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Spring Walks… [CRACKED]

March, April and May are busy months for insects too, as butterflies, bees and ladybirds begin to appear in search of food, making Britain's meadows and grasslands the perfect setting for a springtime walk.

Spring walks…

Make the most of this bountiful time of year with our BBC Countryfile Magazine guide the best spring nature walks, hikes and trails near you, including spring days out in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Shetland sheep roam the hill, keeping down taller, shade-casting grasses. Hardly surprising that St Caths is also a haven for butterflies: the Adonis and small blues and the brown argus are the spring-emerging species to spot.

The months of March, April and May, like the rest, are often wind-whipped, veiled in cloud and doused in rain. It is the flowering of these special Arctic-alpines that distinguish spring from the rest of the year.

The hills are a rippling riot of colour in both spring and summer, granting breathtaking views. Connecting the Irish Sea with mid-Wales, this 17.5-mile route follows the length of the ridgeline. It can be walked in one long day or two moderate days.

The cliffs at Traeth Mawr reach into the spring sky like the stepped, ivory walls of a Mayan temple. Peregrines nest upon the ledges of the tottering limestone bluffs, and choughs, the rarest members of the crow family, chee-ow and soar.

Explore the woodland, farms, orchards and walled garden of Mount Stewart Demesne. The area is popular with red squirrels, buzzards and woodpeckers, and in spring the the countryside blooms with wildflowers.

Explore 8 great spring hikes in Northern Virginia for beautiful views, interesting stops, and fun outings close to Washington DC. These are the best easy spring walks in the area because they fill with spring blooms and usually aren't too waterlogged.

Spring hikes are an excellent antidote to the dark days of winter when the air was too cold and the trails were too icy to tempt us. When warmer spring weather arrives, we look for trails that can stand up to rain and snowmelt. These spring hikes in Northern Virginia offer nice views and interesting things to see along the way.

The Potomac Heritage Trail at Riverbend Park is one of the best spring hikes in Northern VA for an easy walk in nature. In early April, the sandy trail is bordered by a profusion of beautiful Virginia Bluebells. The delicate blossoms cover the ground and fill the woods with color. This is an excellent family hike, with an easy trail and lots to see.

As the famous cherry blossoms fade, Virginia Bluebells take over. The beautiful Bluebell Trail at Bull Run Regional Park is another of the prettiest spring hikes near DC. The easy 1.5-mile loop borders two streams, Cub Run and Bull Run.

Long boardwalks over a marshy area at one end of the loop offer more to see. With free entry, ample parking, and plenty of spots to picnic and play, Bull Run Park makes a lovely day trip from Washington DC.

The Meadowlark Botanical Gardens Connector Trail is a paved 1.25-mile pathway linking the W&OD bike trail to beautiful Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. This is a beautiful spring hike when your efforts are rewarded with blooming cherry trees along the trail and in the park. Crabapple and magnolia trees also line the trails with spring blooms.

The 4.5-mile trail around Burke Lake makes our great hikes list every season. In spring, the wide dirt loop trail stays relatively dry even after a storm. Birds are especially active as they battle for a mate. Trees and flowers are vibrant in their new green colors.

Theodore Roosevelt Island offers one of the best spring hikes close to Washington DC. In fact, the island is technically part of DC, but the parking and access are in Virginia. The trail can be muddy after heavy rains and when the Potomac River floods. Even then, the island offers an easy spring walk with interesting sights.

The Glade Stream Valley Trail and Walker Nature House, in Reston, combine a paved path by a wetland and a fun nature center. The Glade stream was improved to reduce flooding and erosion, and it's now a lovely spot for spring hikes. Keep an eye out for eagles, foxes, and other wildlife in the wetland.

Many of the trails at Manassas National Battlefield cross open fields that were the scene of the Civil War battles of First and Second Manassas. That makes them a good choice in spring before the heat and humidity of summer arrive.

Visit a unique hemi-marsh on the Huntley Meadows Park hike, a hidden gem in the Fairfax County Park system. The wetland is one of our favorite spring hikes with kids when the plants, animals, and birds emerge from their winter naps.

Arlington National Cemetery is a good choice for spring hikes devoted to solitude and reflection. To really appreciate the magnitude of our nation's heroes and loss, we recommend a long walk on the streets throughout the cemetery. In spring, you'll see beautiful blooming cherry trees and haze-free views of DC, and the paved streets are usable even after heavy rain.

These spring hikes in Northern VA are a fantastic opportunity to see the changing season. Return to these hikes throughout the season to see the views transformed as green returns and blooms emerge. Whichever spring trail you choose, you will find something new to see on every outing.

Starting a springtime walk is a great opportunity to interact with other people, and research shows that social connections can positively influence your health. In addition, fitness trends predict that most people are more likely to start a new habit right after the New Year and just before summer, making spring the peak time to invite a friend for a walk. The support gained through social connections can also make getting outside on a regular basis more fun and consistent.

