Spring Saunters in South Devon

In the lee of Dartmoor to its north-west, South Devon enjoys a particularly warm climate and spring arrives early. Around Torbay, so well sheltered that it is known as the English Riviera, the parks and gardens are vivid with spring flowers, and the nesting colony of 'Brixham penguins' (guillemots) is rowdy at Berry Head, where the thin limestone soil is home to dozens of wildflowers, such as the early purple orchid, yellow bird's-foot trefoil and nodding globes of pink thrift.

Out on the more rugged coastline around Start Bay seabirds nest on the rocky headlands, while behind its shingle causeway, above the saltwater lake at Slapton Ley, the fresh bright air is alive with the cackling of grebes, dippers and divers, coot and flycatchers. In the fields and lanes further south, rare Dartford warblers and cirl buntings call from blossom-laden bushes above clusters of primroses and buttercups, and in the woodland bluebells raise their heads from swathes of wild garlic.