The 10 Most Beautiful Bluebell Woods in the UK
The bluebell woods that are found all over the UK are the absolute highlight of Britain in the spring. We’re not saying that you should visit the UK in the spring just for the bluebells… but you really should! Taking a walk through a British wood with the birds chirping and the spring sun streaming through the tree canopy onto a carpet of bluebells is just magical.
Bluebells (known as the English bluebell or the common bluebell) are native to western Europe, in particular the UK, where they are found in ancient, broadleaf woodlands and really are a breathtaking sight when they’re in full bloom. Luckily for us, we have over half of the world’s population of bluebells in our UK bluebell woods!
This wildlflower spectacle is nothing short of breathtaking and you if you do happen to be visiting the UK in the spring, here’s where you can find the best bluebells (including a few bonus bluebell woods in London)!
Before we go into where to find the best bluebell woods in the UK and when to visit them, we would just like to mention for anyone who may not be aware, that bluebells are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).
As such, you cannot willfully damage them (no picking, uprooting or trampling on them) or you will face a large fine. They take years to grow and then years to recover if they suffer footfall damage. There’s more information on the National Trust website about the protection of our national flower.
They also have a lovely, calming video of an British wood in the spring with a violet carpet of bluebells in full flower. It is truly stunning.
Best time to see the bluebells
Many people ask ‘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 being the beginning to mid-May. It is a relatively short lived season, so you need to make sure you visit between these times.
These are some of the best places to see bluebells in the UK but if none of these bluebell woods are near you, a quick search of ‘bluebell woods near me’ will give you some local suggestions.
Hopefully you’ll be able to visit one of these woods on a family walk as they really are quite stunning.
Heartwood Forest in Hertfordshire
Where: Sandridge, Saint Albans, Hertfordshire, AL4 9DQ
Heartwood Forest is an 858 acre forest in Hertfordshire that is managed by the Woodland Trust. It used to be largely agricultural land but they have undertaken a massive replantation scheme and it is now the largest (new) native forest in England.
As well as the newly forested area, Heartwood Forest has four ancient woods (Round Wood, Langley Wood, Well and Pudler’s Wood and Pismire Spring) and it is here that you’ll find the bluebells.
From the far corner of the car park (furthest from the entrance), you can head up a track directly to Langley Wood where you’ll find the best bluebells. This track is also used by horses and dog walkers and can get very muddy.
If you have time, you can take one of the scenic circular walks to visit the other bluebell forests; Magical Meander, Wildlife Wander or the Heartwood Hike. If you’re visiting with kids, they are sure to love the Magical Woods with wooden animal sculptures.
There is a decent sized (and free) car park at Heartwood but there are no facilities. There are toilets in the nearby village hall in Sandridge (although they are currently shut). If you are looking for something to eat, we can highly recommend the Heartwood Tea Rooms.
Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire
Where: Moneybury Hill, Ringshall, Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, HP4 1LT
The beautiful National Trust run Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire pops with colour in the spring when the cobalt bluebell flowers cover the woodland floor and we love it. We are a little spoiled for choice in Hertfordshire but Ashridge really is one of the best bluebell walks near me.
Because the bluebells at Ashridge are so popular, the National Trust has introduced a small charge to see them which goes towards ensuring their protection. It costs £3 per adult and £1 per child at weekends between 10 am and 4 pm and is free for National Trust members and at all other times.
To see the best bluebells at Ashridge, you should head to Dockey Wood but if it is particularly busy, there are other walks on the estate where you will also see bluebells. There is a bluebell walk map available from the visitor centre for £1.
The main parking area at Ashridge Estate is down near the visitor centre and all the way down the drive leading down to the Bridgewater Monument. You can also park at Ivinghoe Beacon
There are toilets at the visitor centre and although there is a cafe, it is currently closed. There are a couple of snack vans there though.
While you’re in the area, you might also like to check out the Tring Natural History Museum or ZSL Whipsnade Zoo which are both about 15 minutes away or the Gruffalo Trail at Wendover Woods which is 25 minutes away.
Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall
Submitted by Heather of Conversant Traveller
Where: Pentewen, Saint Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN
One of the joys of visiting the Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey in southern Cornwall, is the extensive woodland areas, which during Spring and early Summer are carpeted with millions of dancing bluebells.
To see this dazzling display for yourself, head to the mysteriously named Lost Valley section of the gardens, where you’ll also come across secret pools and native wildflower meadows bursting with colour.
