Posted 22nd March
As spring takes over, there will be opportunities to walk in a haze of blue as bluebells take over and start to bloom
Here are some National Trust gardens and woodlands across the country where you can take in some wonders of the season.
You might expect to see bluebells sweeping through shady woodlands, but would you ever think to look for them beside the sea? In May, the north side of Brean Down is covered with bluebells blooming in the open air – right next to the Bristol Channel. Why not pay a visit this spring to see them for yourself?
With acres of woodland, the Killerton estate is a great place to see blankets of bluebells growing between the trees. Find them under the conifers in the garden or lining the path in the Chapel grounds. Fancy somewhere a bit more off the beaten track? Stretch your legs with a walk out to Columbjohn Wood, or scramble up the Clump for stunning views and a whole host of bluebells.
The lake and classical temples in Stourhead’s landscape garden are justly famous, but it’s definitely worth exploring the rest of the wider estate too. Take a stroll through the ancient woods during spring to see millions of bluebells dancing in the dappled shade.
Hardy’s Cottage, Dorset
Just behind Hardy’s cottage lies Thorncombe Woods: a magical pocket of mixed woodland famed for inspiring the work of the famous author and poet. Lying on the southern tip of the woods, the hazel coppice is known by locals to be the best spot to see early bluebells bursting into bloom. Why not take a stroll in the footsteps of Thomas Hardy himself to see them at their best?
From Iron Age forts and colourful heathland to water meadows and even a Roman road, there’s plenty to see on the 8,500 acres of estate at Kingston Lacy. In spring, the woodland walk that follows the edge of the formal garden is a great place to see the annual display of bluebells. Tucked away from the main house, it almost feels like you’re exploring a secret world as you step between the trees.
Image courtesy of Richard Pink
Godolphin’s bluebell display is always spectacular, drawing people back year after year to see the beautiful blooms. Stroll through the tranquil and mysterious woodland carpeted in bluebells throughout April and May. Spot bluebells in the garden and through the long grass in the orchard, creating a wonderful blue haze. Spring is the perfect time of year to visit the garden at Godolphin, along with the bluebells a display of spring wildflowers can be enjoyed throughout the garden.
Image courtesy of Andrew Butler
Bluebell Festival, 16 April – 20 May, 10am – 5pm
Join us in celebrating this wildflower during bluebell festival at Godolphin. Visit the interactive information display in the Cider House to learn about the native bluebell or why not join a bluebell guided walk. Pick up a family trail or a map showing the best route to admire the blue haze.
Lanhydrock is the perfect country house and estate, with the feel of a family home. The estate is well worth exploring, with tranquil riverside paths and ancient woodlands blooming with waves of daffodils and bluebells. Take a stroll to discover bright swathes of colour, and rest easy knowing that your visit helps the National Trust to care for these seasonal delights year after year.
Image courtesy of Rupert Truman
London and South East
Take a walk through the still glades of Winkworth Arboretum in late April and you'll find one of Britain's most beloved natural sights: bluebells growing en masse on the woodland floor. For the best views, follow the Spring Walk and you'll head right into Bluebell Wood, where the most spectacular swathes await.
This is one of the best places in Hampshire to see bluebells. Lace up your walking boots and head out to explore acres of native bluebell woods, criss-crossed with wide, beech avenues to stroll down so you can enjoy the blooms and their delicate perfume with ease. Pick up a map at reception or download our woodland walking trail from the website.
Starting from the Chartwell entrance, follow the newly-waymarked trail up a hill where you will find some fantastic views over Chartwell and the Weald of Kent. In spring beautiful bluebells carpet the natural woodland floor, offering a stunning show of blue along this largely undiscovered walk. Finish the walk with a cup of tea and slice of cake in the café at Chartwell.
A walk through the wild garden at Sheringham Park in early spring will reveal an ever-changing colour palette, as an increasing amount of plants come into flower. Look out for the bluebells that brighten up our waymarked trails at this time of year, especially on Weybourne Heath where they mingle with the white flowers of greater stitchwort to make a beautiful display.
Visit Blickling in spring and discover one of the best places to see bluebells in the country. Follow the winding paths through the Great Wood and pass through swathes of the dainty blue flowers. Late April to early May is usually the best time to see the bluebells as they carpet the woodland floor.
Image courtesy of Matthew Antrobus
Blue Festival, 19 April – 19 May
To celebrate the beautiful bluebell season, the house will be lit up in blue at night. Enjoy a guided bluebell walk through the estate (26, 27 & 28 April at 10am), or treat yourself to a pot or two of bluebells from the plant centre to enjoy in your own garden. Why not visit for an afternoon of music in the garden too (Saturday 26 May, from 3pm – 7pm).
Even on a dreary day the sight of delicate bluebells in bloom will surely bring a smile to your face. They carpet the woodland floor at Sutton Hoo, so keep an eye out for bright flashes of blue as you explore this hauntingly beautiful estate with its ancient burial mounds and far-reaching views over the River Deben. If that’s not spring-like enough for you, then you can also look out for rare-breed baby lambs taking their first wobbly steps in the fields.
From late April Bluebells will be blooming across the Dingle – a beautiful wooded valley created by keen botanist Francis Whitmore, who lived at Dudmaston between 1775 and 1815. The dainty blue flowers are a favourite at Dudmaston with pockets of them hidden all across the estate. Collect a Bluebell spotter guide from reception to discover all of the best spots to see them for yourself.
