While the fading of snowdrops marks the end of winter, it is the vivid yellow scattering of lesser celandines across the woodland floor that signals the start of spring.
This is followed by the more delicate yellow clumps of primroses and the white covering of wood anemones, which in turn are overwhelmed by a dense layer of bluebells and the strong garlic scent of ramsons.
Plessey Woods walk
3.3 miles/5.2km | 2 hours | moderate
1. Park and pasture
From Plessey Woods Country Park at Hartford Bridge near Bedlington, a good path leads through a picnic area, down to a bridge and up through the first woodland to a former paddock now planted with saplings. An often-muddy track runs between this and a hedgerow. At a junction, take the right fork into the next wood and follow the fence alongside pastureland. Ignore a stile and continue, dipping through a shallow ravine before veering away from the fence across a level stretch of heavily coppiced trees. This is where you pass through the thickest carpets of bluebells.
2. Avian marvels
A steep drop brings you to the floor of the gorge and the flower-covered bank of the River Blyth. Here you might see a heron fishing by the far shore or a dipper hopping on a mid-stream rock. A loud drumming may alert you to the presence of a great spotted woodpecker claiming territory. Look also for jays, tits and finches flying through the trees and roe deer tiptoeing through the undergrowth.
3. Rising return
You can continue along the bank for a further mile beneath the London–Edinburgh railway viaduct. Alternatively, turn back and follow the riverside to a wooden platform beside The Pool, from which a series of steps leads to a hay meadow above the wood. A path along the edge of this brings you past the paddock and back to the country park.