The estate woodlands are sustainably managed and there are a number of walking trails to choose from to ensure the bluebells are protected from trampling, with plenty of spots for picnics along the way. It’s certainly one of the best places to visit in Cornwall if you want to experience nature at its finest.
As well as the bluebell woods, there is a sub-tropical jungle ravine complete with rope bridge and giant ferns, some cultivated Victorian kitchen gardens and a sculpture trail to discover. Children will love the wildlife encounters on the estate, from seeing birds around the forest hide to meeting rare breed livestock such as highland cows and Tamworth pigs on the working farm.
There’s parking on site, as well as a café and toilets, and you should allow around four hours to explore all the different areas.
Micheldever Wood in Hampshire
Submitted by Suzanne from Meandering Wild
Where: Chillandham Lane, Micheldever, Hampshire, SO24 9UB
Micheldever Woods are located in Hampshire, 5 miles north of Winchester just off the A33. The M3 motorway cuts through the woods, but does not allow access. The woods are owned and maintained by the Forestry Commission and there is a small free car park with picnic benches but no other facilities on the edge of the forest.
During bluebell season the whole woodland is coated in bluebells and many of the smaller paths become lost. The paths are unmarked so it is easy to wander into different areas without really realising where you are, making it even more of a magical experience. The woods aren’t huge so it is easy to take a circular walk all the way around the area in a short period of time.
As well as the bluebells, the woods have a Bronze Age burial mound and Iron Age earthworks which are marked by information boards both in the car park and by the sites themselves. The small village of Micheldever is nearby with half timber framed buildings and a Norman church which can be explored alongside a walk through the woods.
Wenallt Woods in Wales
Submitted by Cath from Travel Around Ireland
Where: Wenallt Road, Cardiff, CF14 6TQ
One of the most beautiful bluebell woods in the UK is the Wenallt Woods on Caerphilly Mountain near Cardiff. Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the Wenallt is an area of semi-natural ancient woodlands.It is a well-known natural beauty spot with locals and those who live in South Wales.
The woods have walking trails throughout them allowing visitors to explore. But it is springtime which brings the most interest thanks to the blankets of bluebells that cover the grass under the trees of these woods.There is also an Iron Age ring fort located in the southern part of the Wenallt woodland, dating from between 800BC and 55AD.
The woods are open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week and there are two car parks, although these can get very busy at popular times of the year. The woods are reached by taking the Wenallt Road heading north from Rhiwbina in Cardiff, or turning right at the Traveller’s Rest pub at the top of Caerphilly Mountain and heading south.
There are numerous trails marked throughout the woods and a few picnic benches near the car parks. However, be warned there are no other facilities there. Dogs are welcome but keep them on leads. And if you are going to photograph the bluebells, the best time is in the late afternoon when they will be bathed in golden light.
Ashenbank Wood in Kent
Where: Halfpence Lane, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 3HB
Ashenbank Wood is a 74 acre woodland situated in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty just outside of the M25 and about 3 miles (5km) west of Rochester.
The woodlands are also a Site of Specific Scientific Interest with a wide array of rare and interesting wildlife. There are also archaeological features to look out for such as the Bronze Age Barrow dating back to 2400-1500BC which is located in the high ground at the centre of the wood. There are also the remains of some World War II bunkers.
The main entrance to the woods is from the Woodland Trust carpark (free). There are 2 wayward marked trails you can take to explore the woods. The blue one is about 1 km and the red one is about 1.5 km. The best bluebells are located towards the southern end of the wood.
If you’re looking for a longer walk, The Darnley Trail is a 10 km circular walk taking in the parks and woodlands surrounding Ashenbank Wood.
There are no toilets in the wood and no café. The nearest toilets are at Shorne Wood Country Park visitor centre. Whilst you are in the area, you might like to check out nearby Rochester, home of Rochester Castle, one of the oldest castles in England.
Hackfall Wood in North Yorkshire
Where: Hackfall, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DE
Hackfall Wood is a 118 acre woodland managed by the Woodland Trust on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Due to the terrain of the rocky gorge that the ancient woodland is situated in, some of the woodland tracks that slope down to the River Ure can be a challenge, particularly in wet weather. The area is really beautiful though with plenty to see including waterfalls, grottos, rustic temples and castle ruins.
All the seats you find along your walk will have amazing views so make sure to stop for a few breaks. For the best views of the Hackfall wood bluebells, stay on the top paths.
