Whether it’s the robust yet dainty native wild daffodil or a host of golden cultivars, these vivid flowers are one of the first signs that spring is truly under way.
Daffodils of all sizes and shapes have been seen in the UK since the 17th century, when Shakespeare celebrated them as the flower that “comes before the swallow dares”, and bunches of wild blooms were sold by flower girls on the streets of London.
These days you’re more likely to find them in supermarket or out in the countryside, growing in village parks, country gardens and even in the wild.
There are numerous daffodil walks in the UK, from Yorkshire and Cheshire in England to the Moray Firth in Scotland. Here is our pick of the best daffodil walks to enjoy this spring.
Fringed by Rendlesham Forest’s fir plantations, tiny Butley in Suffolk, and its fine display of wildflowers, is a delight to explore in April. The priory woods shine with daffodils, then bluebells across a long spring. Nearby is the extraordinary Staverton Thicks; ancient woodland with some of Europe’s oldest trees.
Isles of Scilly, Cornwall
Lemony heads bob above golden sands and an azure sea on the sub-tropical archipelago of the Isles of Scilly. These fabulous flowers don’t all end up as florists’ bundles; countless escapee blooms riffle beside the myriad paths that hug the shorelines and crisscross the tiny islands, most notably St Martin’s and Tresco.
Ullswater is smaller than its neighbour, Lake Windermere, and just as beautiful. From above, it looks like a ribbon discarded by a retreating glacier. At about seven miles long, the lake divides the historic counties of Cumberland and Westmorland. The lake is a peaceful spot for tourists who come to see the bobbing daffodils made famous by Wordsworth in all their springtime glory.
Muscular hills of limestone hang above stunning Morecambe Bay, where spring sees the creeks, bays and inlets backlit with the bold trumpets of native narcissus. Extensive clumps and strands dapple the ash and hazel woods above the low silvery cliffs; head to Beachwood and Park Point on good paths from Arnside’s estuary-side prom.
Farndale, North Yorkshire
Cistercian monks from nearby Rievaulx Abbey in the North York Moors may have planted Farndale’s narcissi in the 12th century; or perhaps the blooms emerged naturally millennia ago. Whichever, this is one of England’s finest wildflower emergences; a botanic bucket-list essential.
The pastures, woodlands and orchards of this peaceful corner of the Marches, known as the Golden Triangle, effervesce with diminutive wild daffies in spring. The 10-mile Daffodil Way threads from Dymock through the serene Vale of Leadon via Kempley’s ancient church.
Brigsteer Woods, Cumbria
Wordsworth’s famed daffs nod their heads to countless Lake District visitors beside Ullswater. Far more secret are the woods above the tiny village of Brigsteer, nestled amid limestone hills above the Lyth Valley and Morecambe Bay. Here, wild Lenten lilies (an old English name for a native wild daffodil) stud the wooded slopes of Brigsteer Park, succeeded by ramsons and bluebells in a profusion of spring colours.
Brodie Castle, Moray
This laird’s retreat in Scotland is home to part of the National Collection of Daffodils. Over 100 different cultivars of lent lily – many bred here – nod their heads throughout the estate grounds, shrubbery and walled gardens cosseting the castle, with its notable art collection. Nearby are the Moray Firth’s endless beaches – and famed dolphins.