The 10 Most Beautiful Bluebell Woods in Hertfordshire
At various times of the year, the UK bursts with colour. From the bright red poppies in June to the swathes of purple lavender in July but it is the sea of blue in bluebell season that we love the most. Luckily for us, there are so many lovely bluebell woods in Hertfordshire where we live.
We’ve been visiting bluebell woods in Hertfordshire since the kids were little. We go every year and even during lockdown, we were able to walk to one of the bluebell woods nearby. We love family walks in the woods in the spring when they’re carpeted in a sea of blue, and can’t resist having our own mini-photoshoots.
We have picked 10 of the best Hertfordshire bluebell woods for you to visit with a little information on where to find them, what facilities they have there and anything else of interest in the area. But first, a little helpful information on viewing the English bluebells.
Best time to visit the bluebell woods in Hertfordshire
We are often asked ‘when is the best time to see the bluebells?’ English bluebells flower between mid-April and mid-May with peak bluebell season in the UK usually at the beginning of May. It is a relatively short lived season, so you need to make sure you visit between these times or you will be disappointed.
Protection of bluebells
Bluebells are found in ancient broadleaf wooded areas throughout the UK and Europe and are protected under the Countryside Act (1981). This means that it is illegal to willfully damage bluebells. There are heavy fines for anyone found to be causing damage.
Most, if not all, of the woods will have designated paths which you need to stick to. Even before the bluebell season has started or when the bluebell season has ended and they look dead, they can still be damaged if trampled on.
Photoshoots in bluebell woods are just as popular as photoshoots in lavender fields and, in the process of trying to get the perfect photo, some people have been known to trample on the bluebells.
As tempting as it is to put the kids in amongst the bluebells for a great shot, with clever photography skills and the right angles, you can make it look like they are surrounded by bluebells without stepping on any. The National Trust has a guide to photographing bluebells.
Not in Hertfordshire? Don’t miss our post on the best bluebell woods in the UK. If you are in Hertfordshire, here are the best bluebell woods in Hertfordshire…
Ashridge Estate is perhaps the most well-known of the Hertfordshire bluebell woods. The sprawling National Trust run estate attracts many visitors each spring from miles around. It has become so popular that the National Trust has had to start charging the otherwise free-to-visit woodlands.
At peak times (between 10 am and 4 pm at weekends) there is a charge of £3 per adult and £1 per child. The money goes towards ensuring the protection of the bluebells. The best place to see the bluebells at Ashridge Estate is at Dockey Wood which is to the north of the main entrance area and visitor centre.
There is a lot of free parking, but it can get very busy, especially when there has been a lot of wet weather because they have to close off some areas. It is best to come early in the day to avoid disappointment. There is also a visitor centre, toilets and a café.
Where: Moneybury Hill, Ringshall, Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, HP4 1LT
Heartwood Forest is a large, mostly man-made woodland area near Saint Albans run by the Woodland Trust. It is hugely popular with dog walkers because of the large expanses of open meadow for them to run free (although certain areas require dogs to be on leads).
In amongst the newly planted trees are four ancient woods; Round Wood, Langley Wood, Well and Pudler’s Wood and Pismire Spring. The best place to see the bluebells in Heartwood Forest is Langley Wood.
There are a few short walking trails that will take you to the woods as well as other parts of the forest, including the Magical Woods where you will find lovely carved woodland creatures.
There is a free car park but it can get busy at weekends. There are no facilities at Heartwood Forest. The nearest facilities will be in the little village of Sandridge nearby.
Where: Sandridge, Saint Albans, Hertfordshire, AL4 9DQ
Gustard Wood is a small woodland area on the outskirts of Wheathampstead, a pretty little Hertfordshire village that sits on the River Lea. The bluebells are found in Lamer Wood and can be reached on a 1.5 mile (2.3 km) loop which can get very muddy in bad weather.
There is no official parking, but you can park in a small layby on Lamer Lane. See here for the Gustard Wood loop for directions. It is probably one of the least-known bluebell woods in Hertfordshire and is not often busy.
If there is no parking here, you can park at the nearby Cross Keys pub. It has a huge beer garden is a great place for a lunch after a walk (which you should do if you are using their car park).
There are no facilities associated with the wood which is another good reason to have a meal at the pub. Nearby is the National Trust run Shaw’s Corner.
Where: Gustard Wood, Ballslough Hill, Saint Albans, AL4 8LA
Broxbourne Woods are located just outside of the M25 near Cheshunt. They have been designated a National Nature Reserve. There are lots of well-maintained walking routes ranging from a 30-minute stroll to a 10.8 mile (17.5 km) trail.
Wormley Wood and Nut Wood lie within the Broxbourne Wood National Nature Reserve and it is here that you will find the bluebells. Park at the Bencroft Wood Car Park. Broxbourne Wood is one of the best bluebell woods in Hertfordshire for families because of the sculpture trail.
