Get us in your inbox

Roseberry Topping
Photograph: Shutterstock

13 of the best places to see bluebells across the UK

From flower-festooned hillsides to magical woodlands, here’s where to see beautiful bluebells in the UK

Written by
Alexandra Sims
Advertising

For a few short weeks every spring, carpets of cobalt bluebells are one of the UK’s most arresting natural phenomenons. In fact, almost half of the world’s bluebells are here in the UK – meaning that between April and May, when the elusive native bluebell comes out to play, there are plenty of beautiful spots to catch a glimpse of them right on our doorstep.

Now that day trips and overnight stays in self-catered accommodation (including Airbnbs and campsites) are allowed again, we can finally leave our homes and get out to explore the woodlands across the country where these pockets of blue like to bloom. 

From pretty Victorian estates in Cornwall and flower-festooned peaks in Yorkshire to magical forests in the Scottish Highlands and cliffside crops of colourful flowers in Wales, here are the best places in the UK to see the delicate blue blooms. Remember, these native flowers are a protected species – so no picking!

Please note: Travel restrictions in Wales and Scotland may differ from those in England. Facilities and businesses in the towns and villages we mention will be closed at the moment. Government advice is to avoid public transport so don’t travel by train or bus. Please be mindful of the people who live locally. If you decide to travel, check whether car parks are open before you set off and adhere to social distancing guidelines on your visit.

RECOMMENDED: The best places to see wildflowers in the UK

Where to see bluebells in the UK

Isabella Plantation, London
Photograph: Laura Nolte/Flickr

Isabella Plantation, London

While Richmond Park’s roads can get clogged up with lines of 4x4s, the park’s traffic-free woodland garden, Isabella Plantation, is a real oasis. Established during the 1950s, the ornamental woodland garden is full of leafy clearings, ponds and streams and planted with ferns, exotic trees and shrubs. It’s particularly striking when the Bluebell Walk comes to life alongside colourful crops of rhododendrons and magnolias.

Highgate Woods, London
Photograph: Shutterstock

Highgate Woods, London

In 1916 the Natural History Society said bluebells were almost extinct in this ancient wood. But it turns out they weren’t giving up without a fight; today they carpet it in a deep blue mass. Enter through the Cranley Gate or Bridge Gate at the north corner of the park to admire the blue blooms before heading down one of the winding trails beneath the hornbeams. You’ll soon forget you’re still in Zone 3 of the metropolis.

Advertising
Blickling Estate, Norfolk
Photograph: Shutterstock

Blickling Estate, Norfolk

There are three top spots to see bluebells in the parkland of this bombastic Jacobean mansion. Explore the ancient Great Wood, famous for its jaw-slackening swathes of blue; head to the plane trees in the formal gardens where clusters of the flowers grow, framed by sweeping views of the house and the lake; or stroll down the elegant Temple Walk where, in the 1930s, thousands of bluebell bulbs were taken from the Great Wood and planted along the path.

Clent Hills, Worcestershire
Photograph: Shutterstock

Clent Hills, Worcestershire

This scenic set of hills in the West Midlands, with stunning panoramas over the Cotswolds, Shropshire Hills and Welsh borders, has plenty of top spots to see bluebells. The valley behind the historic monument, the Four Stones, is covered in them come April, as is the aptly named Bluebell Valley near the Nimmings Wood car park. Walton Hill is off the beaten track, but if you do manage to get to it you’ll find open grassland packed with bluebell patches.

Advertising
Buckland Abbey, Devon
Photograph: Shutterstock

Buckland Abbey, Devon

Built 700 years ago by Cistercian monks, this ancient abbey in Devon’s Tavy Valley is now a museum and house filled with treasures linked to Francis Drake and Rembrandt. But it’s out in the Great North Wood where you’ll find the real riches. Swathes of sapphire blue blooms pop up beneath the trees every spring and there’s intriguing folklore surrounding them. Locals who frequented the woods back in the monks’ time believed that if you could turn a bluebell inside out without tearing it, you would find your true love. Please don’t test it for yourself – it’s strictly no picking.

