Top five spring adventures

Shake off the winter chill in the stunning countryside. Nature bursts into life bringing wild daffodils, bluebells, birds and bees.

Wildlife and walking experiences are ‘must-do’ activities at this time of year, as the forests fill with birdsong, our iconic moorland birds reveal their extravagant mating displays and Common Seal colonies come ashore to nurture their young.

The sun shines on Easter celebrations too, eggcellent trails will be found at many attractions, happy hunting for the kids, while the beautiful Walled Gardens at Helmsley and Scampston reopen, celebrating new growth.

Top five spring adventures
1. Wild daffodils walks in Farndale

Man and woman sat down on a tree log enjoying a hot drink from a flask in Farndale (c) Dependable Productions

The famed Farndale wild daffodils appear alongside the river Dove in time for Easter, subject to the weather of course! They're said to have been planted by the monks from nearby Rievaulx Abbey. Wild daffodils are smaller and more delicate, and the trumpet shaped flower is a paler yellow. Follow our famous Daffodil walk from Low Mill to Church Houses; you'll find them along the riverbanks and in the churchyard at Church Houses.

2. Springtime walks in the Howardian Hills National Landscape

Woman walking on the Castle Howard estate Credit Trought and About

Spring brings a season of milder temperatures and a burst of growth as gardens and orchards blossom. Yorkshire Arboretum is a riot of colour and fragrance, as bulbs and 6,000 trees burst into flower. Over the road, Castle Howard's 1,000 acres of Grade 1 listed parkland and gardens have stunning displays of daffodils, later followed by bluebells in Pretty Wood. Woodland walks, lakeside strolls and free tours revealing the secrets of Castle Howard’s gardens are all part of the package.

And what better time to sample an Orchard Tour of Ampleforth Abbey’s famous apple orchards? 40 different varieties are grown and you’ll also get a chance to see how their cider is made in the Cider Mill before a tasting or two, not to mention a slice of Ampleforth’s famous apple cake. Please note orchard tours are currently on hold until Ampleforth Abbey's new Visitor Experience is up and running in spring 2024.

3. Whitby Abbey, the home of Easter

Man and woman sitting on grass with crutches beside them, Whitby Abbey in the background Credit Visit Britain/Peter Kindersley

With no fewer than six medieval monastic ruins set in peaceful locations, the North York Moors is the perfect place for spiritual refreshment. Head to the coast to the iconic ruins of Whitby Abbey, set on a dramatic headland with stunning coastal views, which, long before any Dracula associations, played a pivotal part in the setting of today’s date for Easter.

In 664, following disagreements on when it should be celebrated, a Synod was called by the Northumbrian princess Hild, the founding abbess of Whitby Abbey. The Synod finally agreed to follow the Roman calculations for Easter, bringing together the traditions in England for the first time. The calculations agreed are still in use today.

There’s an interactive visitor centre with digital reconstructions and audio tours to accompany you on your wanders. Hostel lovers will adore Whitby’s YHA too, with the best address in town - in Whitby Abbey’s grounds, with coastal views to the side and abbey ruins to the back. An easy walk down the 199 steps takes you into town for cobbled streets, museums, fish & chips and sandy beach.

4. Malton Food Tours and Food Lovers Festival
A market stall at Malton Food Festival with a display of bread and other baked goods © VisitBritain/Melody Thornton

The market town of Malton, 'Yorkshire's Food Capital', is making a name for itself as a foodie destination. Traditional butchers and fishmongers have been joined by a growing number of artisan producers including microbreweries, artisan bakeries and a Master P√Ętissier. Munch your way around a selection of ‘Made in Malton’ producers and specialists on a Malton Food Tour or learn new skills at the cookery school.

Not to be missed, and now firmly on the foodies' calendar, is May’s Food Lovers Festival showcasing Yorkshire's fabulous bounty and speciality food from further afield. Expect celebrity and passionate local chefs, cookery demos, tutored tastings, 150 food stalls and street food, festival bar, live music and more.

5. Bird watching

Curlew Credit Mike Nicholas

The arrival of three of our iconic wading birds, curlewgolden plover and lapwings, to their breeding grounds on the high moorland always seems too soon for the weather. The first curlew’s cry comes over an icy wind, flouting the elements to declare winter over, as though it’s the bird that brings the new season in and not the other way round. After the curlew comes the lapwing with its distinctive ‘p’weet, p’weet’ call and spectacular acrobatic displays: falling and folding, folding and falling, then rising from within a whisker of the ground to loop the loop in triumph.

Spring is also a good time to find goshawks and migrant birds in the forests and moorland of the National Park while over on the coast, gannets and puffins make an appearance at Bempton. Don’t know where to look? Join expert guides from North York Moors Wildlife Tours for a memorable day out on a nature safari, with the chance to see some of the area’s most iconic wildlife.

Find out what wildlife is around at this time of year with our nature calendar, full of tips, seasonal walks and ideas on the best places to spot birds, animals and wildflowers.

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