Few sights are quite so joyful in May as a sea of English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta). The UK is thought to have around half of the world’s population of bluebells, and whether carpeting the floors of ancient woodland in dappled light or forming a blue haze across open moorland, the bell-shaped flowers are always a magical sight. Here we’ve put together a list of places to visit to see bluebells this month.
Holwell Lawn near Widecombe-in-the-moor in Dartmoor National Park
The Holwell Lawn Bluebell Circular walk starts by Hound Tor, where you can see the bluebells from an elevated height. From there, a grass track takes you through the carpet of bluebells past ancient sites and on to other Tors. On a sunny day, the sight and smell of the flowers drift across the moor. This route is easily accessible and suitable for all ages. dartmoor.gov.uk.
Coed Cefn, Crickhowell, Powys
Coed Cefn woods are dominated by a canopy of oak and beech and in May, the ancient trees provide shelter for the bluebells carpeting the woodland floor. Adding to the history is an Iron Age hilltop fort and dry stone walls. Refresh yourself afterwards with coffee and cake in one of Crickhowell’s lovely tea shops. woodland trust.org.uk.
Skomer Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast
This small island off the Pembrokeshire coast is home to lots of exciting flora and fauna. Seals, buzzards, rabbits and puffins are a regular sight and in May, bluebells and campion cover the heathland and turn the island blue. The colours are so vivid, they can be seen from the mainland. You will need to wear suitable clothing and to access the island you will need to climb 87 steep steps from where the boat lands – so not for the faint-hearted. Boats run from Martin’s Haven Tuesdays to Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. visitpembrokeshire.com.
Glen Finglas, Scotland
Glen Finglas a great expanse of ancient woodland, lochs and open heathland at the heart of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. You can walk and mountain bike through the estate and there is a mix of short lowland walks to longer upland trails. It is the largest of the Woodland Trust’s estates and a popular spot to see bluebells amongst the stunning Scottish scenery. woodlandtrust.org.uk.
Sissinghurst Castle, Kent
Over half of the 150 acre woodlands on the Sissinghurst Castle estate is filled with the fresh, heady scent of bluebells in spring. Take a walk through the grounds and you can admire other wild flowers too, including primroses, stitchwort and wild sorrel. nationaltrust.org.uk.
Ashridge Estate, Buckinghamshire
Join one of the guided bluebell walks to see the impressive spread of bluebells in Dockey Wood on the Ashridge Estate and learn how the rangers are taking decisive measure to preserve them. national trust.org.uk.
Hartland Abbey and Gardens, North Devon
Built in the 12th century, Hartland Abbey survived as a monastery longer than any other in the country. The 18th-century woodland gardens were created on either side of the Abbey and woodland walks lead to four secret walled gardens. In spring the wood is full of colour and the bluebell display is spectacular. hartlandabbey.com.
Pwll-y-Wrach, Brecon Beacons National Park
Pwll-y-Wrach nature reserve in the Brecon Beacons contains 43 acres of ancient woodland and a spectacular double waterfall, which plunges into a deep pool – giving the reserve its name Pwll-y-Wrach Witches’ Pool. In late spring, bluebells mix with the white flowers of wild garlic, filling the air with amazing scent. After rain the path can be slippery and uneven underfoot but if the weather is warm, it’s a beautiful spot for a swim. breconbeacons.org.