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When & Where To See Wild Bluebells in the UK

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Peak bluebell season is almost here! I can think of very few places in the world that have carpets of bluebells across woodland floors as large or as common as the UK does.

To celebrate this, we’ve teamed up with various other travel writers to showcase some of the very best places to see wild bluebells in the UK. We hope you enjoy seeing various parts of the UK awash with blue and purple hues as you read and as you wander.

Note: I first wrote this blog post back in 2018. It’s since been updated with new places for you to discover. I’ve also written some additional “nature notes” about bluebell season here in the UK to share what I’ve learned over the years.

Beautiful Bluebell Woods in the UK

Leigh Woods, Bristol

Leigh Woods Bluebells

In April and May, you’ll find part of Leigh Woods in Bristol carpeted by a sea of blue-purple hues – courtesy of the delicate bluebells that grace the forest floor at this time of year.

There are two waymarked walking trails you can follow: the purple trail (1.5 miles long) and the red trail (1 mile long).

Both routes are fairly flat making for a gentle and romantic walk. But please be mindful that some of the paths are rocky and have small slopes, so you’ll need to wear appropriate footwear.

You’ll need to walk towards Paradise Bottom (where the stream is) to see the best bluebell display here.

Even though the National Trust and Forestry Commission both care for Leigh Woods, the car park is owned by the Forestry Commission. They charge £2 for up to 2 hours or £4 for all-day parking, which you have to pay even if you’re a National Trust member.

I believe the car park has space for approximately 80 cars. We usually visit Leigh Woods in the morning with our dog, so we’ve personally never seen it full. But I imagine there could be far more people visiting Leigh Woods later in the day, on weekends and during school holidays – and especially during bluebell season.

RELATED: 75 Unmissable Things To Do in Bristol For First Time Visitors

Wenallt Woods, near Cardiff

– Recommended by Cath from Travel Around Ireland

Wenallt Woods Bluebells

A great place to see bluebells in springtime in the UK is Wenallt Woods near Cardiff.

Located on the Cardiff side of Caerphilly Mountain, this woodland area comes alive with beautiful purple bluebells every spring and is very popular with those who live close to the woods.

The Wenallt, as it’s known locally, is called Coed-y-Wenallt in Welsh and is a semi-natural woodland whose border meets those of other woodland areas.

The best time to visit The Wenallt for bluebells is during April because, by early May, the bluebells are dying off. The woods are also popular with walkers and families during the rest of the year thanks to its woodland walks and picnic areas.

The wood is open 24/7 and there are two car parks. But be aware that at peak times during spring, especially at weekends, these can become full very quickly.

The best time to visit the woods to see the bluebells is early morning before the car parks fill up or in the early evening before sunset when the woods will have beautiful golden light shining through the trees.

But no matter when you visit in springtime, you’ll love the blankets of bluebells that carpet the woodland floor.

Balmacaan Woods, near Inverness

– Recommended by Kristin from Scotland Less Explored

Bluebells in Balmacaan Woods

Balmacaan Woods is in Scotland, close to Inverness. The woods are in the small village of Drumnadrochit on the shores of Loch Ness. It’s 30 minutes by bus or car from Inverness and it’s on the way to Skye from Inverness.

What is today woods was once the grounds of the Earl of Grant’s Balmacaan House. During the life of the house, one of the estate owners planted the two enormous redwoods which you can see at the start of the trails into the woods.

There are three main walking routes. They’ve been given the colours blue, red and white. All are fairly short, being no more than 2km and taking a maximum of 1 hour. 

Every year, around early May, there are patches of bluebells dotted throughout the woods. All the trails will take you past the bluebells.

After exploring the woods, why not take a boat trip on Loch Ness to search for the monster? Or dip your toes into the loch at the Loch Ness viewpoints. Anyone interested in the Loch Ness monster should also visit the Loch Ness Centre.

For a bit of culture, end the day at Urquhart Castle, which was built in 1509. It’s a ruin but it’s interesting to visit for the views of the loch and to learn about the castle’s history at its museum.

Chalkney Wood, Essex

– Recommended by Abi from I’m Going On An Adventure

Bluebells in Chalkney Wood

Nestled in the heart of the Essex countryside is the magical Chalkney Wood. I love being outdoors and exploring the British countryside, so Chalkney Woods has long been one of my favourite spots. It helps that it’s one of the best places in the UK to see beautiful bluebells carpeting the forest floor.

