Snowdrops walks at Gunby Hall and Gardens herald spring is on its way

A flurry of snow dances in the crisp winter air threatening to form a blanket over the first signs spring at Gunby Hall.
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Snowdrop walks are a popular event at the historic National Trust hall and gardens near the coast and Wolds - and never more so for people craving the outdoors after weeks in lockdown.

The sun comes out behind the grand house to cast a shadow over the grounds as staff prepare to welcome families during half-term - it was going to be another good day after all.

Nigel Hodges, Welcome Manager for Gunby Hall, is especially excited to promote a new snowdrop trail created to entertain children while adults breath in the country air and explore the trails.

NigelHodges, Welcoming Manager for Gunby Hall, is looking forward to seeing families visiting the grounds during half-term. Photo: John Aron.NigelHodges, Welcoming Manager for Gunby Hall, is looking forward to seeing families visiting the grounds during half-term. Photo: John Aron.
NigelHodges, Welcoming Manager for Gunby Hall, is looking forward to seeing families visiting the grounds during half-term. Photo: John Aron.

"The grounds have been open since January for locals to enjoy which is really unusual but has been so good for people's health and well-being," Nigel said.

"This half-term through to at least February 21 we have the most beautiful snowdrops in our gardens and also the rainbow walk with 14 different colours to spot across the gardens.

"And, of course, our tea rooms will be open for people to enjoy hot chocolate and some cake afterwards."

The snowdrop walks are an important part of the calendar at Gunby Hall. "When the snowdrops appear it's the first sign spring is on its way," said Nigel. " I have no idea how many snowdrops there are but there are masses.

Dogs on a short lead are also welcome on the Snowdrop Trail.  Photo: John Aron.Dogs on a short lead are also welcome on the Snowdrop Trail.  Photo: John Aron.
Dogs on a short lead are also welcome on the Snowdrop Trail. Photo: John Aron.

"The coloured snowdrops on the trail have been crochered by the Gunby team to add a splash of colour around the trail.

"At the start of the spring walk you will see aconites as well as snowdrops, and daffodils tentatively poking their head through the ground.

"It's a riot of colour at this time of year."

Senior gardenener Natasha Johnson said it was also an exciting time of the year for the team.

The Snowdrop Trail at Gunby Hall.  Photo: John Aron.The Snowdrop Trail at Gunby Hall.  Photo: John Aron.
The Snowdrop Trail at Gunby Hall. Photo: John Aron.

She has worked at Gunby Hall for seven years and says she is local to the area.

"I'm very artistic and just love the colours and the creativity connected with the job," she said.

"It's nice to see the wildlife and the important part the flowers play.

"Snowdrops provide the first nectar for bees, as does the winter honeysuckle which has a stronger scent at this time of year and will soon be coming into bloom.

Among the snowdrops are crochet ones made by the team to add some colour to the trail. Photo: John Aron.Among the snowdrops are crochet ones made by the team to add some colour to the trail. Photo: John Aron.
Among the snowdrops are crochet ones made by the team to add some colour to the trail. Photo: John Aron.

"If people just have a pot of snowdrops in their gardens it helps the bees - people don't realise."

Gunby's popular 18-year-old cat Committee was sleeping in the warmth of the greenhouse.

"Committee hates the cold so stays where it's warm but people love to say hello," said Natasha.

"We'll be back in the greeenhouse soon planting seeds for the garden. There is always something to do here."

Gunby Hall and Gardens open daily from 10am to 3pm throughout half-term. The tea-room will be open during half term from 10am to 2pm for take-away snacks and drinks.

Visitors can pre-book a visit, but also arrive without tickets. Just take along your National Trust member card or pay the admission fee by card on arrival.

Fourteen different coloured snowdrops are in the trail. Photo: John Aron.Fourteen different coloured snowdrops are in the trail. Photo: John Aron.
Fourteen different coloured snowdrops are in the trail. Photo: John Aron.

Pre-book your tickets here: https://bit.ly/3hd5qojABOUT GUNBY HALL AND THE SNOWDROPS TRAIL

Gunby Hall is located between Spilsby and Skegness on the A158, off the Gunby roundabout.

It was gifted to the National Trust 77 years ago Massingberd family. Before Covid-19 and the restrictions put in place, the attraction welcomed around 40,000 visitors a yea , with the volunteer team growing to nearly 200 helpers.

By early December snowdrops at Gunby are often just peeping through the ground, protected by a layer of leaf litter. Snowdrops at Gunby are mostly the common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis and the double form Flore Pleno. These snowdrops are often thought to be native to Britain, but actually come from southern Europe. Their name means 'Milk Flower of the Snow'.

Ten years ago the Gunby garden team split and replanted snowdrops in a corner of the Gunby orchard, making use of the preferred movement of the bulbs whilst they are in growth 'in the green'. Existing large clumps were split and handfuls of bulbs replanted in an area shaded by the pigeon house and the beech hedge. They now brighten this darker, cooler corner which is often a fraction later to flower than those in the south of the gardens.

On your way to the Gunby parish church, St Peter’s, snowdrops can be seen in the hazel copse. This view changes year on year as the team coppice different areas of the hazel trees for use as pea sticks and bean poles. When you're in the churchyard, there is a good collection of double snowdrops to spot.

GUNBY HALL GHOST

Gunby Hall is allegedly haunted, and the sightings have been linked with rumours of a brutal murder that occurred during Sir William Massingberd's residency. Sir William discovered that his daughter (some accounts say his wife) was about to run away with one of the servants, a postillion. On the night the lovers intended to flee, Sir William hid in waiting and shot the postilion dead. The servant's body was dragged through the grounds and thrown into the pond. Some accounts say that Sir William was so enraged he shot his daughter dead as well. Word of the secret murder must have got out because soon locals were whispering that Gunby Hall was cursed and that no male of Massingberd's descent would ever inherit the house. The ghostly form of the murdered servant has been seen haunting the path by the pond, now called 'Ghost Walk', eternally waiting for his lover