Bluebell wood in Kent (Dreamstime)
List Words : Wanderlust Team | 25 March 2019

The UK's best bluebell woods to visit this spring

One of the loveliest British spring sights is a carpet of blooming bluebells. Find out where you can spot them when they flourish, across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland...

The best bluebell walks in England

1. Ashenbank Wood, Kent

Ashenbank Wood. (Georgina Smith)

Ashenbank Wood. (Georgina Smith)

Ashenbank Wood comprises ancient woodland with a varied history. During World War II the RAF stationed five camps on site to accommodate personnel stationed at the Gravesend Airfield, with some structures still visible today.

Usually at this time of year there are prolific shows of bluebells scattered across the forest floor for visitors to meander through.

2. Brede High Woods, Sussex

Brede High Woods (Woodland Trust)

Brede High Woods (Woodland Trust)

Brede High Woods is situated six miles north of Hastings in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Visitors to Brede compare it to walking through ten different woods on one site. It is special for its rare green hellebores and also for sightings of hobby, woodcock, nightingales and buzzards, glow-worms, great crested newts, lampreys, dormouse, badgers and fallow deer.

3. Hackfall, Yorkshire

Hackfall Wood (David Rodway)

Hackfall Wood (David Rodway)

Set in a 350ft gorge on the edge of Grewelthorpe, Hackfall was bought in 1731 by John Aislabie, famous for his landscaping work at nearby Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. Following years of decline, the site has been given a new lease of life in the last few decades and teems with a thriving range of wild plant communities, including a spectacular spread of bluebells every year.

4. Heartwood Forest, Hertfordshire

Heartwood Forest (Judith Parry)

Heartwood Forest (Judith Parry)

Heartwood Forest will become the largest new native forest in England once the Woodland Trust has completed its planting programme, which will see 600,000 trees planted by volunteers. The 850 acres are home to both ancient woodland and vast carpets of beautiful bluebells.

5. Shaptor Woods, Bovey Tracey, Devon

Shaptor Woods, Bovey Tracey, Devon

Shaptor Woods, Bovey Tracey, Devon

This is a large expanse of woodland made up from a series of ancient woodland sites. There are two public rights of way and a path leading onto Shaptor Rocks where you can enjoy magnificent views across the local landscape. 

6. Clanger and Picket Woods, Wiltshire

Clanger & Picket Woods; Westbury, Wiltshire

Clanger & Picket Woods; Westbury, Wiltshire

Clanger, Picket and Round Woods have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the varied butterfly and moth populations. Many paths lead into cleared glades where bluebells thrive in spring.

7. Tattershall Carrs, Lincolnshire

Tattershall Carrs, Tattershall, Lincolnshire

Tattershall Carrs, Tattershall, Lincolnshire

Tattershall Carrs forms the last remaining remnants of ancient, wet, alder-dominated woodland that once ringed the margins of the Fens. It also boasts a fascinating history – the wood was part of RAF Woodhall Spa during the Second World War, and was home to the famous 617 ‘Dambusters’ squadron.

8. Warriners Wood, Cumbria

Warriners Wood, Kendal, Cumbria

Warriners Wood, Kendal, Cumbria

Warriners Wood is well known for its spring colour and range of wildlife, this mixed woodland of ash, sycamore and hazel is well worth a visit.

9. Costells Woods, Sussex

Costells Woods, Scaynes Hill, Sussex

Costells Woods, Scaynes Hill, Sussex

Costells Wood is a site of ancient woodland and has been designated an area of wildlife importance. Several small ponds are found in the site, alongside an extensive path network.

10. Danbury Common and Blake Heath, Essex

For a true-blue sight, don't miss the 100 acres of stream valleys, mature oaks and chestnut trees spread across Danbury Common and Black Heath. Dotted among the carpets of bluebells are primroses, gorse and even yellow archangels.

Bring your binoculars and see if you can spot a nightingale or a hawfinch. For avid birdwatchers, make a stop at the Backwarden nature reserve on the south-western edge of Danbury Common.

11. Credenhill Park Wood, Herefordshire

Credenhill Park Wood is a local landmark with historical and environmental importance, having been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Special Wildlife Site. The tranquil paths among the trees bestow views of small-leaved limes, early purple orchids, fragrant wild garlic and bluebells.

The Iron Age hill fort that forms an integral part of the site is one of the largest hill forts in England, and is thought to have been an Iron Age tribal capital.

12. Duncliffe Wood, Dorset

Prominent on the summits of Duncliffe Hill, just west of Shaftesbury, this large ancient woodland site can be spotted for miles around. A designated site of nature conservation interest, it has a rich mix of woodland species, including what are reported to be the oldest inhabitants of Dorset: a scattering of coppice stools of small-leaved limes.

