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The best spring day trips from London

From cheese-chasing to an asparagus festival – cast off your woolly jumper and set off on these spring day trips from London

The Alresford Watercress Festival
Photograph: Roy Gentry
By Lucy Lovell |

No offence winter, but are we happy to see spring. London has some bloomin’ great entertainment in the springtime, from long walks in the park to flower-filled green spaces to a pint in a beer garden

But what if you wanna jump headfirst into the spring groove? We’ve rounded up a list of dreamy day trips from London where spring (or in one case, asparagus) is the main event. From cheese-chasing to mushroom foraging, artisan food markets to calming country walks – cast off your woolly jumper and set off on these spring day trips from London

If you still find yourself at a loose end, check out our round-up of the best things to do in London this spring, packed full of the latest art exhibitionsnew theatre shows, the best gigsrestaurant openings and lots more. 

RECOMMENDED: The best day trips from London

Spring day trips from London

Brogale Hanami in a Hamlet

The picnic under cherry blossoms

When the tree branches are full of pale pink cherry blossoms, there’s only one thing for it: a picnic. Hardcore flower fans should head to Kent to find a sea of bloom-laden boughs at the Brogdale Collection. The orchard has more than 4,000 varieties of fruit trees (apples, quince, cherry, plums, pears and much more) in 150 acres of farmland. Visit during the Hanami Festival for Japanese drumming, samurai and celebrations under the petals. 

Brogdale Collections. Faversham, Kent. Hanami Festival is on April 18 + 19. From £7.20.

Get there One hour by train from London St Pancras International to Faversham, then a 30-minute walk to Brogdale; around one hour 30 minutes by car.

Mushrooms in England

The forage for mighty mushrooms

If you’ve checked your mushroom calendar recently, you’ll know that the season is nearly upon us for the likes of bearded fieldcaps and deer shields. Come April, the eagle-eyed might even spot the mighty morel, considered by some to be the queen of mushrooms (they’re notoriously hard to find and we hear they like growing around dead trees). Of course, growing seasons depend on a shedload of variants, so best to go foraging with an expert. They’ll tell you where and when is best to go, and steer you away from any poisonous varieties. Check out Wild Food UK for a list of foraging courses near to London.

Wild Food UK. Across the UK, around £45 pp.

The Asparagus festival, UK
Stuart Purfield

The festival dedicated to asparagus

Lovers of spring veg will do well to visit Evesham in April, when the town turns green in the name of asparagus. The British Asparagus Festival 2020 features a huge crop of ways to get involved, from meeting Gus the asparagus man and hopping on board the asparabus tour to digging out the green face paint and joining the 5k fun run. Founded in 2006 to big up the area’s booming asparagus harvest, it’s now a hugely popular event, and one of the funnest ways to get your five-a-day.

British Asparagus Festival. Evesham, Worcestershire, April 23 to June 21. 

Get there One hour 48 minutes by train from Paddington to Evesham; around two hours 30 minutes by car.

The Cheese Rolling Festival
1000 Words / Shutterstock

The serious, high-stakes cheese chase

Gloucestershire’s annual Cheese Rolling Festival might sound like a sleepy, pastoral affair, but the reality is far from it. After chucking their cheddar down the hill, contestants then hurl themselves down after it at ridiculous speeds, sometimes resulting in some serious injuries. Bruises, fractures and broken bones? You feta believe it. If you don’t give edam about health and safety then try your luck in the competition, but we’d recommend supporting safely from the sidelines.

Cheese Rolling Festival. Coopers Hill, Gloucester, Gloucestershire. May 25. 

Get there One hour 33 minutes by train from London Paddington to Stonehouse, then one hour by bus; around two hours 30 minutes by car.

Bluebell Walk
Photograph: Arlington Bluebell Walk

The walk through a sea of bluebells

There is no greater sign that spring has sprung than when the flowers bloom, and there are plenty of places to cop an eyeful of petals near London. One of the most sensasional is Arlington Bluebell Walk – a series of stunning trails through woodlands carpeted with seemingly endless bluebells. The routes – one of which is wheelchair-friendly – wind through a series of working farms, so when visitors aren’t marvelling at the flowers, they’re watching cute farmyard animals going about their business. When will the bluebells blossom? It’s the question everyone’s asking. The walks are open from April 9, but check their blog for regular updates on #bluebellwatch.

Arlington Bluebell WalkBates Green Farm, Arlington, East Sussex. April 9 - May 17. Adults £6, child £2.50.