The woodland is a 72.6-hectare biological SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) southeast of Earls Colne and a dream for nature fanatics and wildlife warriors. It’s a well-loved woodland with many locals visiting. But you won’t see hordes of tourists as this is a unique local spot.

It’s rich in wildlife and history with many walking trails that weave through the swathe of delicate bluebells.

But it’s not just the bluebells that make this ancient woodland a wonderful place. It’s perfect for families and adventurers with areas for building forts and riding bikes. On the boundary line, you’ll find a farm, which is home to Highland Cows grazing along the path. Forest bathing events are also taking place!

Chalkney Wood is free to visit and there’s a free car park off Tey Road. Don’t miss the wild garlic either. This comes out during spring as the bluebells do and you’ll know you’ve found them when the air welcomes a strong garlic fragrance.

Grovely Woods, Wiltshire

– Recommended by Sarah from Slow Travel

Bluebells at Grovely Woods

Grovely Woods in Wiltshire is the largest ancient woodland in the county, standing high on a chalk ridge above the Wylye Valley. 

Dense woodland of beech, pine and ash, these woods have a long history of human occupation with two Iron Age forts still in evidence amongst the undergrowth, and a broad, straight Roman road, built straight through the woods, on top of an ancient thoroughfare, which has been in use for over 7,000 years.

The woods are a beautiful place to visit in any season, none more so than spring, when a thick carpet of purple English bluebells appears amongst the undergrowth across the expanse of the woods. 

The trees are just coming into leaf, there’s still space for the sunlight to reach the ground and you won’t find a more beautiful time to wander through this ancient woodland.

While you’re exploring, look for the three huge beech trees which have been there since the 16th century. 

Known as The Witches Trees, they’re the final resting place for four sisters who were accused of witchcraft and buried there. The trees have become a place of pilgrimage for many, adorned with clouties and other assorted offerings. 

Hidden in the undergrowth you may also find the World War II bunkers, which once held munitions, protected from the sight of enemy aircraft by the dense foliage.

The best place to park is in the town of Wilton. Be prepared for a bit of a walk as the woods are huge. You won’t find any shops, cafes or toilet facilities once you leave the town, so bear that in mind when planning your visit.

Roseberry Topping, Yorkshire

– Recommended by Maja from Away With Maja

Roseberry Topping Bluebells

One of the top spots to see bluebells in Yorkshire is Roseberry Topping and Newton Wood. 

This is a beautiful area of the North York Moors National Park. Roseberry Topping is the most prominent peak in the park and is affectionately referred to as the Yorkshire Matterhorn. 

Many people visit to climb to the summit, which will take about 45 minutes to one hour. The trail up and down is about 2.5km. The views from here over the moors are phenomenal! 

You can also hike out along the footpaths to Newton Moor and the Captain Cook Monument to extend the walk. 

During spring, bluebells bloom throughout the surrounding woodland in Newton Wood, at the base of Roseberry Topping. 

It’s a short walk from the car park to the woods, where you can see the best bluebells display. 

Note that the car park at Newton under Roseberry can get quite busy on weekends, especially in good weather.

North Cliffe Wood, Yorkshire

– Recommended by Lavina D’Souza from Continent Hop 

Bluebells in North Cliffe Wood in Yorkshire make it a magical place to visit in the spring. The view is breathtaking as this area turns into a pretty blue carpet. There are both English and Spanish bluebells here. 

You can enjoy peaceful forest walks, a wide range of wildlife and a chance to get away into nature. There are many other things to do in Yorkshire as well. Strolling through an area carpeted with bluebells is a sensation like no other. The sound of birds and the smell of flowers make it even calmer.

According to me, late April or early May is the best time to see the bluebells. The paths through the foliage are well-kept, so anyone can get there without much trouble. Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the beautiful scenery and also wear comfortable shoes.

Consider going early in the morning or late in the afternoon to really enjoy the serene surroundings. Stay on the trails to help protect the bluebells and the woods’ natural beauty. This also makes sure that everyone can enjoy them.

