Have you ever wondered what to do with watercress? This colorful street party in pretty Alresford, Hampshire has all the answers. Exhibitors at the festival are challenged to find ever more inventive ways to use leafy green – with salted watercress fudge among the most imaginative concoctions on offer. Morris dancers perform, while the watercress king and queen are responsible for distributing the first harvest of the season to visitors. Those who are particularly fond of the vegetable should enter the eating contest and try to be the fastest to smash their way through a 3oz bag – a small bottle of water is allowed to wash it all down.
May 15, free, watercressfestival.org
Spring grass foraging, Monmouthshire
Abergavenny has earned a reputation as a destination for foodies and spring offers a fabulous way to explore the town through a foraging trail in the Black Mountains. Organized by the Angel, a historic inn in the heart of the market town, you will be shown where to find a range of herbs. These include cleavers, a sprig of which can improve your lymphatic system; the umbel, like a very sophisticated cucumber; and the milkmaids, for a powerful hit of mustard. Sessions are led by foraging guide and author, Adele Nozedar.
Last Sunday of the month, from £322 including overnight B&B dinner, angelabergavenny.com
Bude Spring Food Festival, Cornwall
Street food stalls take their place alongside culinary specialties at the spring edition of Bude’s two annual food festivals. Held in the grounds of Bude Castle, crowds can sample offerings such as 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 treats. Entertainment will be provided 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 demonstrations. A hundred stands are expected along Island Street, which will be entirely pedestrianized for the day. Along with crab fresh from the tank, you’ll find other local food items, as well as artisanal gin, crafts, and clothing. You can also expect street entertainers, live music and free kids entertainment. All funds raised are donated to Cancer Research UK.
May Day, free, salcombecrabfest.co.uk
Ludlow Spring Festival, Shropshire
A celebration of local produce and real ale, this foodie town’s spring festival takes place under Ludlow Castle, which dates back to Norman times. Around 60 of the best food producers in Shropshire and Welsh Marches take part, as do the breweries behind around 200 real ales. They offer demonstrations, lectures and tasting sessions – with everything from salami and cheese to cider and honey to sample. Live music is also a big part of the weekend, and a sparkling line-up of classic cars will be on display as part of the Marches Transport Festival.
May 13-15, from £9 (child £3), ludlowspringfestival.co.uk
Ospreys on the water, Rutland & Wales
Rewind nearly 70 years and there was only one pair of ospreys breeding in the whole of the UK – in Scotland, which is still their main stronghold. Now, thankfully, this magnificent fish-eating bird of prey can also be seen breeding elsewhere, although it is still on the RSPB’s Amber List. The birds return from Africa in the spring and a fun way to see them is on a May cruise on Rutland Water. The Rutland Belle sets sail twice a day with a guide on board to help spot birds picking fish from the water.
Two breeding pairs can also be spotted in Wales: at Llyn Brenig, a reservoir on Denbigh Moors, via telescope or live feed from 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 the ideal time to take the children to observe the constellations, because the nights are still dark before bedtime but less cold than in winter. It’s also a good time to look for Orion’s belt before he disappears for the summer. Galloway Forest Park was named the UK’s first Dark Sky Park in 2009. With 300 fairly uninhabited square miles, it boasts rare stargazing conditions. The Milky Way cuts a lightsaber streak across the sky from each of the park’s three visitor centers and there are several lochs to explore before dark.
Various dates, free, forestandland.gov.scot
Boat trip in Windermere, Cumbria
The hills surrounding our largest and most enigmatic lake are a brilliant emerald in spring, resplendent with fresh leaves and dotted with sheep that have been brought in from higher pastures. In April, there’s a new way to see them in style, starting with a handcrafted, vintage-style Freebody slipper launch. The cruise is offered by Storrs Hall, a hotel with its own pier on the shores of Windermere. Guests receive a bottle of prosecco and can choose from three two-hour tours that take in local wildlife and historic lakeside homes. Picnic baskets can also be prepared.
From April 1, from £700 for two nights for two people, B&B, storrshall.com