When I was little, I was convinced that fairies live in bluebell woods. My parents (and grandparents) would take us walking in the stunning bluebell woods in Devon, and I was always blown away by how magical woodlands can look when covered in a pretty purple carpet of flowers. I still think walking through gorgeous bluebell-covered woodland walks is one of the best possible things to do in spring. Over a quarter of the planet’s bluebells are located around the UK, and they show off the best ancient woodland habitats.
I know there are amazing bluebell woods in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but today I am going to focus on England’s best bluebell woods. I have added a couple of contributions from lovely blogging friends, and I will probably go back and add more places later as I find more pretty patches of purple flowers.
How not to spoil these bluebell woods
Before we get started, I just wanted to mention that although it may look like there are thousands of bluebells, these are pretty delicate flowers. Even if you know it’d make a fantastic instagram post, please don’t trample the flowers or sit in them for a photo. You should keep to the paths as they are easy to see without spoiling them!
Also, please remember to leave no trace that you visited. Don’t drop litter, and don’t pick the flowers. Wild bluebells are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). This means it is illegal to dig them up, or even for landowners to remove them from their land for sale.
Bluebell woods in London – Kew gardens
You need to pay to visit this one (£18.00 at the gate, or £16.50 if you buy online before you go.) But the bluebells in the woodland around Queen Charlotte’s Cottage are simply lovely! I can’t find any of my photos, but I promise, they are goooorgeous.
Bluebell woods in London – Hampstead Heath
Hampstead Heath has quite a few small patches of bluebells dotted around. I noticed quite a few mutations with pink bells and white bells too. Marc and I had several pleasant dates searching for them. My two favoruite locations are around the back of Kenwood House, and in the woodland around the Pergola and Hill gardens.
Bluebells around London
As well as the large patches of bluebells mentioned above, there are hundreds and hundreds of small patches of bluebells all over London. These are not actually wild, but they will brighten up any hike around the city in April and May! I did loads of photos of them, but my hard-drive broke (sob) so I lost most of them. For now, here is one with a London bus sneaking into the background.
Bluebell woods in Surrey – Horton Country Park
By Sam from the Honest Explorer
Horton Country Park is on my backdoor step and a small little woodland area that I have loved growing up by. The woods are fairly small but it’s still possible to take long walks around the whole area. What I love about this place is that there are so many different areas to explore. A thicker wooded section where you can hear the sweet birdsong, a path next the local golf course which is really pretty- especially on a frosty morning. There are several green fields, many with horses in and some with crops growing, which glow golden in the summer sun. You can even walk down the path next to a farm and see some of the animals for free. Ponds, streams and best of all the bluebells in Spring (April). A small covered section towards the back of the woods and just off the main path is where you will see many bluebells covering the forest floor. The best bit about these woods is that there will normally be no-one else there, especially on a weekday. To get here take the train from London Waterloo to Chessington North or South (around 35 mins) and it’s around a 15 walk from there.
There are also many walks close by in the Surrey area- too many to pick from! You could combine your walk in Horton Country Park with Epsom Common, as the paths link up. Just follow the signs in the park for the Chessington route or check google maps.
If you’d like to see other English countryside ideas from Sam, have a peek at her post about 9 beautiful Costswolds Villages.
Bluebells in Kent – Boxley Wood
We found countless fantastic bluebell woods when we hiked along the North Downs Way (from South London to Dover.) One of the woodland areas that stood out was Boxley Wood near Detling. There are easy to follow paths through the woods, and the ground is totally covered in bluebells in all directions. The sweet smell is just perfect! You can see more about the bluebells of Boxley Wood here, in my post walking from Cuxton to Detling.
Bluebells in Kent – Rochester Forest
This is another woodland located on the North Downs Way. If you can, hike the whole way from Otford to Cuxton, as it is a lovely, flower-filled walk. However, if you are short on time, you can easily reach the chain of woodland collectively known as Rochester Forest from Cuxton. Follow the North Downs way path as it leads through ancient glades, then back into meadows, then again into the forest. You will love it!
Bluebells in Kent – Civiley Wood
This bluebell wood will require a little effort, as the forest is located right on the North Downs. To reach these bluebells you need to climb up many steps, then down, then up again. Still, this is actually great because it means when you look out between the trees, you’ll have beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Civiley Wood is also part of the North Downs Way, from Detling to Lenham.
Folkestone Bluebells – Farthing Common
This is the most car-friendly out of my list of bluebells! There is a fantastic densely packed patch of bluebells on Farthing Common, right next to the Farthing Common Viewpoint and car park. This is also along the North Downs Way between Wye and Etchinghill. But even if you don’t do the whole walk, this pretty area is super-easy to reach!
Bluebell Woods Nottingham – Ploughman wood
Ploughman Wood near Woodbough, Nottinghamshire is one of my favoruite places to walk the dog whenever Marc and I go home to visit his family. There are easy to follow paths through this bluebell-filled woodland. There are also some fantastic views of the surrounding villages. You can read more about our adventure to Ploughman Wood here.
Bluebells in Derbyshire – Chatsworth
By Nuraini from Teja on the Horizon
When I found bluebells within the grounds of Chatsworth House, I had given up on finding bluebells. It was June, so it was kind of late in the season. I roamed likely sites near Chesterfield and across the Peak District, hoping that there might be late blooming spots somewhere. But alas, they were all already faded.
Chatsworth was highly recommended to me by a friend who was originally from Chesterfield. The residence of the Duke of Devonshire, you might know it better as ‘Pemberley’ – the manor was the film location for Mr. Darcy’s estate in the movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s romance, Pride and Prejudice. It is located at the edge of Peak District National Park, almost directly west of Chesterfield via the A619 towards Baslow. The manor house itself is interesting, but it’s the massive, beautifully landscaped grounds that really appealed to me. The estate grounds encompass many different walks with different features that are worth exploring over a couple days.
It was on one of these rambles that I chanced upon a glade shaded by a copse of trees. The air within the glade felt moist and cool, and the ground was damp with moisture. In the centre of this last oasis of spring, I finally found my bluebells.
You can read more about Nuraini’s search for bluebells here.
Bluebell Woods Worcestershire – Malvern Hills
We had a lovely stop off, to walk along the top of the Malvern Hills this time last year. I was surprised to find quite a few gorgeous patches of bluebells along the way. This patch was on Summer Hill, and it was covered in flowers. The sun was hiding behind the clouds when I took the photo below, but you can imagine how bright these bluebells would look when they are lit up by the sun. My mum also found a fantastic patch near British Camp, the Iron Age hill fort a little further North.
Bluebell Woods Gloucestershire – Owlpen
English Bluebells vs Spanish Bluebells
I have posted this explanation before (on my post about Ploughman Wood) There are two main kinds of bluebells in the UK:
The native bluebells (on the left) are a little more delicate and their stems curve around to make them look like they are drooping. If you look closely, each petal curves back onto itself too. The thing I love best about the English bluebells is their delicate smell. The Spanish versions (on the right) were imported as garden flowers. They have straight stems and each bell is a little wider. I think they are really pretty, especially as they often seem to mutate into pink and white versions. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have the same sweet smell.