Get there One hour 30 minutes by train from London Victoria to Berwick, then 20 minutes by bus; around two hours 10 minutes by car.

Jack in the Green Festival
© David Fowler/Shutterstock

The pagan festival

Boisterous and bonkers, Jack in the Green Festival is a perfect slice of village May Day madness. The bank holiday weekend sees Hastings locals paint themselves green, don their ivy crowns and cut loose. Start off with a ‘morris dancer breakfast’ (we can only imagine) then get merry at Sunday’s high street procession, when Jack – essentially a giant walking, dancing tree – goes wild amongst a troupe of drummers, musicians and folk groups.

Jack in the Green Festival. Hastings, East Sussex. May 1-2 2020. Free.

Get there One hour 40 minutes by train from London Bridge to Hastings; around two hours 30 minutes by car.

Brogdale, easter at brogdale, lambs

The excuse to cuddle little lambs

Lambing season is approaching, meaning that soon the pens at Baylham Farm will be bustling with little woolly cuties. Lamb-cuddling dates are TBC, but usually they're throughout the Easter holidays. Otherwise, the rare-breeds farm is open from February 16, Tuesday to Sunday for your farmyard animal fix.

Baylham House FarmBaylham, Suffolk. Adult £7.50, child (4-16) £3.50, under 4s free. 

Get there Around two hours by train from London Liverpool Street to Needham Market, then bus; around two hours by car.

lower res KY_ext_table.jpg

The serene exhibition space

Possibly one of the cosiest contemporary art museums in the UK, Kettle’s Yard is the University of Cambridge’s gallery housed in a modest collection of cottages. The houses have been knocked through to create a space almost as beguiling as the exhibitions themselves. This spring look out for poetry workshops, live string quartets and acapella concerts.

Kettle’s YardCambridge. Free.

Get there 50 minutes by train from London King’s Cross to Cambridge; around one hour 30 minutes by car.

The Pells Pool, Lewes, UK
Rob Read

The bracing spring swim

This 46m, award-winning lido has clocked up more than 150 years of waterlogged fun times, making it the oldest documented freshwater pool in the UK. Reopening for the season in May, there’s also an impressively vast lawn where you can roll out your picnic blanket. All that food got you feeling sleepy? Slap on the factor 50 and rest your eyes on the sun terrace.

Pell’s Pool. Lewes, East Sussex. Opening in May, check their Facebook page for updates. £4.50, £2.20 child.

Get there One hour 10 minutes by train from London Victoria to Lewes, then a 10-minute walk to Pell’s Pool; around two hours by car.

Tulips at Arundel Castle
Photograph: chrisdorney/

The huge tulip display

During April, the grounds of Arundel Castle explode into colour as over 60,000 tulips bloom. Keen beans can try and spot all 120 varieties of tulip, including Apeldoorn’s Elite, Black Parrot and the beautiful soft-pink Angelique. And if the weather turns, head inside the eleventh-century castle to eyeball the tulips from the perfectly-preserved bedroom windows.

Arundel Castle, Arundel, West Sussex. Open from April 1 - November 1. From £13.

Get there One hour 30 minutes by train from London Victoria to Arundel; around two hours by car.

Flowers at Sissinghurst Castle

The guided wildflower walk

The Elizabethan and Tudor buildings of Sissinghurst Castle are stunning enough, but they take on a whole new level when the garden flowers blossom. And if you don’t know your honeysuckle from your hyacinths, join one of the guided walking tours around the planted and wild flowers that surround the estate. Best of all, the ticket price includes a cream tea in the restaurant – sign us up.

Sissinghurst CastleCranbrook, Kent. April 28 at 2pm, £12.50. 

Get there 50 minutes by train from London Bridge to Staplehurst, then bus or taxi; around one hour 30 minutes by car.

Alresford Watercress Festival, UK
Shannon Lee Robinson/SLR Photography

The town that’s taken over by watercress

On the third Sunday of May, something strange happens to Alresford. The pretty streets fill with stalls and people as the locals go wild for... watercress. They have an entire festival dedicated to the stuff, which draws thousands of visitors every year. At Alresford Watercress Festival 2020, food and drink stalls (with a watercress-heavy menu), a watercress-eating competition, and live music (we can’t wait to see how they incorporate watercress here).

Alresford Watercress Festival. New Alresford, Hampshire. May 17. Free. 

