Be dazzled by bluebells

Knapp and Papermill nature reserve - one of hundreds of Wildlife Trust bluebell woods (credit Paul Lane)

Every spring a carpet of blue quietly and steadily unfolds across the country.

Over the space of a few weeks in spring, from mid-April onwards, bluebells set our woodlands ablaze with their bright blue flowers.  The UK is home to more than half the world’s population of the bluebell, making it our unofficial national flower, and their presence is a sure sign you are in a very old woodland.  The Wildlife Trusts care for hundreds of the finest bluebell woods, that quintessential sign of the British spring.

Get down amongst the nodding flower heads and take a deep sniff 

Woodlands were once threatening places. Old folklore has it that bluebells would ring to summon fairies and goblins to their springtime gatherings. Walking through a carpet of bluebells was considered to be bad luck, disturbing the array of spells. This link to folklore can be seen in some of the old names for bluebells including wood bell, fairy flower and bell bottle.

How to do it

Do a little research in advance and find out where your nearest ancient woodland is. Below you can find a list of 100 Wildlife Trust woods, all free to enter and great places to see bluebells. Then pick a sunny day, when the dappled light will be at its best, and head into the woods.  And while you’re there, remember it’s not just about the colour.  The flowers have a distinctive if subtle sweet scent: get down amongst the nodding flower heads and take a deep sniff.  

If you can’t get to the special places listed below… In Scotland, the common bluebell is restricted to the lowlands.  In the highlands, a little later in the year, look for the ‘scottish bluebell’, the paler blue harebell.

100 special spots to see bluebells in the wild

When you think ‘bluebells,’ you automatically think ‘woodland’.  And yet one of the greatest displays of bluebells is found without a tree in sight.  In May, the island of Skomer, off the Pembrokeshire coast is a sea of blue, with splendid puffins nesting among the bluebells.

Argyll and Bute, Shian Wood

Avon, Prior’s Wood

Avon, Folly Farm

Bedfordshire, Landpark Wood

Berkshire, Bowdown Woods

Berkshire, Moor Copse

Birmingham, Moseley Bog

Birmingham, Hill Hook

Buckinghamshire, Dancersend

Buckinghamshire, Finemere Wood

Buckinghamshire, Rushbeds Wood

Cambridgeshire, Hayley Wood 

Cambridgeshire, Hardwick Wood

Cambridgeshire, Waresley and Gransden Woods

Cambridgeshire, Thorpe Wood

Cambridgeshire, Gamlingay Wood

Cambridgeshire, Brampton Wood

Cambridgeshire, Lady's Wood

Carmarthenshire, Dinefwr Castle Woods

Cheshire, Warburton’s Wood

Cheshire, Poors Wood

Cheshire, Pumphouse Wood

Cheshire, Marbury Reedbed

Cheshire, Owley Wood

Cheshire, Swettenham Meadows

Cheshire, Quinta 

Cumbria, Barkbooth Lot

Cumbria, Dorothy Farrer's Spring Wood

Devon, Emsworthy 

Devon, Andrew's Wood

Devon, Dunsford

Devon, Lady's Wood

Devon, New England Wood

Devon, Halsdon

Devon, Scanniclift Copse

Derbyshire, Mapperley Wood

Dorset, Hibbit Woods

Dorset, Powerstock Common

Dorset, Bracketts Coppice

Dorset, Ashley Wood

Dumfriesshire, Carstramon Wood

Durham, Baal Hill Wood 

Essex, Pound Wood

Essex, Weeleyhall Wood

Essex, Hanningfield Reservoir

Essex, Shut Heath Wood

Essex, Bedfords Park

Gloucestershire, Siccaridge Wood

Gloucestershire, Chosen Hill

Gloucestershire,  Lower Woods

Gwent, Prisk Wood 

Gwent, Croes Robert Wood

Hampshire, Roydon Woods

Herefordshire, Lea & Paget's Wood

Hertfordshire, Tewin Orchard and Hopkyns Wood

Hertfordshire, Gobions Wood

Hertfordshire, Old Park Wood

Isle of Wight, Eaglehead and Bloodstone Copse

Kent, Parsonage Wood

Lanarkshire, Cumbernauld Glen

Lancashire, Aughton Woods

Lancashire, Boilton Wood

Leicestershire, Prior's Coppice

Leicestershire, Launde Big Woods

Lincolnshire, Rigsby Wood

Lincolnshire, Dole Wood

Lincolnshire, Tortoiseshell Wood

London, Gutteridge Wood

London, Sydenham Hill Wood

Montgomeryshire, Coed Pendugwm  

Norfolk, Foxley Wood

Norfolk, Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe

Norfolk, Wayland Wood

Northern Ireland, Straidkilly 

Northern Ireland, Glenarm 

Northamptonshire, High Wood

Northamptonshire, Old Sulehay

Northamptonshire, Short Wood

Northumberland, Goose's Nest Bluebell Bank

Nottinghamshire, Bunny Wood

Nottinghamshire, Ploughman Wood

Oxfordshire, Foxholes 

Oxfordshire, Sydlings Copse

Radnorshire, Gilfach Nature Reserve

Rutland, Hambleton Woods

Sheffield, Moss Valley Woodlands

Shropshire, Earl’s Hill

Shropshire, The Ercall

Shropshire, Hope Valley

Somerset, Cheddar Complex

Somerset, Long Wood

Staffordshire, Parrot’s Drumble and George’s Hayes

Suffolk, Arger Fen

Suffolk, Bradfield Woods

Suffolk, Captain's Wood

Suffolk, Groton Wood

Suffolk, Reydon Wood

Surrey, Staffhurst Wood

Surrey, Chinthurst Hill

Surrey, Cucknells Wood

Sussex, Selwyn's Wood

Tees Valley, Saltburn Gill

Warwickshire, Wappenbury wood

Warwickshire, Hampton wood

Warwickshire, Ryton wood

Warwickshire, Clowes wood

Wiltshire, Hagbourne Copse

Wiltshire, Clouts Wood

Wiltshire, Blackmoor Copse

Worcestershire, Beaconwood and The Winsel

Worcestershire, Knapp & Papermill

Worcestershire, Chaddesley Woods

Worcestershire, Monkwood

Worcestershire,  Tiddesley Wood

Worcestershire, Trench Wood

Yorkshire, North Cliffe Wood

Yorkshire, Garbutt Wood

Yorkshire, Twentywellsick Wood

Yorkshire, Stoneycliffe Wood

Yorkshire,  Hetchell Wood

Bluebells © Neil Aldridge