I am ridiculously excited that Bluebell season is nearly upon us. The season only lasts six weeks so you need to be quick if you are longing to see (and smell) that wonderful blue haze of bluebells.
They normally start to flower between mid-April and May but it’s always best to check ahead of your visit as it can vary every year. Bluebells are usually found in ancient woodlands and therefore can form part of a great Springtime family day out walking and cycling.
Below I have pulled together my Top 10 best places to see bluebells with children. To make it onto my coveted list there had to be more than ‘just‘ bluebells (such as cycle paths, picnic spots, farms, etc.) in case the kids aren’t as interested in seeing the bluebells as much as you had hoped. If you are looking for bluebells plus a playground then the National Trust is always a good bet.
1. Arlington Bluebell Walk, Sussex
The Arlington Bluebell Walk in Sussex has a series of seven winding walks through woodlands and across three working farms (one of which is suitable for wheelchair users and therefore prams). The opportunity to combine seeing bluebells and animals makes this the ultimate bluebell day out with kids. Also, one of the working farms, Packwood, allows visitors to watch the cows being milked from a specially designed viewing platform (open daily between 3pm and 5pm).
Open: 8th April to 14th May from 10am to 5pm (2017 dates)
Cost: Adults £6, child £2.50 and a family (2 adults and up to 4 children) £15
2. Ashridge Estate (National Trust), near Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire
Two thousand hectares of ancient woodlands, rolling chalk downlands and lush meadows have made Ashridge Estate famous for its carpet of bluebells for many years. The estate is owned by the National Trust and during bluebell season they run regular ranger-led walks which you need to book in advance.
Open: Every day from dawn until dusk
Cost: Free (ranger-led guided walks are extra)
3. Blicking Hall (National Trust), Blickling, Norfolk
Blicking Hall was the birthplace of Anne Boleyn and consists of 950 acres of woodland and parkland. The bluebells can be found in both the Great Wood and also in the formal gardens where over 3000 bulbs were planted. And if they become bored with the bluebells there are lots of secret places for the kids to discover such as a secret garden, secret tunnels and even a hidden picnic area.
Open: 10.00am to 5.30pm
Cost: Adult £8.10, child £4.50 and a family £23.60. Free for National Trust members
4. Winkworth Arboretum (National Trust), Godalming, Surrey
Winkworth Arboretum has an incredible collection of 1000 shrubs and trees which is overrun with bluebells during Spring. For the best views follow the Spring Walk and head directly into Bluebell Wood where the most spectacular swathes are to be found. This walk also takes you through Magnolia Wood, which – if you are lucky – may be in bloom at the same time.
Open: Every day 10am to 6pm
Cost: Adult £7.60, child £3.80 and a family £19.00. Free for National Trust members
5. Hinton Ampner (National Trust), Alresford, Hampshire
An elegant country manor and tranquil garden with views over the South Downs. This much loved National Trust garden was specifically designed to be full of scent and colour all year round so there is never a bad time to go. The bluebells can be found within the acres of ancient woodlands. Hinton Ampner is a particularly good place to enjoy a picnic as they have created wonderful woodland ‘sofas’ which have been carved out of fallen tree trunks to sit on and admire the view, whilst eating Pom-Bears.
Open: Every day from 10am to 5pm
Cost: Adult £9.50, child £4.75 and a family £23.17. Free for National Trust members
6. Coed Cefn (Woodland Trust), Chrickhowell, Powys
One of Wales’ best display of Bluebells can be found at Coed Cefn. The ancient oak-and-beech-dominated woodland even has its very own Iron Age hilltop fort.
Open: Every day
7. Clumber Park (National Trust), Nottinghamshire
Clumber Park is an ideal location to escape for the day with its magnificent lake, tranquil gardens and ancient woodlands which are covered in bluebells in Springtime. The 4000 acre park also boasts a newly refurbished restaurant which uses ingredients from the walled kitchen garden, plus there are over 20km of cycle paths to explore. Bikes can be hired from Clumber Park’s cycle hire centre. There is also a Gothic-style chapel to discover.
Open: Every day 10am to 5pm (6pm at weekends)
Cost: Adults £3.50, child £1.75, and a family £8.75 (free to National Trust members)
8. Hackfall Woods, near Ripon, Yorkshire
The beautiful woods at Hackfall were carefully landscaped in the 18th century, creating grottoes, waterfalls, fountains, surprise views and follies. Amongst this famous woodland, there are thousands of bluebells just waiting to be admired. Whilst it’s a beautiful spot, it’s worth mentioning that there are no toilet facilities.
Open: Every day
9. Lanhydrock (National Trust), Bodmin, Cornwall
Lanhydrock Estate covers 1000 acres, with parkland, ancient woods and riverside paths teeming with bluebells. There are also several off-road cycle trails, with special routes for families and novice riders. Bikes can be hired from the cycle hire centre plus there is also an adventure playground and a cafe. Lanhydrock also offer a three hour bluebell and lunch tour that needs to pre-booked.
Open: Every day 10am to 5.30pm
Cost: Adult £8.25, child £4.10. Free for National Trust Members
10. Hardcastle Crags, Yorkshire
Hardcastle Crags is a beautiful spot in the South Pennines consisting of more than 160 hectares of unspoilt woodland. Expect to find tumbling streams and waterfalls nestling amongst 24km of footpaths. The bluebells are at their peak in May forming an incredible blue haze through the woodlands. After taking in the delights of the bluebells don’t forget to visit Gibson Mill, a 19th-century cotton mill, which has been converted into a family-friendly visitor centre complete with interactive displays, dressing up, dancing and exhibitions.
Open: Every day, dawn to dusk
Other noteworthy contenders:
Whilst Kew Gardens didn’t make the Top 10, it is probably the capital’s best bluebell collection. The bluebells can be found in the woodland behind Queen Anne’s Cottage.
Open: 10.00am to 5.30pm
Cost: £15.50 for adults, child £2.50 (4-16 years old)
Over to you
Have you been to any of these bluebell woods? What did you think? Have you found any great places to see bluebells recently that you would like to share?