Get there One hour 20 minutes by train from London Waterloo to Alton, then a 30-minute bus journey to Alresford; around two hours by car.

View of the Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells
Photograph: Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB /

The indie spring fair

Switch up city living with a day out in Tunbridge Wells, a peaceful spa town with fancy Georgian features and indie shops. It’s buzzy but never a scrum (we’re looking at you, London) and on selected Sundays in spring it’s even more lively with the arrival of the artisan market. The Tunbridge Wells Spring Fair takes place in the historic brewery-turned-hotel One Warwick Park, and it’s brimming with independent makers. Stock up on all of the handmade jewellery, ceramics and homeware before realising you have to get it all home on the train somehow. 

Tunbridge Wells Spring Fair, One Warwick Park, TN2 5TA. March 1, April 26, May 10. 

Get there: 45 minutes by train from London to Royal Tunbridge Wells; around one hour 20 minutes by car. 

Viking Bay, Broadstairs
Photograph: Shutterstock

The old-school seaside escape

The temperature rises 0.01 degrees Celcius = it’s pretty much compulsory to plan a trip to the beach. Get out of the stuffy tube carriages and get your toes in the big salty blue. There’s plenty to choose from near London, but for retro charm by the bucket and spade-load head to Broadstairs. Here, you can explore a network of old smuggler’s caves, eat a 99 with a flake, hole up in cosy pubs, or be brave and take a dip. Last one in the sea gets a round in.

Get there: One hour 16 minutes by train from St Pancras International to Broadstairs; two hours 30 minutes by car.

Rye, seaside towns
Photograph: Shutterstock

The wholesome plant fair

Rye is the ultimate postcard-perfect town. You can’t move for cobbled streets, wonky buildings and medieval inns. What’s more, a 20-minute drive away, you’ll find Dixter House and Gardens – a beautiful 15th century building and former home of gardener and writer Christopher Lloyd. His love of gardening continues today, with lush grounds and tons of horticultural events. We love the Spring Plant Fair on April 4-5; a relaxing day out to soothe the soul. Why not take home a few potted friends home for the flat – and then forget to water them. 

Dixter House & Gardens, Northiam, Rye TN31 6PH. 

Get there: One hour 10 minutes from St Pancras International to Rye, then bus; two hours 15 minutes by car. 

Bird singing
Photograph: Shutterstock

The one where you learn about birdsong

This one is for the early birds. It kicks off 8am sharp and – before you scroll on – includes a big ol’ breakfast bap and a brew. Set in the RSPB Pulborough Brooks on the edge of the rolling countryside of the South Downs, on your trip you’ll learn how to identify bird calls while walking through the peaceful nature reserve. By the end of the day, you should be able to identify birds from their calls. Use your new skills to impress (or confuse) your mates by pointing out bird species on Hampstead Heath like an absolute boss. 

Birdsong Masterclass, RSPB Pulborough Brooks, Wiggonholt, Pulborough, West Sussex, RH20 2EL.

Get there: One hour 13 minutes by train from Victoria to Pulborough, then 10 minutes by bus; around two hours by car. 

Steam train pulling into Tunbridge Wells
Photograph: Shutterstock

The chip supper vintage train

The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty looks, well, outstanding in the spring, and a ride on the vintage train at Spa Valley Railways is one of the best ways to drink in the view. This year they’re bringing back Fish & Chip suppers, where passengers tuck into battered cod (veggie burgers are also available) and a beer while watching the lush greenery whizz past the windows. And any spring day out that involves chips gets our vote. All aboard! 

Fish & Chip Suppers, Spa Valley Railways, Tunbridge Wells West.

Get there: 44 minutes from London Bridge to Tunbridge Wells, then 15 minute walk; around one hour 30 minutes by car. 

Surrey Hills

The artisan food festival in the hills

Looking for a quick countryside fix? Surrey Hills is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and one of the easiest big green spaces to access from London. There’s 422 km² of rolling hills, pretty woodland and lush greenery that’ll put a spring in your step. Time your visit with the Surrey Hills Artisan Festival, when the area’s food and drink heroes come together to show off their wares. Taste your way through locally made gin, chocolate and wood-fired pizza, and vegan burgers. Now that walk doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, does it? 

Surrey Hills Artisan Festival, Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking Surrey RH5 6AA. May 16-17. 

Get there: 47 minutes by train from London to Box Hill and Westhumble; one hour 20 minutes by car. 

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