When the ground is still frozen, the mornings remain dark and chilly, and a frost permeates the air, there’s one flower that blooms before any other each and every year, that of the snowdrop. Pretty, little and delicate this flower is the first to spring from the ground after the dreary winter and can be found in hedgerows throughout the UK. And, if you head to the heart of Devon, you can even find plenty of snowdrops on Dartmoor, a wild landscape with few features and even fewer residents.
Where to find the best snowdrops in Devon: St Raphael Church at Huccaby
Snowdrops on Dartmoor can be seen from the end of January right through until the end of February and beginning of March, dependent entirely on that year’s winter weather. In the rest of the UK, The spring bloom can be found in fields, gardens, and pretty much anywhere else that wildflowers manage to grow. So, if you’re headed to the islands in the earlier months of the year, keep an eye out for these delicate flowers.
When it comes to the wild landscape of Dartmoor National Park, one of the very best spots to see the early spring flowers is around the outside of the quaint Huccaby Church. First built in 1869 by the Rector of Lydford, the chapel is dedicated to St Raphael and seats just a few dozen. When it was first constructed, the Huccaby Church was used as a chapel school for the children of local farmers.
Today, the church only hosts services infrequently and is a throwback to times gone by. If you’re lucky enough that the chapel is open when you pass by (on the way to Venford Falls), then you can expect to find pews that double up as school workstations, and even a roaring fire in the wood burner on particularly cold days.
St Raphael remains the only church in England to be dedicated to the Saint and admittedly the Huccaby Chapel’s dedication is an unusual one. After all, Saint Raphael is the patron of Apothecaries; Ordained marriage; blind people; bodily ills; WI (Women’s Institute); druggists; eye problems; guardian angels; happy meetings; insanity; lovers; mental illness; nightmares; nurses; pharmacists; physicians; shepherds; sick people; travellers; young people, among other things.
Valentine’s Day Sale of Snowdrops on Dartmoor
Each year, on the weekend before Valentine’s day, and for the following few days, the church is open to visitors for cream teas and the annual Valentine’s Day sale of snowdrops. For a small donation (at your discretion, suggested fee around £1), you can buy a little snowdrop for yourself to take home and plant in your garden. All proceeds go to the running of the church.