7 beautiful places to see snowdrops in Dorset

A close up of a group of snowdrops

Snowdrops are often the first sign that spring is coming - Credit: Yoksel 🌿 Zok, Unsplash

Helen Stiles picks 7 magical places in Dorset to explore these beautiful flowers.

Snowdrops bring great joy in the early months of the year, signifying the warmer weather ahead. Like a blanket of snow, they cover the ground of fields and woods to create a truly ethereal experience. Whether you fancy taking some photos or going for a walk, we've found the best spots to visit to be surrounded by the flowers. 

Britain's First Snowdrop Town

Back in 2012, as a tribute to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the people of Shaftesbury and the surrounding areas planted thousands of snowdrops in public areas to create a series of scenic Snowdrop Walks. The legacy has continued with more planted each year to spread  hundreds of thousands of snowdrops throughout this hill  top town. A decade later, they have certainly achieved their  ambition of making Shaftesbury Britain’s first Snowdrop Town. Throughout February there are usually a number of snowdrop themed activities including a snowdrop-related art exhibition at Shaftesbury Arts Centre, a Snowdrop Lantern Parade, specialist snowdrop study days and snowdrop sales. Coronavirus has reduced these events or put them online, but walking around the town to admire drifts of snowdrops in the fresh air is still possible.

Find maps for four snowdrop walks at shaftesburysnowdrops.org ranging from a short accessible walk to a three-mile route. They will also publish any events that are going ahead this year here. Snowdrops are in bloom around the town from late January to mid-March.

Snowdrop Sundays at Mapperton

Winner of the Historic Houses Garden of the Year 2020, Mapperton celebrates the coming of spring with two Snowdrop Sundays. Admire swathes of snowdrops in the beautiful gardens and grounds surrounding Mapperton House, near Beaminster, home to the Earl and Countess of Sandwich. Snowdrop Sunday, on January 30 and February 6 (11am - 4pm), also gives you the opportunity to enjoy a peaceful walk in the woodlands as well as exploring the topiary and grottoes of the formal Italianate gardens.
Admission £7.50 per person, under 16s free. The Coach House café will be open for hot drinks, cakes and warming soup. mapperton.com 

Galanthophile heaven at Kingston Lacy

Walk through the gardens of Kingston Lacy, the former country house of the Bankes family, from January onwards and be dazzled by the spectacle of more than six million snowdrops in bloom. Peak viewing, at this National Trust owned property near Wimborne, is from mid-January to the end of February, when you can admire varieties such as ‘Ding Dong’ and ‘Heffalump’. The Victorian Fernery, Japanese Garden as well as Lime Avenue and Lady’s Walk are good places to marvel at more than 40 different species of snowdrop. Gardens open daily from 9.30am4pm or for avid galanthophiles book a Snowdrop Guided Walk (Wednesdays 11am –midday) on January 26, February 2,9,16 & 23. Book at nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy

Snowdrops at Minterne

Landscaped in the manner of Capability Brown, Minterne Gardens, at Minterne Magna near Dorchester, boasts a world-renowned collection of Himalayan rhododendrons and azaleas, as well as spring bulbs and flowering cherries. The trail around the gardens takes in a chain of small lakes, waterfalls and streams and in February has an abundance of snowdrops.
Gardens reopen to the public on February 1 (10am – dusk). Adults £6, under 12s free. Garden Tea Shop on site. minterne.co.uk

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Snowdrop openings for the National Garden Scheme

The Old Vicarage, at East Orchard, Shaftesbury (SP7 0BA) is filled with hundreds of different snowdrops, crocus and hellebores and other winter flowering shrubs. Cream teas and refreshments available in aid of Orchard Community Association. Adults £4, children go free. February 11 & 13, 2-5pm. Lawsbrook at Brodham Way in Shillingstone (DT11 0TE) is famous for its extensive snowdrop displays. The six acres of garden are also home to 130 species of trees, including many unusual specimens. Teas and cakes, dogs welcome. Adults £4, children go for free. February 23- 27 10am –4pm
Pre-book tickets at ngs.org.uk or simply turn up on the day. 

Village of Snowdrops

Compton Valence, 7 miles west from Dorchester, is filled with thousands of snowdrops in February which cover the steep banks of the narrow road leading into the village making it a veritable snowdrop heaven to stroll through.

Walking Alfpuddle

The picturesque and charmingly named village of Affpuddle, located in Purbeck looks like a scene from a chocolate box with its quaint thatched cottages and large stretches of village greenery. However, the early arrival of snowdrops this year is making for an even more idyllic scene. Patches of perfectly formed snowdrops are popping up along the banks of Affpuddle's many streams, making for a gloriously scenic country walk for the whole family.

Click here for a wonderful walking route around the village.