Winter is the season correlated most highly with depression. Many believe there are three major factors behind this. First, there is the holiday season with all the stresses of shopping, travel, and overspending. The second reason may be the dearth of sunlight and the scarcity of vitamin D that people are accustomed to absorbing from the sun. Lastly, people are just less active in the wintertime due the frigid weather. Therefore, springtime is a great time to shake off your dibble downer dumps by walking outside and smelling the fresh spring air! Try three 30-minute walks a week and you may be surprised how effective it is; in many ways, it can be considered the cheapest antidepressant!

This soundscape is extraordinary in its ability to stimulate your other senses, with sounds only. Close your eyes and concentrate on what you feel, not only emotionally, but physically. Do you experience the coldness of the early morning hours? The warmth of the day's first ray of sunshine? The heat of a bright afternoon, almost too hot for spring time? Or simply the quietness of a place where the only man-made sound you will hear are the sounds of your own footsteps, as you wander though this unspoiled place.

#2: Walk your dog in a wooded area to avoid downpoursIf your dog is desperate for fresh air and a long hike, despite daily spring showers, pick a route that provides some shelter, such as a wooded trail, or a city block lined with awnings. Although trees can provide some respite from a heavy downpour, check your forecast before heading outdoors to avoid thunderstorms with high winds and lightning.

The last of the snow flurries are likely behind us, and spring crocuses, daffodils and tulips will soon be unfurling their showy blooms. When springtime arrives on Cape Cod, it's the perfect time to lace up your sneakers and explore the region's stunning natural beauty along wooded paths, salt marshes and beach dunes. You'll enjoy warming temps and later sunsets, while still feeling like you have the Cape all to yourself.The Knob (Falmouth)Part nature trail, part walk along the sea, this quirky peninsula in Woods Hole is a mile-long patch of land that juts into Quissett Harbor. There is a carefully laid out walking trail down the middle of the narrow causeway. Take in panoramic coastal views, spot birds snacking on fish, and listen to the waves lapping against the retaining rock walls. Come at night to watch the sun set behind New Bedford across the bay, and come back in summer when the beach roses are in full and fragrant bloom.Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary (Barnstable)Over 2.5 miles of hiking trails traverse through woodlands, salt marshes, freshwater wetlands and the dunes of Sandy Neck Barrier Beach at one of the Mass Audobon Society's two reserves on Cape Cod. Among the six trails are the Marsh Boardwalk Trail - leading you out to tidal flats where you can spy horseshoe crabs and moon snails - and the Butterfly Mosaic Trail, which winds through an open field that attracts nearly 30 species of butterflies. Bring your camera to capture amazing views of Barnstable Harbor along the way.Gray's Beach Boardwalk (Yarmouth Port)For a more leisurely mid-afternoon walk or an after-dinner stroll, the Gray's Beach Boardwalk makes for a picturesque place to admire Cape Cod Bay. The wooden walkway stretches out across a pristine salt marsh, perfect for viewing osprey-nesting grounds and aquatic life. The observation deck at the end of the boardwalk offers some Instagram-worthy photo opps, and it's also a stunning spot to catch a sunset.Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (Wellfleet)The second of the Mass Audubon Society's two reserves pm Cape Cod, this 1,000-acre parcel is packed with a little bit of everything that we love about the Cape. There are several walking trails, totaling more than 5 miles, which cross salt marshes, sand dunes, tidal flats and a small pine forest. You'll find a few ponds flush with wildlife activity and surrounding trails. In mornings, it's also a hotspot for birdwatchers. Given the spring weather, expect varying temperatures and muddy conditions. If you have kids in tow, make a point to stop at the nature center, which has several exhibits about the landscape, and a little bit of history, too.Nickerson State Park (Brewster)The massive park in Brewster, covering nearly 2,000 acres, is the Swiss army knife of nature retreats. While in summer the secret is out about the bike trails, kettle pond paths, campgrounds and forest trails within, spring allows for more breathing room and meditative hikes, where the only sounds you may hear are birds singing out and the breeze brushing against budding trees. There are more than eight miles of paved bike trails, part of the larger Cape Cod Rail Trail, which make for an easy walk. Or, stroll around the small lakes and ponds. A favorite is the Cliff Pond trail, which is surrounded by patches of pine forest.Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail (Wellfleet)This meandering path, adjacent to Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Depending on the weather and amount of rainfall, the swamp areas of the trail vary between slight mud to full-on swampy patches. However, a wooden boardwalk covers the majority of the area, ensuring you aren't covered with too much muck. There are also hilly areas of the trail, though the steepest has rock steps for an easier ascent and descent. It's a quite shady hike, and the biggest draw is the secluded White Cedar forest. There's plenty of signage along the way, but as a note, no pets are allowed on the trail.

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