Beyond Bluebell Woods: Where Else You Can See Wild Bluebells in the UK

While you’ll often find an abundance of bluebells carpeting ancient woodlands here in the UK, you can also look forward to seeing them in fields and valleys, such as the ones mentioned below.

Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire

– Recommended by Suzanne from The Meandering Wild

Bluebells on Skomer Island

Skomer Island is located in the far southwest of Wales and can be reached by boat from a small cove called Martins Haven. From here the boats leave to make the 20-minute crossing over to Skomer. 

While the island is best known for the puffins and seabirds, arriving in late April means that the island is covered in English bluebells. They are best seen following the path from the Old Farmhouse towards the Garland Stone where the valley is coated in bluebells. 

The puffins are out at sea feeding after their winter away, but if you’re lucky, you’ll see a few starting to nest amongst the bluebells.

If you’re planning a trip to Skomer, you need to book online in advance. The boats fill up quickly as there are limits on the number of visitors each day. The boats are cancelled if the sea conditions are not good enough for a safe landing, so it’s always worth booking two days. 

Once on the island, there are no facilities other than toilets, so you must bring your own refreshments and be prepared for a range of weather conditions as the island is very exposed.

Rannerdale, Cumbria

– Recommended by Heather from Conversant Traveller

Rannerdale Bluebells

The Rannerdale bluebells carpet a hidden valley on the shores of Crummock Water in the Lake District National Park. 

They’re unusual in that they appear out in the open on a mountainside, rather than in a shady woodland area. The surroundings are dramatic with lakes, mountains and cliffs all around.

These bluebells are at their best around the middle of May, which is also a great time to visit the national park. 

There’s a small parking area just a 2-minute walk from the bluebells. It’s free with space for a handful of cars. From there, you just follow the path up into the valley – it winds through the bluebell carpet making for great photos. Take a picnic to enjoy on the riverbank, or for the best light, go in the early evening.

Whilst you’re in the area, pop into the nearby village of Buttermere for a scenic hike around the lake and lunch in one of the quaint cafes. For a more energetic scramble, Rannerdale Knotts is a craggy peak beside the bluebell valley with great views out over Crummock Water.

Aber Falls, Snowdonia

– Recommended by Paulina from the UK Every Day

Bluebells near Aber Falls

Aber Falls in the UK is a fantastic place to witness the breathtaking beauty of bluebells. But this amazing destination also offers much more than just a stunning display of these vibrant flowers. 

The Aber Falls itself is a magnificent waterfall in Wales cascading down a rocky cliff, creating a mesmerising sight and a perfect backdrop for nature lovers and photographers alike.

As you wander through the woodland paths, you’ll be greeted by a sea of bluebells stretching as far as the eye can see. 

The path leading to the waterfall is lined with bluebells and crosses over the Afon Rhaeadr Fawr (Big Waterfall River). The entire experience is truly enchanting and provides a peaceful escape into nature.

Aber Falls is easily accessible from the A55 (North Wales Expressway) between Conwy town and Anglesey Island. 

When visiting Aber Falls, there’s a recommended walking route that takes approximately 30 minutes from the car park to the waterfall. The path is straightforward and offers stunning views of the bluebells along the way.

Glendurgan Gardens, Cornwall

– Recommended by Sarah from Cornwall’s Best

Bluebells at Glendurgan Woods Cornwall

Cornwall’s Glendurgan Gardens are a glorious and relaxing place to see bluebells in the UK.

There are three valleys here within the gardens, and in spring, thousands of bluebells cover the sloping hills of this delightful garden.  

It’s rather special this place, where you can walk through the woods, and down to the beach. The microclimate here means that spring is delightfully warm and that bluebells and exotic flowers flourish at the same time.

There’s more to see here than bluebells though, a maze is one of the primary attractions as well as the myriad of woodland walks, and, of course, that beach on the Helford River is spectacular.  

Glendurgan is managed by the National Trust in the UK (as are many gardens in Cornwall). An annual membership will save you a fortune here in Cornwall, otherwise, entrance costs £11 for adults and £5.50 for children. Get a membership and you’ll benefit from free parking at many locations in Cornwall too!

The closest train stations are Penmere and Falmouth Town, which are on the main branch line from Truro. Trains from Truro take about 20 minutes. The 35 and 63 buses run from Falmouth to Glendurgan.