Lanhydrock Estate, Cornwall
Photograph: Shutterstock

Lanhydrock Estate, Cornwall

If you go down to the woods on this Cornish country estate, you’re in for a blue surprise. The ancient Great Wood here is filled with bluebells as soon as spring arrives. Hire a bike and ride along the Victorian estate’s famous off-road cycle trails to take in the full crop.

Advertising
Roseberry Topping, Yorkshire
Photograph: Shutterstock

Roseberry Topping, Yorkshire

The North York Moors have a lot of rolling green hills, but you can’t miss Roseberry Topping. Sometimes known as Yorkshire’s Matterhorn, it’s spottable a mile off thanks to its distinctive half-cone shape and jagged cliff edge. Come spring, a purple haze of thousands of bluebells coats the undulating ground rolling down from the peak. If you’re looking for the picture-perfect spot, this is it.

Muncaster Castle and Gardens, Cumbria
Photograph: whitelance100/Flickr

Muncaster Castle and Gardens, Cumbria

John Ruskin, the big-dog art critic of the Victorian era, once named the view across the gardens of this thirteenth-century castle the ‘Gateway to Paradise’ – and in the spring it’s not hard to see why. The grassy verges leading up to the ancient stone pile sprout with bluebells in the spring, while the high woodlands on the castle’s 77 acres of ground become a sea of purple-blue.

Advertising
Urquhart Bay Woods, Scotland
Photograph: Matthew Slowe/Pixabay

Urquhart Bay Woods, Scotland

Squeezed between the Enrick and Coiltie rivers, the whole of this woodland gets completely flooded after heavy rain. It’s one of the best examples of surviving ancient wet woodland in Europe and the soggy ground makes an excellent home for bluebells, which carpet the ground in spring. If the waters are low (and you’re feeling brave enough) you can cross the Coiltie to get to Loch Ness.

Fairy Glen Falls, Scotland
Photograph: Shutterstock

Fairy Glen Falls, Scotland

The Black Isle – a sea-scuffed peninsula deep in the Scottish Highlands – is a fairytale place. Not only is it surrounded by dolphins, lined with pink-tinged beaches and peppered with mysterious Clootie Wells where people hang up rags as part of an ancient Celtic tradition, it’s even home to a Fairy Glen. Hidden away in a pretty woodland filled with rickety wooden bridges, riverside paths and leafy glades, you’ll find the twin waterfalls with water trickling down in a glittering plunge pool. Look out for bluebells that sprout up around them along with primrose, wood sorrel and anemone.

Advertising
Coed Cefn, Wales
Photograph: Shutterstock

Coed Cefn, Wales

As soon as spring hits, thousands of drooping blue beauties take over this enchanting woodland in Wales’ Brecon Beacons. Perched on a hill above the friendly town of Crickhowell, this ancient wood has a canopy of oak and beech trees and a lovely circular walk with views over the Welsh hills. It’s said that if you pick a bluebell, you’ll be led astray by fairies and will wander lost forever. You may also be fined up to £5,000, so keep those hands to yourself.

Penderi Cliffs, Wales
Photograph: Jaxbartram/Pixabay

Penderi Cliffs, Wales

The sea isn’t the only stretch of blue you’ll find at this pretty coastal spot. In spring, hundreds of bluebells bloom in the oak woodland that clings to the mile-long stretch of cliff between Llanrhystud and Monk’s Cave. Not only is it a unique sight, it’s also a nature reserve: look out for buzzards, kestrels, and peregrines circling above the sandy coves. You might even see young grey seals, which are occasionally born at the reserve in the spring.

Advertising
Downhill Demesne, Northern Ireland
Photograph: Derek Lynn/Unsplash

Downhill Demesne, Northern Ireland

There’s a haunting beauty to Downhill Demesne, where the ruins of an eighteenth-century mansion lie on a rugged headland looking out onto the North Sea. Once you’ve strolled along the magnificent clifftop walks and explored the sandy beach below, head to the gardens, which (unlike the dilapidated mansion) are full of life. Every spring, snowdrops give way to daffodils which eventually die back to reveal swathes of bluebells. You can see even more in the woodlands behind.

Planning a UK day trip? Here’s what you need to know

Recommended

    More on getaways

      You may also like
        Advertising