Because of the large number of wild animals to be found in the wood, it has been designated a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI). You might expect to come across bats, buzzards and badgers – and a few other animals not beginning with B!
Hackfall carpark is currently closed for renovation and due to open in Decemer 2020. There’s a small car park at the Masham end of Hackfall or there is parking in Grewelthorpe. There are no toilets and no café but there is a café in nearby Grewelthorpe.
Blickling Estate in Norfolk
Where: Blickling, Norwich, Norfolk, NR11 6NF
Blickling Estate is a beautiful National Trust owned Jacobean mansion in Norfolk about 15 miles (25 km) north of Norwich. There are over 4,600 acres of beautifully designed gardens and parkland to explore which are great for families, dog lovers and cyclists.
There are three main areas to spot the bluebells at Blickling; the Temple Walk, the Great Wood and under the plane trees (with views back of the house and lake). You can pick up a map of the Blickling walks at the visitor centre.
Remember to book tickets in advance. Adults are £10 and children are £5. There is an on-site car park as well as toilets and a café, although it is currently only doing takeaway.
If it’s a beautiful day, you might want to continue on up to the north Norfolk coast where you’ll find some of the best beaches in Norfolk. Or check out one of the best family attractions in Norfolk; BeWILDerwood or Roarr! Dinosaur Park.
Clent Hills in Worcestershire
Where: Hagley Wood Lane, Halesowen, Worcestershire, B62 0NL.
The Clent Hills, beautiful undulating countryside managed by the National Trust in the Midlands, becomes carpeted with swathes of bluebells in the spring.
The best place to see the bluebells is in the valley behind the Four Stones. The sides of the valley are completely covered in bluebells that stretch down into the woods. Unlike many of the bluebell woods in the UK, the bluebells are more prolific in the open than in the woods, although you will still find them dotted around the woods.
From the high points, you’ll have views over across to the Cotswolds, Shropshire and the Welsh border. The National Trust run guided walks through bluebell season at a cost of £2.50 per person.
There is a car park at Nimmings Wood which costs £3 for the day. You’ll find toilets at the Nimmings Wood car park, a small café and a play area for kids.
Kinclaven Bluebell Wood in Scotland
Where: Between Murthly and Kinclaven, Perth, PH1 4QP
Located just under 11 miles (18km) from Perth is Kinclaven Bluebell Wood (previously known as Ballathie Bluebell Wood), one of the best bluebell woods in Scotland.
Kinclaven Wood is made up of the 125 acre oak woodland (North Wood) and 79 acres of grassland (Court Hill) and is said to have been where William Wallace and his army took shelter.
There’s an easy circular walk around the woods on an earth track. It is mostly flat but it will get muddy if there has been wet weather so you need to be prepared for that.
The woods are home to many species of animal including the great spotted woodpecker, pine marten and red squirrel.
There is a small car park to the north west side of the wood with space for about 30 cars.
Best bluebell woods in London
If you happen to be visiting London in the spring, you might be surprised to know that there are a few places in London where you can find bluebells. Talking a walk in a bluebell wood is a lovely free thing to do in London. Here are a few options.
Hyde Park – after a planting incentive in 2013 when 40,000 English bluebell bulbs were planted, there are plenty to spot.
Hampstead Heath – this enormous park in north London has many woodland patches where you’ll find bluebells. Try Lime Avenue Bank. Don’t forget to check out the fabulous views of London.
Highgate Wood – this 28 acre patch of woodland used to join the Forest of Middlesex which covered most of London, Hertfordshire and Essex in medieval times. You can easily reach Highgate Wood as it is next to Highgate Station on the Northern Line.
Osterley Park – not far from Kew, this National Trust run house and gardens have some lovely bluebell woods. They also run bluebell walks.
Richmond Park – although better known for its Azaleas and Rhododendrons, there is a bluebell walk in the Isabella Plantation.
Bluebell photoshoots are just as popular as photoshoots in lavender fields and the results can be truly stunning. From personal experience, however, it can be quite hard to capture the beauty of the bluebells, especiallly if you are dealing with dappled light in the woodland area.
Here are some hints from the National Trust on bluebell photography. Please also remember not to walk through the bluebells to create an illusion of being surrounded by bluebells (see above for willfull damage). With the right angles, you can do this without sitting amongst them.
A professional photographer will do this far better than I ever could, but this will give you a bit of an idea of what I mean.