13. Yoxall Lodge, Staffordshire

To see some of the best unspoilt woodlands that Staffordshire has to offer, get down to Yoxall Lodge. This parkland boasts 100 acres of native shrubbery and pasture, and is only opened for one month every year with the bluebell season in mind. The forest floors are coated with native bluebells and also with rare, white bluebells too.

The area's best walk, although a little steep to begin with, is the Lodge Hill Walk (blue waymarkers), which winds around ribbons of bluebells and mossy green trees. Stop for a picnic at Foxholes to admire the springtime blooms while tucking into a tasty ploughman's sandwich.

The best bluebell walks in Scotland

1. Glen Finglas, Stirlingshire

Glen Finglas bluebells (Woodland Trust)

Glen Finglas bluebells (Woodland Trust)

The Woodland Trust's largest wood is described as the Highlands in miniature; Glen Finglas has all the contrasts of mountains and water but on a much more intimate scale. Woodland historians believe that Glen Finglas is home to one of the largest collections of ancient trees in Scotland. And, of course, an impressive display of bluebells.

2. Avon Water and Green Bridge, Chatelherault

One of Scotland's best country parks houses thousands of bluebells every spring. Take to the ten miles of paths around wooded gorges, through wild garlic and past 800 year old Cadzow oaks. Home to some of the oldest woodland in the country, this is an area in need of exploration.

As a beacon for bio-diversity, take the time to spot some of Britain’s most spectacular wildlife including otters, bats and badgers.

If the weather turns gloomy (as we know the British weather can) pop in at the Chatelherault hunting lodge and summer house. Originally built in the 1730s, the buildings are now home to exhibitions teaching the area's history and wildlife.

The best bluebell walks in Wales

1. Coed Cefn, Powys

Coed Cefn (Jane Corey)

Coed Cefn (Jane Corey)

Coed Cefn occupies a hilltop overlooking Crickhowell, a small pretty Welsh town which lies one mile to the west. Most of the woodland consists of blocks of oak and beech, with self-sown ash predominating on the southern side. The woodland floor is dominated by bluebells in spring.

2. Green Castle Woods, Carmarthenshire

Green Castle Woods, Llangain, Carmarthen, Wales

Green Castle Woods, Llangain, Carmarthen, Wales

The Green Castle Woods is a mix of ancient and newly created woodlands, botanically rich meadows and hedgerows provides a haven for wildlife. The Carmarthenshire Coast Long Distance Footpath is routed through the site and fine views can be had over the Afon Tywi and towards Carmarthen.

3. Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire

With history dating back more than 2,000 years, Dinefwr Park and Castle is not just a great spot for bluebells. Amble around the Castle Woods to get your fill of blue and then explore the 12th century Welsh castle, home to Lord Rhys – one of the most prosperous Welsh princes.

At the heart of this National Trust Reserve is Newton House and its surrounding 18th century landscaped garden. If you're lucky, you might come across one of the 100 fallow deer in the medieval deer park. If not, the small herd of a very old and rare breed of cattle are always a welcomed sighting.

Newton House, built in 1660 but now with a Gothic façade, has a tea room overlooking the deer park and an exhibition, for history buffs wanting to learn more about Dinefwr Castle.

The best bluebell walks in Northern Ireland

1. Prehen Wood, Londonderry

Prehen Wood (Simon Brown)

Prehen Wood (Simon Brown)

Prehen Wood sits quietly on the east bank of the River Foyle and, dating back as far as 1600, has seen centuries come and go. Visitors to this area will be overwhelmed by Prehen’s natural beauty. The more privileged visitor may even catch a glimpse of the endangered red squirrel, while bird inhabitants include the sparrowhawk and long-eared owl.

2. Killaloo Wood, Londonderry

Killaloo Wood, Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Killaloo Wood, Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Killaloo sits within the beautiful valley of the River Faughan, just a mile upstream from Oaks Wood. There are some spectacular oaks, possibly explaining why the rare purple hairstreak butterfly, which is confined to oak wood, has been spotted here. In addition to our well-loved bluebell, keep a look out for some other woodland beauties. 

Plants such as wood anemone, wood sorrel and wild garlic adorn the ancient woodland; while birds include the sparrowhawk, jay and kingfisher. Paths on the site have recently been upgraded.

 

Find your nearest bluebell wood on the Woodland Trust website. With over 1,300 woods listed, the site is the largest database of bluebell woods open to visitors. Anyone who has visited a bluebell wood can tick the bluebell icon against that wood on the website so even more people can enjoy the stunning annual display.

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