Spring has arrived and what better way to brighten your day than with the sight and scent of bluebells covering a woodland floor on a warm spring day. Now the National Trust has revealed the best places to spot dramatic carpets of bluebells in the Chilterns and Thames Valley
With over half the global population of bluebells flowering on UK shores, Britain’s beautiful blue spring is a quintessential part of our native landscape. And the National Trust is one of the most important organisations in the UK for bluebells – a quarter of the Trust’s woodland is ancient or semi-natural; the ideal habitats for bluebells to flourish.
Matthew Oates, a Naturalist for the National Trust, adds: “The bluebell starts growing in January with its sole purpose to flower before the other woodland plants. However, timing of flowering depends on elevation, latitude, aspect, soils, geology and local climate conditions – they depend on warm ground conditions to help them grow. The true beauty of our bluebells – the intense blue colour, the delicate scent, the view – makes them an essential and special element to our springtime experience.”
Discover the delights of these delicate flowers that transform Britain’s woodlands in April and May. The top National Trust places in the Chilterns and Thames Valley where you can enjoy bluebells in all their glory includes:
Way-marked woodland trails from 1.5-4.5miles at Ashridge near Tring (Bucks/Herts border) have a stunning display of bluebells beneath the bright-green beech canopy. Red kites can also be seen here. Downloadable bluebell walks at Ashridge: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ashridge-estate/trails/three-in-one-bluebell-walk-at-ashridge
The beautiful woodlands surrounding Hughenden Manor near High Wycombe are criss-crossed with footpaths and carpeted with a dreamy haze of bluebells in late spring. Downloadable woodland walks at Hughenden: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hughenden/documents/map-of-walks-around-hughenden.pdf
The internationally famous Grade I listed gardens at Cliveden near Maidenhead, once home to the illustrious Astor family, are liberally sprinkled with displays of delicate bluebells throughout the garden and surrounding woodlands, creating seas of blue in April. Look out for cowslips, snowy wood anemones and dog violets too. Downloadable woodland walks at Cliveden: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cliveden/lists/walking-at-cliveden
The magnificent ancient woodlands surrounding Basildon Park near Reading reveal a glorious bluebell bounty. Visitors can view the bluebells and other woodland gems such as lesser celandines and tiny dog violets at their very best on free guided walks every Friday at 11am. Downloadable woodland walks at Basildon Park: Parkland walks at Basildon Park: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/basildon-park/documents/parkland-walks-leaflet-.pdf
The beautiful beech woodlands that fringe Greys Court near Henley are also brimming with thousands of densely packed bluebells. Many springtime visitors stay within the boundaries of the gardens, but there are some delightful trails and a spectacular carpet of bluebells in the estate. Follow the waymarked route of Sir Felix’s Gentle Walks (1.2km) through the bluebell wood.
The ancient beech woodland at Bradenham Estate near West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire is a magnet for bluebell lovers in Spring. Park in the pretty brick and flint village clustered around a village green and head off into woods criss-crossed with footpaths and carpeted with bluebells in dappled glades. Downloadable walk through the woods: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chilterns-countryside/trails/bradenham-countryside-trail
Photo: Stephen Robson