Go hunting in graveyards for snowdrops

How does the sight of the first snowdrop make you feel?

Snowdrops are a welcome early sign of spring. They give us hope that lighter, warmer days are just ahead. Bravely emerging in the cold of late winter, snowdrops also symbolise resilience. They gently remind us that we can overcome whatever life throws our way.

Snowdrops can often be found in graveyards. Why is this? Apparently, monks first brought snowdrops to this country in the late C16th and planted them in monastery gardens. Victorians also planted them extensively on graves. And snowdrops planted in ‘holy ground’ or graveyards have been undisturbed and able to flourish ever since. Heslington Church says on its website that the only remnant of the original medieval church is probably the snowdrops!

Tuning into nature

Is there a churchyard or cemetery near you where you can go hunting for snowdrops?

Once found, allow your eyes to linger on the delicate white flowers. Do you feel a sense of delight, of wonder, even of joy? Recent research shows the mental health benefits of attending to nature and tapping into your childish sense of ‘awe’.

Get close and practise your flower photography skills. There’s a great guide here.

Sit for a moment. Graveyards are often wonderful, nature-rich spaces, full of interesting trees and birdlife, and often with thoughtfully-placed benches. It’s worth sitting down and taking a moment to listen to the birds, and breathe in the green, the stillness, and feel the sense of peace.

Once back home, have a look online for poetry written about snowdrops. Will it inspire you to write your own? There’s some lovely ideas for poems and creative writing activities around snowdrops here.

Practicalities

You will hopefully find snowdrops in a graveyard or cemetery near to you in York. Here’s some suggestions to get you started:

Holy Trinity Church, Acaster Malbis (pictured above)

Head south out of York down the greenway (NCN Route 65) to Naburn Bridge, come off the greenway at the bridge on to Acaster Lane. The Church is a short distance down the Lane just before the Ship Inn. You can see the cycle map out to Naburn here.

St Mary Bishophill Senior churchyard

From Skeldergate, make your way up the hill by Middletons Hotel to Cromwell Road. The churchyard is opposite the Golden Ball pub.

Heslington Church (pictured below)

Heslington Church lies on Heslington Lane/ Field Lane, near Heslington Hall on the University of York’s West campus. You can enjoy a nice ride there from the Millennium Bridge area – across Walmgate Stray, round the campus and along Heslington Lane. Plan your route using the York Cycle Route map.

York Cemetery

Here’s a helpful York Cemetery Map that shows the exact location of snowdrops on the site.

The most pleasant walking and cycling green route to the Cemetery is via New Walk. You can park your bike at the Blue Bridge on New Walk. From there, walk briefly upsteam along New Walk, turn first left up the steps to Marborough Grove, cross Fishergate by Alligator Foods, and follow the lane round to the left of the school. You’ll emerge on Cemetery Road and the entrance to the Cemetery is just across the road.

Giving something back

Volunteer to help look after a churchyard. York Cemetery is always looking for volunteers to help care for its wild, rambling site.

Make a note to plant some snowdrops for next year. You can plant them from bulbs or ‘in the green’ – see Planting Advice here.

Would you believe that there are over 2500 varieties of snowdrops? They share a wonderful Latin name, Galanthus, meaning milk flower. And the name for a snowdrop hunter? A Galanthophile 😊

You can find other Nature Time routes across York through the seasons from us here. Enjoy time in Nature on a green route walk or ride – all year round!

Finally, we rely on donations and grants to fund our work towards a healthy, green and kind York. You can donate at www.givey.com/yorkbikebelles.

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