you want to get up close with lambs. The lambs are already arriving, with two sets of triplets and lots of twins having been born during January. All the ewes lamb indoors, enabling visitors to see "lambing live", as well as ewes with newborn lambs at foot taking their first steps. From March to September, there are two daily sessions where you can meet orphan lambs and help to bottle feed them, at 11am and 1.30pm.
Heigham Holmes, Great Yarmouth: You can celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day here on Sunday, May 3.: Birds singing at dawn is one of the most characteristic sounds of spring - and you can hear a range of birdlife on a walk around this reserve. You could spot marsh harriers, wildfowl, spring migrants and even bittern and cranes. The walk runs from 5-8.30am, and places need to be booked in advance via the National Trust website.
Haughley Park, near Stowmarket: The normally private park has just been opening its doors to visitors to see its Spectacle of Light during February - and in spring it will open again for its Bluebell Sundays, which take place on the last Sunday in April and first Sunday in May. This year, these are April 26 and May 3. The event will raise money for Wetherden Church, and the gardens and woods will be open from 2 to 5.30pm, with tea and cake served in the barn.
Wroxham Junior Farm, Wroxham Barns, Hoveton: In spring, lambs arrive from local farms and visitors can help staff bottle-feed these orphaned lambs. There are also plenty more animals to see, cuddle, groom and feed as well as indoor play and crafts. The farm is open daily from 10am to 4pm.
Blickling Estate: Blickling is known as one of the best places in Britain to see bluebells and spring flowers, and it will be "rolling out the blue carpet" again this spring. The best time to see the beautiful displays of bluebells is from late April through to May. Top spots to see the flowers include the Great Wood, which has breathtaking swathes of blue, and Temple Walk.
Bradfield Woods, Bury St Edmunds: During spring, not only bluebells, but 370 species of flowering plants bloom, including white wood anemones and yellow oxlips. You can ramble through five miles of pathways around the woods.
Wayland Wood, Watton, Thetford: Run by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, this atmospheric woodland is said to be the site of the "Babes in the Wood" legend. This is one of the only places in Norfolk, and just a few in East Anglia, where the Yellow Star of Bethlehem grows, with the best time to see this flower being early March, in shady areas of the wood. Other flowers to see here in spring include the bird cherry, bugle, bluebell and early purple orchid, while the birds you could spot include the greater spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, woodcock, willow warbler, treecreeper, chiffchaff and blackcap.
Baylham House Farm, Baylham, near Ipswich: The farm park is now open again for the spring, and is a great place for children to get close to animals during the spring. When the lambs arrive, the farm usually arranges cuddling sessions so that youngsters can get close to them, while the other animals you can see include pigs, alpacas and goats.
Hillhouse Wood, West Bergholt, Colchester: Just a short distance from the town, this patchwork of diverse woodland, managed by the Woodland Trust, boasts a breathtaking display of bluebells during the spring, as well as other spring flowers. With two ponds, as well as streams running through the wood, there is a huge selection of wildlife to be seen here too.