Nothing improves on a crisp, cloudless February day among the thousands of snowdrops at Anglesey Abbey – unless of course you are one of those strange creatures who doesn’t like snowdrops or clear days.
The winter walk is not only a snowdrop wonderland: it has aconites, viburnum, mahonia, even emerging daffodils, all leading to the wonder of the Himalayan birch plantation close to the watermill. There were scores of cars and a coach already parked when we arrived. We had to use an overflow car park, yet on the walk we seldom met more than half a dozen people. They were of all ages, silver travellers, working-age people fortunate enough to have a day off, and pre-school children. No one was playing truant, though it would have been justified.
The path, despite weeks of recent rain, was mostly dry. Only when we had to walk on grass was there any sign of mud. Even the house was open and nobody was enjoined to wear shoe coverings inside.
One reason for the relative isolation of the walk is the meandering route taken. Despite the diminutive size of snowdrops – though some are taller than the dwarf irises also in bloom – each section of the path has its tall specimens. These range from the dense mahonia to spindly white thorn bushes with viburnum between. There are also the yellow or red stems of salix, and finally the majestic and brilliantly white birch trees.
Since our last visit new plantations of birch have been developed and, although closed for winter, an orchard area has been created. Throughout the walk there was bird song, though we failed see any of the singers. They may have been visible at the wild life area, which was not among our plans. Another day perhaps.
After a visit to the house, which has many signs as of recent (though fictional) occupation, we decided that lunch before mid-day would be less crowded than afterwards. Correct: although there were few vacant tables and once we had finished someone eagerly pounced on ours. It was just long enough to be out, because bright February days are still chilly and dusk comes early. We had some shopping to do on the way home so were glad to miss most of the freight traffic on its way to Felixstowe.