If you are visiting with kids, you should visit the Broxbourne Woods Sculpture Trail with carved wooden sculptures depicting the history of the ancient woodlands. Note – you will need Broxbourne Wood East Car Park for the sculpture trail.
There are a number of free car parks and it will depend on which part of the woods you are visiting as to which one you use, but be aware that they have a 2 metre height barrier in place. There are no facilities at the woods.
If you have dinosaur fans in your family, you might want to check out the nearby Paradise Wildlife Park, one of the best dinosaur parks in the UK.
Where: Bencroft Wood, 38 Brickendon Lane, Brickendon, Hertford, SG13 8NU
Whippendell Wood is a 165 acre woodland area which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due ito its diverse habitats. It is located just next to the very popular Cassiobury Park in Watford and is easily accessed from London on public transport. The Watford (Metropolitan line) tube station is just across from the entrance to the park.
The Watford 10K that takes place in Mary (nicknamed the bluebell run) passes through the bluebell woods. There are plenty of facilities in Cassiobury Park, including a fabulous water park for kids if you happen to be visiting in the summer months. The best car park for the woods is the Whippendell Wood Car Park which is located on Grove Mill Lane.
Also in the area are the Warner Bros Studios, a must-do if you are a Harry Potter fan visiting London.
Where: Whippendell Wood, Grove Mill Ln, Chandler’s Cross, Rickmansworth, WD3 4NA
Panshanger Park is a 1000 acre Grade II listed park just to the east of Welwyn Garden City and near Hertford. There are several walking trails through open parkland (where you can get up close with some Longhorn cattle) as well as woodland areas.
The best bluebells are found in Lady Hughes Wood which sits at the top of the hill overlooking Osprey Lake which can be accessed easily from the car park. If you want a longer walk, carry on to the west of the park where you will see the ruins of the grand Orangery, part of the former estate of the Cowper family. There is also a fabulous (and rather large) great oak tree.
There is a small (free) car park with a (low) 2 metre height barrier but there are no other facilities in the park.
Where: Panshanger Park, Theives Lane, Hertford, SG14 2WN
Gobions Wood is a small, 36 hectare woodland managed by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. It is located in Brookmans Park and is one of the closest bluebell woods to London. It is made up of mainly ancient woodland with some grassland and ponds.
You will notice the remains of the 18th century ornamental gardens which were favoured by the Victorians. The garden of Gobions was once one of the most famous gardens in England.
The paths through the wood are relatively good with bridges across streams and step access on slopes. The bluebells can be seen along the 1 mile (1.6 km) bluebell loop trail. You should just about be able to make out the famous 18th century landmark, Folly Arch, if you look south out of the wood.
There is no dedicated car park so the best place to park is on Mymms Drive, a residential road. There are also no facilities in the wood.
Where: Off Mymms Drive, Brookmans Park, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, AL9 7AF
Pryor’s Wood is a small woodland area located on the eastern edge of Stevenage. It is owned by the North Hertfordshire District Council and run by the Countryside Management Service. The main entrance to the woods is on Gresley Way.
During bluebell season, the volunteer wardens provide a guided walk through the bluebells which takes about 2 hours. A donation of £2 is suggested which goes to the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
There is no car park here, but there is a small layby on Gresley Way and parking can also be found in the nearby residential area opposite the wood.
Where: Pryor’s Wood, Gresley Way, Stevenage, SG2 7QH
Tewin Orchard Nature Reserve
Tewin Orchard Nature Reserve is a small, village orchard which is located just to the east of Welwyn and is run by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
While the nature reserve is home to many fruit trees and is beautiful in the spring when they blossom, the bluebells are also a sight to behold. The bluebells are found in Hopkyns Wood. It is also home to a Badger sett and allows for excellent badger watching opportunities.
There is a small (free) car park just inside the reserve entrance.
Where: 2 Upper Green Road, Tewin, Hertfordshire, AL6 0LZ
Sherrardspark Wood is a 75 hectare area of ancient, broadleaf woodland near Welwyn Garden City. It has been designated a Site of Specific Scientific Interest because of its sessile oak and hornbeam trees.
The woodlands are criss-crossed with footpaths and are popular with joggers and dog walkers. Being on the edge of the city, these bluebell woods are easily accessed if you are travelling by public transport on a day trip from London.
The bluebells are found in the northern part of the woods.
There is a small, free car park on Rectory Road (Bosque Welwyn Woods Car Park).
Where: Sherrardspark Wood, Rectory Rd, Welwyn Garden City, Welwyn AL8 7SU
Other places to see bluebells
It’s also worth nothing if you are visiting Hatfield House in the Spring, their gardens are strewn with bluebells and the Luton Hoo Estate (which is bang on the border or Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire), has some lovely bluebells and they usually organise bluebell walks.