Sunday, 27 March 2016

Looking for spring?

The Uists, Scotland

These windswept twin isles off Scotland’s Atlantic coast are perfect for a late spring break. Much of the west coast of both North Uist, South Uist, and the isle of Benbecula, connects by causeway and is laced with a necklace of white sand beaches, topped with machair – the name for a band of grassy coastal dunes that burst alive with bird song and an explosion of wildflowers in spring. Birdwatchers should head to North Uist’s Balranald RSPB Reserve for rare sightings of the corncrake and other ‘machair birds’

How to get there

The Outer Hebrides are connected to the mainland by Western Isle ferries from mainland ports such as Oban in Argyll and Malaig in Lochaber. Alternatively, flights to Stornoway (Isle of Lewis) operate from Glasgow, Inverness, and Edinburgh.

Wiltshire, England

At Bowood Rhododendron Gardens, stroll through 60 acres of woodland. The garden was planted in 1854 and as well as its collection of different rhododendron types, it’s also home to azaleas, magnolias, and more than 30 hybrid varieties thought until recently to be extinct. Open late April to mid June, depending on flowering season.

How to get there

If you’re coming long distance, fly to Bristol, hire a car at the airport and take the M4 towards Swindon, coming off at J17.

El Hierro, Canary Islands

The wildest of the seven main Canary Isles is the last thing that Columbus saw as he literally sailed off the map in search of the New World. This little visited oasis is a contrast to the popular main island of the western Canaries, Tenerife. Its hills and meadows glisten with flowers in early spring.

How to get there

Ferries between Tenerife and El Hierro, and flights from Tenerife Norte Airport.

Seville, Spain

Too hot in summer and too cold in winter, this sultry southern Spanish charmer is perfect in spring. Those renowned Seville orange trees appreciate the rise in temperature, as do the tourists enjoying one of Europe’s most romantic old cities – at this time of year pleasantly devoid of the crowds. Look out for Seville’s Feria de Abril de Sevilla festival (April 12-17), filling the streets with flamenco dancing and parades.

How to get there

Direct flights to Seville from London Gatwick, and regional airports such as Bristol and Newcastle.

Kitzbüheler Horn Wildflower Garden, Austria

This skiing region takes on new hues as the snows melt on the Großglockner and Wilder Kaiser mountains. Meander across the hillsides, taking in the array of flora collected by plant enthusiasts Eva and Toni Hofer. May is normally the best time to visit.

How to get there

Kitzbühel is in Austria’s Tyrol region and accessible from Innsbruck Airport by car or train in just over an hour. You can also fly to Salzburg, slightly further away to the east.

New England, USA

Mention New England and most people instantly think of the famous seasonal colours that have made this the place in the US to head in autumn. Go in spring, though, and you’ll see the trees and shrubs wake up from their winter slumber in a swathe of spring shades. A road trip is the best way to appreciate the blossoms and emergence of new life – call in to Fairfield, Connecticut, to see candy-coloured dogwoods and the Heritage Museums and Gardens in Cape Cod for rhododendrons.

How to get there

Boston, Massachusetts, is a good place to start an East coast road trip.

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Picture Credit: Unforeseen Kiss</a> via <a href=",Yellow Rhodie</a> via <a href="">photopin

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