A short burst of sunshine, a gentle rise in temperature… it doesn’t take much for Britain’s wildflowers to bloom.
But no display is more eagerly anticipated than the eruption of bluebells. Covering fields and woodlands across the UK, these delicate carpets of colour captivate photographers and nature enthusiasts year after year.
The season is short – lasting from April until May – so you’ll need to plan visits. These are some of the spectacular spots we recommend you try.
1. Brean Down, Somerset
Although normally associated with woodland enclaves, it’s possible to find bluebells by the sea too. Overlooking the Bristol Channel, the north side of this down is covered in flowers from May.
How: The area is free to explore. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk
2. Foxley Wood, Norfolk
Supposedly visible from space, Norfolk’s largest ancient woodland was once packed with light-blocking conifers, meaning very little grew on the forest floor. Due to the work of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, many of those trees have been cut back and carpets of bluebells have returned.
How: The forest is free to explore. Visit norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk
3. Hardcastle Crags, Yorkshire
With a renovated mill as its centrepiece, this wooded valley is characterised by ravines and waterfalls. In spring, bluebells burst from the forest floor, providing an additional attraction. It’s possible to explore independently, but on April 28 free guided walks will run through the Lower Crimsworth Valleys, where the main displays can be found.
How: It’s free to visit, although Gibson Mill has opening times. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/hardcastle-crags
4. Heartwood Forest, Sandridge
Thanks to the planting of 600,000 saplings, this ancient forest has become a source of pride and joy for the Woodland Trust. Bluebell fields regularly draw visitors, although the Trust warns people to stick to paths; in the past, more than an acre of flowers has been accidentally trampled underfoot.
How: Visit heartwood.woodlandtrust.org.uk
5. Godolphin, Cornwall
In April and May, the 16th century gardens of this historic home put on one of the best bluebell displays – with a footpath allowing easy viewing access. A popular spot, it does attract crowds – but in such a romantic setting it’s easy to forget other people are around. From April 16 – May 20, a Bluebell Festival will be held, giving visitors an opportunity to learn more about the flowers.
How: Adults, £9.50; children, £4.80. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/godolphin