Ever wondered what to do with watercress? This colorful street party in pretty Alresford, Hampshire, has all the answers. Stallholders at the festival are challenged to come up with ever more inventive ways of using the leafy green – with sea-salted watercress fudge among the more imaginative concoctions on offer. Morris dancers perform, while the Watercress King and Queen are tasked with handing out the first of the season’s crop to visitors. Those with a particular love of the vegetable should sign up for the eating competition and try to be the quickest to chomp their way through a 3oz bag – a small bottle of water is allowed to wash it all down.
May 15, free, watercressfestival.org
Spring herb foraging, Monmouthshire
Abergavenny has developed a reputation as a destination for food lovers and spring offers a fabulous way of exploring the town through a foraging course in the Black Mountains. Organized by the Angel, a historic inn at the heart of the market town, guests will be shown where to find a range of herbs. These include cleavers, a strand of which can enhance your lymph system; pennywort, like a very sophisticated cucumber; and milkmaids, for a powerful mustard kick. The sessions are run by the foraging guide and author, Adele Nozedar.
Last Sunday of every month, from £325, including one night’s dinner B&B, angelabergavenny.com
Bude Spring Food Festival, Cornwall
Street food stands take their place alongside specialty foods at the spring edition of Bude’s two annual food festivals. Held in the grounds of Bude Castle, crowds can sample offerings including locally-sourced sausages, gin liqueurs, coconut peanut butter and craft cider. Other treats for sale will include beeswax soap, organic vegetables, Indian food, vegan creations and jars of fermented goodies. Entertainment will be laid on for children.
April 18, free, budefoodfestival.co.uk
Salcombe Crab Festival, Devon
Brown crab is a Salcombe specialty and this spring, celebrity chefs have been invited to the seaside town to crack shells and share tips through a range of cooking demos. Around 100 stalls are expected to line Island Street, which will be fully pedestrianized for the day. Alongside crab fresh from the tank will be other local food items, plus artisanal gin, crafts and clothes. You can also expect street entertainers, live music and free entertainment for children. All funds raised go to Cancer Research UK.
May 1, free, salcombecrabfest.co.uk
Ludlow Spring Festival, Shropshire
A celebration of local produce and real ale, this foodie town’s spring festival is set beneath Ludlow Castle, which dates from Norman times. Around 60 of the best food producers from Shropshire and the Welsh Marches attend, as do the breweries behind 200 or so real ales. They offer demonstrations, talks and tasting sessions – with everything from salami to cheese, cider and honey to sample. Live music is also a big part of the weekend, plus a gleaming array of classic cars will be on display as part of the Marches Transport Festival.
May 13-15, from £10 (child £4), ludlowspringfestival.co.uk
Ospreys on the water, Rutland & Wales
Rewind nearly 70 years and there was only one pair of ospreys breeding in the entire UK – in Scotland, which is still their main stronghold. Now, thankfully, this magnificent, fish-eating bird of prey can be seen breeding elsewhere too, though it is still on the RSPB’s Amber list. The birds arrive back from Africa in the spring and a fun way to see them is on a May cruise of Rutland Water. The Rutland Belle sets sail twice daily with a guide onboard to help spot the birds plucking fish from the water.
Two breeding pairs can also be spotted in Wales: at Llyn Brenig, a reservoir on Denbigh Moors, via telescope or a live feed to their nest, and at Glaslyn Valley near Porthmadog.
April-June, Rutland cruise £25 (child £16), lrwt.org.uk; northwaleswildlifetrust.org.uk
Stargazing in Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway
Spring is an ideal time to take children out constellation-spotting, as the nights are still dark before bedtime but less cold than in winter. It’s also a good time to look out for Orion’s belt before he disappears for summer. Galloway Forest Park was designated the UK’s first Dark Sky Park in 2009. Thanks to its 300 square miles being quite uninhabited, it enjoys rare stargazing conditions. The Milky Way cuts a lightsabre swathe across the sky from each of the park’s three visitor centers and there are various lochs to explore before nightfall.
Various dates, free, forestryandland.gov.scot
Windermere boat ride, Cumbria
The fells that surround our largest and most enigmatic lake are a brilliant emerald in spring, resplendent with fresh leaves and speckled with sheep that have been brought down from higher pastures. This April there is a new way to see them in style, from a hand-built, vintage-style Freebody Slipper Launch. The cruise is being offered by Storrs Hall, a hotel with its own jetty on the shores of Windermere. Guests are given a bottle of prosecco and can choose between three two-hour tours that take in local wildlife and lakeside historic homes. Picnic hampers can also be arranged.
From April 1, from £700 for two nights for two people, B&B, storrshall.com
Puffin spotting cruises, Northumberland
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.