Cringletie House Hotel, Peeblesshire
It’s said that soldiers returning from the Crimea brought back Cringletie’s first snowdrops. Thanks to a 30-year restoration programme of the garden, the grounds of this 28-acre estate in the Scottish borders are generously filled with them, and the nature trail is free for everyone. Other highlights include a walled garden dating from the 16th century, and 19th-century Cringletie House has 16 delightful rooms, afternoon tea and warming fires.
Doubles from £250 B&B, cringletie.com
Walsingham Abbey, Norfolk
Mixed in with the ruins of a 13th-century ruined monastery, this is one of East Anglia’s best places to surround yourself with snowdrops. Spread over 18 acres, including by an ancient packhorse bridge, woods and under the Dell Gate, millions of snowdrops have divided and thrived over the centuries. The neighbouring village of Little Walsingham also embraces snowdrops in its gardens and greens, and the Black Lion is a poshed-up pub with rooms (doubles from £125 B&B).
Adult £6, walsinghamabbey.com
Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire
On a sunny day, areas of Easton are sheltered enough for a snowdrop’s delicate honeyed scent to emerge. A snowdrop sanctuary for more than 500 years, Easton’s gardens open again on 11 February 2022, with cafés and shops in addition to 12 acres of bulb-filled grounds. For those who want to linger, cabins with views across the snowdrops are available for the day for up to six people, with chairs and blankets. Linger longer in Easton’s coach house, converted into three open-plan apartments (from £80 a night), or its gate house (from £92; sawdays.co.uk) for access to the gardens after the day visitors have left.
Adult £8.25, visiteaston.co.uk
Painswick Rococo Garden, Gloucestershire
First laid out in the 18th century, defiantly asymmetrical and filled with pastel-coloured gothic follies, Painswick is Britain’s only surviving rococo garden. In the middle of a valley with paths, streams and beech trees, over five million snowdrops emerge each year, providing an austere but wonderfully unified colour scheme. Walking distance from the gardens, the Falcon Inn (doubles from £139 B&B; thefalconpainswick.com) has a full complement of Cotswold honeyed stone charm to augment a visit.
Adult £9.60, rococogarden.org.uk
Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
Possibly introduced by the Romans, beloved by medieval monks and seized on by Victorians, winter-flowering snowdrops (Galanthus) are the first heralds of coming spring. This National Trust estate, with the remains of a 13th-century priory, Jacobean mansion, water mill and gardens, has one of Britain’s best collections – more than 2,000 varieties of the delicately drooping white flower. Of particular note is the rare Galanthus lagodechianus, discovered by former head gardener Richard Ayres on the site of the garden’s Victorian rubbish heap, which can now be seen in all its snowy glory.
Adult from £10, nationaltrust.org.uk
Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens, West Midlands
Brum’s best snowdrops can be found in the gardens of this Jacobean mansion; their flowering marks the arrival of spring and is celebrated by family days at the weekend. But these gardens, rediscovered and rescued by locals in the 1980s, – open Wednesdays to Sundays – are a joy to visit at any time of year, with volunteer-led tours, evening candlelight walks and a courtyard cafe serving warm drinks and snacks.
Adult £4, castlebromwichhallgardens.org.uk
Wrest Park, Bedfordshire
Snowdrops spread naturally – as long as they have trees to cluster around – and this English Heritage property provides perfect incubation conditions. They have plenty of winter company here, too; frost-tolerant companions include crab apples, scarlet berries and balls of mistletoe, while in the greenhouses, the early camellias are beginning to flower. In the grounds, Wrest Park has the well-named Gardener’s House which allows you to explore the grounds after hours (sleeps six, three nights from £625).
Adult from £12.60, english-heritage.org.uk
Thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream, Cornwall’s snowdrops generally flower before anywhere else in Britain. Head to the Roseland peninsula and you’ll start to see them in mid-January. In Tregoose, a garden built over 30 years by Alison O’Connor, they mingle with daffodils, including the early-flowering Cedric Morris. Alison and her husband, Anthony, have B&B rooms in their Regency home and it’s close to other renowned gardens. Doubles from £120, B&B, tregoose.co.uk
A series of walks has been created to celebrate this famously hilly Dorset town’s love affair with snowdrops, ranging from a short stroll around the abbey gardens to an appetite-sharpening three-mile yomp. As in previous years, the town hopes to round off the snowdrop season with a festival that mixes snowdrop-shaped lanterns, made from willow and paper, specialist talks and bulb sales. Close to the abbey, the Grosvenor Arms makes a good base (from £95, B&B).
Welford Park, Berkshire
This seven-acre estate, the site of a hunting lodge for Henry VIII, has had summer renown as a previous base for The Great British Bake Off. However, late winter sees its woodland and riverbanks filled with snowdrops, the earliest thought to have been planted by monks in the Norman age and more recent additions by owner Deborah Puxley. There are more than 150 different varieties for galanthophiles to discover during snowdrop season (2 February to 6 March) when the grounds are also open to the public and feature plant stalls, including specialist nurseries on some days.
Adult £10, welfordpark.co.uk