I love seeing the snowdrops start to peek through – their little white heads truly are the first sign of spring, and, after a long winter, they’re always such a welcome sight. At the end of January, I found a diary note that I’d popped in the calendar from last year, reminding me to visit the snowdrops at Welford Park. Quite a few people had told me last year how spectacular their display was, and having missed out then, I was determined to make it this year.
It wasn’t quite as easy as that though! Welford Park isn’t that near us, and the weather and illness seemed determined to prevent us from visiting. But last Saturday we finally made it.
If you’ve never heard of Welford Park before, you’ll almost certainly recognise the grounds from The Great British Bake Off, as it’s where they film. But the true star of the show is their snowdrop display, which attracts thousands of visitors from miles around, and with good reason. It’s believed that the snowdrops at Welford Park were planted by the Norman monks as a symbol of purity, and for medicinal use. They spread across the grounds, from the church, along the river, but the biggest carpet of them can be found in the beech wood.
It truly is a spectacular sight. The carpet of white could be mistaken for snow at first, but then the green beneath the flower heads gives it away that it’s actually a dense planting of blooms. I love how delicate snowdrops are, and the carpet they create is just breathtaking. I’m told that the scent varies day to day, and when we visited it must have been a low scent day. I smelled a lovely fragrance as we walked into the entrance, but the scent in the wood itself wasn’t particularly strong. I’m almost tempted for a return visit to see if the scent is stronger, and if we were a bit closer I’d be there in a shot!
There is a lovely circular walk which takes you through the wood and past the river, so we followed the crowd and headed in that direction. It really was very busy – it’s definitely not a well kept secret anymore!
But in the beech wood itself, it was very easy to get photos without people in, as the biggest carpet is fenced off to prevent people from standing on them, which leaves a beautiful carpet, clear of people in your photo. Normally this bothers me, as I like photos of Max in the flowers, but it didn’t too much this time as he wasn’t keen for any photos. There would have been plenty of spots to take photos on the walk though if he had been, just perhaps not quite as spectacular as the dense carpet in the wood.
I really wanted some pretty photos of Max with the snowdrops, but it was clear even in the car on the way down that he really wasn’t in the mood. So I only got this one as I gave him a chocolate lolly which I knew would keep him still for a second!
He was far more interested in the catkins we found on the walk back to the car. Typical!
There is a tea room set up for the snowdrops back at the entrance and it was pretty busy when we went. It’s also worth saying that the only toilets are located there too, so it’s worth visiting them before you head off to the snowdrops, especially if you have young children in tow.
We’ll definitely be returning next year to see the snowdrops at Welford Park – it’s popped onto our annual list of outings!
Welford Park, Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 8HU
Entrance: £7.00 adults, £6.00 concessions, £3.00 children (4-16) under 4 years free
Opening Times: Only during snowdrop season (until 4th March in 2018) Weds – Sun, 11:00 – 16:00. Always closed Mondays and Tuesdays