The top eight spring outdoor adventures… by those who know

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Words by Oliver Hurley

The air is getting warmer and East Anglia is bursting into life – everywhere you look, there are carpets of flowers, buzzing bees and a dawn chorus that could rival any choir. But don't just take our word for it, as we ask East Anglia’s leading nature lovers for their favourite spring outdoor adventures

Bat punt safaris, Cambridge

Recommended by: Caroline Fitton, The Wildlife Trusts

Take a leisurely evening drift down the river Cam from central Cambridge out through fields at dusk, bat detector in hand, and tune in to the sights and sounds of the river on a bat punt safari. A Wildlife Trust expert will interpret the sonar signals received from pipistrelle, serotine or Daubenton's bats and, as the light dims, a sweep light fleetingly illuminates the enthralling sight of bats as they skim across the water's surface, scooping insects as they fly. Learn fascinating facts about bats and acquire a new appreciation for these fabulous flying mammals.

Nearest station: Cambridge

Bat Punt Safari, Cambridge

Berney Arms, Norfolk

Recommended by: John Packman, The Broads Authority

To explore the Broads at their most isolated there is no place better than Berney Arms, which can be reached via the Wherry line. Berney offers unadulterated views across the reeds and water. It is famous for the Wherryman’s Way footpath, a 38-mile route that follows the water east to Great Yarmouth. Nature enthusiasts will be rewarded with a vast array of unusual bird life worth getting the binoculars out for, and budding writers, artists and photographers will find the landscape perfect for sparking inspiration.

Nearest station: Berney Arms

Berney Arms, Norfolk

Blue House Farm Nature Reserve, Essex

Recommended by: Emily McParland, The Wildlife Trusts

Just a 10-minute walk from North Fambridge station you can immerse yourself in the best wilderness Essex has to offer at Blue House Farm nature reserve. This 243-hectare coastal grazing marsh comprises of lagoons, channels and a seawall that has panoramic views over the Crouch estuary. There are three bird hides to visit, which can be combined into a two-and-a-half-mile circular route. Spring and summer see water voles and breeding avocet and, if you’re lucky, one of the resident barn owls will silently fly past.

Nearby station: North Fambridge

Blue House Farm Nature Reserve, Essex

Flatford Wildlife Garden, Suffolk

Recommended by: Fabian Harrison, RSPB

If you're looking for a beautiful wildlife garden to visit that can also provide inspiration for your own garden, then this is the perfect day out. The garden really comes to life at this time of year, with bulbs bursting into bloom and birds starting to nest. Children will also love the wildlife trail that features carved wooden creatures and a living willow tunnel. Flatford Wildlife Garden is situated in the picturesque village of Flatford, where you can walk in John Constable's footsteps and see the landscapes that dominated his paintings from the early 1800s. Please note: it’s a 30 minute riverside walk from Manningtree to Flatford.

Nearest station: Manningtree

Flatford Mill, Suffolk

Old Wood, Norfolk

Recommended by: Andy Bond, The Woodland Trust

Old Wood is a patchwork of broadleaf and conifer woods and heathland teeming with wildlife. Look out for the veteran trees such as oak, beech and sweet chestnut that date back hundreds of years or bluebells from mid April to May. Enjoy a buggy-friendly stroll around the sculpture trail, or climb to one of Norfolk’s highest points for spectacular views over the North Norfolk Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s all just a 15-minute walk from the seaside town of Sheringham. There is a waymarked route of sculpture posts running through the wood, each providing a clue about what you can find close by. The walk takes around an hour-and-a-half and is suitable for pushchairs.

Nearest station: Sheringham

Old Wood, Norfolk

Salhouse Broad, Norfolk

Recommended by: John Packman, The Broads Authority

Getting out on the Broads couldn’t be easier from Salhouse on the Bittern line. A water taxi service operates from Salhouse Broad, which takes passengers to Hoveton Great Broad Nature Trail. It’s the perfect way to discover the majestic carr woodland and to see amazing wildlife up close, from the tiniest dragonfly to the largest heron. The Broads National Park is home to a quarter of the UK’s rarest wildlife and at Hoveton you can see many of the most iconic Broads species, such as the swallowtail butterfly, the Norfolk hawker dragonfly, the marsh harrier and even otters.

Nearest station: Salhouse

Norfolk Broads swans

Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk

Recommeded by: Emily Kench, RSPB

The brilliantly titled Strumpshaw Fen is a stunning RSPB reserve with a wide range of broadland habitats and wildlife, including bitterns, kingfishers and courting pairs of marsh harriers, which can be seen performing their spectacular 'sky dancing' displays in the spring. Enjoy a pleasant stroll around the reed beds, woodlands and orchid-rich meadows of this Site of Special Scientific Interest as part of a fen trail, in which you can also enjoy stunning views from a tower hide, or explore the woodland trail to discover the magic of the bluebell woods at this time of year.

Nearest stations: Brundall and Buckenham

Butterfly on the Norfolk Broads

Trumpington Meadows, Cambridge

Recommended by: Caroline Fitton, The Wildlife Trusts

This elegant, expansive nature reserve and country park in south Cambridge stretches alongside the River Cam and Byron’s Pool. Trumpington Meadows is a place to discover and enjoy nature, explore diverse habitats and wander by the river and through flower-filled meadows, with a range of hand-carved nature sculptures throughout the site. The flowering meadows are spectacular in summer, shimmering with wild flowers such as knapweed, field scabious, bird’s foot trefoil, ox-eye daisy and salad burnet. Butterflies float over the meadows, while dragonflies and damselflies dip and dance along the river. The riverside offers beautiful spots to walk and look out for otters and kingfishers.

Nearest station: Cambridge

Trumpington Meadows, Cambridge