Bluebells in Britain

Posted on: 21 April 2010 by Mark O'haire

For many, nothing says spring like baby lambs and the first flowers coming into bud. But it’s the blossoming of one particular, much-loved flower that has traditionally been the best mark of springtime and that flower is the bluebell.

Bluebells in BritainBluebell season tends to start in April, with flowers normally at their best at the end of the month and early on in May. However, if you want to head out and appreciate the beauty of the bluebell this year you had better hold your horses! Because of our harsh winter - the coldest for more than 30 years - the 2010 bluebell season is likely to be delayed by up to three weeks, meaning May is going to be the best month for walks in woods filled with freshly blooming flowers.

Given that Britain has between 25% and 50% of the world’s bluebell population you’re sure to come across carpet of blue at some point this springtime but if you’re after a bit more certainty, there are some places where you’re virtually guaranteed a glimpse of the beautiful bluebell.

Here’s our top ten spotting points in the UK:

  1. The Royal Botanic Gardens in Ardingly, West Sussex Kew's country garden in Sussex boasts acres of native bluebells
  2. The Wilderness Wood at Hadlow Down, East Sussex An award winning woodland where the bluebells are due to come into flower any day now– perfect timing for visitors to follow the specially created bluebell path
  3. Blakes Wood, Essex An ancient woodland on a sloping site spanning 100 acres with streams, valleys, mature oak and chestnut and coppiced hornbeam. Flowers, including bluebells, primroses and Yellow Archangel, carpet the woodland floor each and every spring.
  4. Winkworth Arboretum, Godalming, Surrey. This hillside arboretum contains more than 1,000 different shrubs and trees, many of them rare. However, the most impressive displays are in spring, with magnolias, bluebells and azaleas
  5. Lanhydrock, Cornwall. At the start of the 1.5-mile Great Wood and Avenue Walk you’ll come across the bluebell wood, famed for its carpet of colour in the spring. 
  6. Buckland Abbey, Devon. Discover fabulous bluebell displays in the Great North Wood and take a three mile ‘Bluebell Walk’ with the estate warden on Friday 7 May, 11am – 1.30pm. Kingston Lacey, Dorset
  7. Ashridge, Hertfordshire. The 1.5-mile waymarked woodland trail has a stunning display of bluebells beneath the bright-green beech canopy.
  8. Attingham Park in Shropshire. The best display of bluebells can be found in Rookery Wood, near the main entrance to the estate and on the way to the heart of the property. Calke Park and Abbey, Derbyshire
  9. Coughton Court in Warwickshire. Take a stroll through the carpets of bluebells in Coughton Court's bluebell wood
  10. Hardcastle Crags, Yorkshire. A hidden beauty spot near Hebden Bridge. The three-mile Mill Walk is the ideal place to see a mass of bluebells in spring.

If you want to go off the beaten track and spot some bluebells yourself, head for old or ancient woodlands and thick hedgerows where they are most often found. Of course, you may well have a special wood you go each year to take a look at the flowers and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t return there! Whether embarking on a guided walk or venturing out on your own or with friends- bluebell spotting is a perfect way to get some fresh air and see the British countryside at its best.

All you need is a decent pair of walking boots such as the V-Lite Altitude Ultra Luxe WPi boots from Hi-Tec. These are great as they have a strong grip and are really comfortable, even on long walks. You can buy them and other walking shoes at stores such as Millets, Brantano, JJB Sports and Blacks. Don’t underestimate the importance of your walking boots- they’ll protect your feet and keep them warm and dry, as well as providing grip and supporting your ankles which is essential when the ground is bumpy and uneven and you’re looking elsewhere. It’d be useful to take along a waterproof jacket in case the April showers make an appearance too!

You can get your kids or grandchildren involved by organising a nature trail and reward them for finding feathers, insects and specific plants and flowers. Encourage them to respect Mother Nature by taking photos of their finds, rather than uprooting plants and disturbing animals. You could also give them a container or jar to collect non-dangerous insects like ladybirds, beetles or ants- just make sure they release the bugs before you head home!

An afternoon in the fresh air means there is no better reason to get out and about this springtime than to see the bluebells.  

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