The aptly named 'Bluebell Wood' at Clumber Park is transformed in spring time. The carpet of intense blue under the opening tree canopy is one of our greatest woodland spectacles. The traditional early flowering of bluebells makes the most of the sunlight that reaches the woodland floor before the woodland trees cast their shade. Millions of bulbs may grow closely together in one wood, creating one of nature’s most stunning displays.
As you arrive at Croft this spring, you will notice smatterings of bluebells in and around the trees along the entrance drive. If you really want to surround yourself by a burst of blue, head to the historic wood pasture which is being carefully restored by the National Trust in partnership with the Forestry Commission and Natural England. You’ll find thousands of the delicate blue blooms underneath the Candelabra Oak, which is the perfect spot to get lost in your thoughts and listen to the birds.
From mid-April onwards, carpets of bluebells can be found along the path through Serpentine Wood at Calke. It’s thought that it can take up to 200 years for a continuous carpet of bluebells to develop on undisturbed ground, and this slow spread means bluebells are often an indicator of ancient woodland sites. Pop into the ticket office and they will point the way, or follow your nose – the aroma of the spring flowers is hard to beat.
Image courtesy of Gillian Day
Bluebells are the undisputed spring highlight at Hardcastle Crags, filling the air with their sweet perfume. At their peak they carpet the ground, forming a beautiful blue haze through the wooded valley.
Image courtesy of Simon Fraser
Spring is an ideal time to take in the delightful gardens surrounding this Tudor timber-framed manor house on the banks of the River Mersey. Wander through the estate to Clough Woods where you can follow the fantastic display of bluebells on the Bluebell Trail or take a tour to discover how the team at Speke protect the endangered spring flower. With its sea of blue, this oasis of woodland makes the perfect spot for an idyllic stroll.
Part of the largest area of ancient woodland in Northumberland, Allen Banks is covered in wild flowers each spring. A carpet of bluebells and ramsons, commonly known as wild garlic, covers the woodland floor in spring and early summer and make a beautiful setting for a spring time wander.
Head off the beaten track and discover the wild site of Skelghyll Woods near Ambleside for a true spring time experience. The oak woodland will keep you mesmerised at any time of year, but visit in spring and you’ll be rewarded with carpets of wildflowers, such as bluebells, wood sorrel, daffodils and wild garlic.
Coed-y-Bwnydd is the largest Iron Age hill fort in Monmouthshire, with a history of human involvement stretching back more than 2,000 years. Today, dappled shade and spring time birdsong mean this gently rolling landscape continues to be a haven for people and wildlife alike. Take a stroll along paths surrounded by carpet of bluebells, primroses, orchids and red campion, and drink in spectacular views of the Usk Valley beyond.
Springtime at Dinefwr is all about the blossom of trees, the chorus of birdsong and the sight of new-born animals gambolling in the fields, not to mention the spectacular display of Bluebells. The best place to find them is up on Rookery Ridge and they’re usually at their best in May, although it does depend on the weather.
Spring is here, and the gardens at Bodnant are beginning to shimmer with drifts of bluebells.
See them mingling with bright daffodils in the Old Park meadow, carpeting the ground under cherry blossom trees and flowering shrubs in the Glades, and running among the trees in Furnace Wood. As well as providing a splash of seasonal colour, their flowers provide an important early source of nectar for bees, hoverflies, butterflies and other insects that make their homes at Bodnant. Visitors will be able to enjoy newly planted bluebells in Furnace Wood, which opened to the public last year.
Chirk Castle, Wrexham
Complete with a 700 year old castle, far-reaching views across the Cheshire and Shropshire plains and an award-winning garden, Chirk Castle’s 480 acre estate is a great place to find some signs of spring. Follow the blue trail from early May to see one of the real highlights: the enchanting carpet of bluebells spread throughout the woodland.
Late spring brings a splash of vivid blue to Penrhyn Castle. Bluebells can be seen all around the gardens and woodland in May, a beautiful contrast of colour against the castle’s grey exterior. Possibly the best spot is the meadow in front of the castle, which turns into a swathe of blue during the spring months. Penrhyn is also working hard to encourage local wildlife, so follow the nature trails to find out more and explore the lesser-known parts of the castle grounds.
Part gothic castle and part classical Palladian Mansion, this unique 18th century house is famed for its mixture of architectural styles. The wider estate offers plenty to explore from the Georgian farmyard to the shores of Strangford Lough, and in spring time there are around five miles of bluebell trails waiting to be discovered. Follow the Boundary trail or head to Mountain Wood to see the best displays of these striking spring blooms.
Take a wander through the wooded Cregagh glen at Lisnabreeny, and follow the path as it winds up to the hill fort on the summit of the Castlereagh hills, just east of Belfast. In springtime the woods are full of flowers, including wood anemone and carpets of bluebells.
The mild climate around Mount Stewart has allows a wide range of plants to grow, from the Mediterranean wonders in the formal gardens to the shady woods with their range of plants from all corners of the world. Even so, in spring time it’s the bluebells that are the stars of the show as they cover the grounds with swathes of colour.
This ancient woodland sits in a tranquil landscape on the peaceful shores of Upper Lough Erne. One of Ireland’s most important conservation areas, it is home to many rare species of flowers and fauna. Come spring, the floor of the oak woodland will be covered with bluebells – the perfect setting for a peaceful stroll.
Lead image courtesy of Arnhel de Serra