RELATED: National Trust Membership Review – How To Get Your Money’s Worth

Even More Places To Celebrate Bluebell Season in the UK

Listed below are some of the other places you can explore in the UK, which are known for their blankets of bluebells. 

Please note this list is far from exhaustive as otherwise, this blog post would be over 5,000 words long!

  • Stourhead, Dorset (also worth visiting for its autumn foliage)
  • Godolphin, Cornwall
  • Bodnant Garden, Wales
  • Basildon Park, Berkshire
  • Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
  • The Vyne, Hampshire
  • Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire
  • Emmetts Garden, Kent
  • Enys Gardens, Cornwall
  • Crickley Hill Country Park, Gloucestershire
  • Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
  • Blickling Estate, Norfolk (so renowned for its bluebells that the National Trust used to hold a “Blue Festival” every year where they’d light up the Jacobean mansion to make it appear blue. Sadly, it seems they’ve since stopped doing this)

Bluebell Season Nature Notes

When is bluebell season in the UK?

Peak bluebell season in the UK usually starts in mid-April and continues through to late May. However, this can vary from year to year. If the UK has a particularly mild spring, then bluebells can bloom earlier.

When you see bluebells in the UK also depends on which part of the country you’re exploring. The further south you are, the earlier you’ll see them as it’s slightly warmer in the south than up north.

To see bluebells at their finest in the south, I’d normally recommend looking for them towards the end of April or the beginning of May. That way, they’ve had longer to bloom fully, but aren’t coming to the end of their flowering period either.

Bluebells from Leigh Woods

What bluebells can you see in the UK?

In the UK, you’ll primarily see two types of bluebells: native bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), often called English bluebells, and Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica), which as you might guess are not native to the UK.

Spanish bluebells can also interbreed with native English ones to make a type of hybrid bluebell. These hybrids can display characteristics of both parent species, so you might find it difficult to identify them. 

It’s probably worth mentioning that hybridisation like this poses a threat to native bluebells because the hybrids can outcompete them, potentially causing a decline in native bluebell populations. 

This is partly why native English bluebells are protected, which we’ll discuss in more detail shortly.

What’s the difference between English and Spanish bluebells?

The main differences between English and Spanish bluebells stem from their appearance, scent and where you’ll find them. 

English bluebells are the traditional and iconic bluebells found in the UK. They have slender, drooping stems with deep blue, bell-shaped flowers, creamy pollen and a sweet scent. You’ll usually find them in woodlands – especially ancient ones.

Whereas Spanish bluebells were first introduced to the UK as garden plants in the late 17th century and have since become naturalised in some areas. They have upright stems and their flowers are typically paler blue. Interestingly, they have no scent.

You’ll sometimes find Spanish bluebells growing in woodlands alongside native ones, but you might also see them by the side of the road and in gardens, parks and other open spaces.

Can you pick wild bluebells in the UK?

Although nearly 50% of the world’s English bluebells can be found in the UK, bluebells are a threatened flower species throughout the world. They’re protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), which prohibits anyone from digging up the bulbs – either to sell them or plant them elsewhere.

Bluebells being endangered is partly due to deforestation and upsetting their natural habitat, but it’s also due to how popular it’s become to go on the hunt for bluebell woods and bluebell fields.

Lots of preserved woods are trying their best to clear paths for visitors to see the bluebells without trampling all over them. But not all woods will have this kind of commitment. 

So it’s up to us, as responsible tourists, to admire the bluebells by all means, but ideally from afar and without stepping on these delicate flowers.

Why does the UK have so many bluebells?

The UK has an abundance of bluebells for two main reasons. Firstly, the UK’s climate, particularly the mild and moist conditions we get here, provide the perfect conditions for bluebells to thrive.

Also, the country’s decades-long efforts to manage and preserve British woodlands and other landscapes have helped preserve regions and habitats where bluebells can flourish.

Read More About Spring in the UK

It’s not just bluebells you can look forward to seeing during spring in the UK. Of course, there are other wildflowers. 

But you might also want to check out our UK Spring Bucket List to discover more of the best things to see and do during this beautiful time of year.

Over to you now – where have you seen the most beautiful wild bluebells in the UK? We’re always after recommendations for our wanders, so please drop us a line in the comments below…

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11 Enchanting Places To Discover Wild Bluebells in the UK
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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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