Blickling Estate, Norfolk
The woodlands at Blickling are carefully managed through the winter months to ensure plenty of sunlight reaches the ground, producing a glorious show of bluebells in late April and early May across the Great Wood, under the towering plane trees and along Temple Walk. The estate stretches over 4,600 acres offering wonderful, dog-friendly walks, as well as cycle hire (including e-bikes and trailers), and fishing in the summer months. The nearby Buckinghamshire Arms is a cosy, 17th-century coaching inn offering classic pub dishes (bucksarms.co.uk).
Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire
It might sound unlikely, but this spectacular wooded landscape was once referred to as “Little Switzerland”, thanks to the steep-sided, lush valley, bisected by pathways, rivers and streams. In spring, the woodland floor is a carpet of vivid blue, with waymarked trails winding between the thousands of bluebells shimmering beneath the lush foliage, which make Hardcastle an Instagrammer’s dream. Visit in late April or early May, before the full woodland canopy has opened and there are still pockets of sunlight. Afterwards, head to nearby Hebden Bridge for lunch at the Old Gate, a buzzy bar and restaurant specialising in local seasonal produce (oldgatehebden.co.uk).
Glen Finglas, Stirlingshire
This vast estate combines imposing glens and mountains, glittering rivers and the Woodland Trust’s largest woods, with Scotland’s biggest collection of ancient trees rising up above a sea of bluebells during the spring months. Alongside the spectacular floral display, walkers have a good chance of spotting red deer, golden eagles and pine martens. The excellent visitor centre provides walking maps and information about the estate’s conservation work, while the nearby Brig o’ Turk tearoom offers home-cooked vegetarian and vegan dishes (brigoturktearoom.com).
Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
One of the most famous places in the UK to see and photograph bluebells, the Bluebell Wood at Clumber Park houses millions of bulbs beneath the soil, which grow closely together to create an intense sea of vivid blue. A three-mile trail runs through the ancient woodlands, beginning in Hardwick village and taking in 500-year-old oak trees and coppiced trees that form a natural arch above the bluebells. Pop into the Old School Tearooms, a short drive away, for spectacular afternoon teas, pre-bluebell breakfasts or hearty lunches out on the deck of this 1930s schoolhouse (theoldschooltearooms.com).
Coed Cefn, Crickhowell, near Abergavenny
Step into this ancient woodland any time up to mid-May and it will be abundantly obvious why locals simply call the area “the bluebell woods”. Beneath an imposing canopy of oak and beech, swathes of bluebells ripple through dappled shade and sunlight, encircling the Iron Age hill fort that lies at the heart of the wood. An easy circular walk and parking at the site makes it ideal for families, with the wonderfully named Latte-Da café (latte-da-tearoom.co.uk) an ideal spot for lunch or tea and cake, just five minutes’ drive away in Crickhowell.
Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
Until late May, the elegantly landscaped gardens at Sheffield Park are coloured with clouds of bluebells, carpeting the floor in the restored Walk Wood as well as illuminating the more formal gardens and the East Park (this is an ideal spot for dog-walkers, as pets are allowed off the lead). The historic estate is latticed with footpaths, some of which date back to the 1700s, that weave through hidden glens and around the four lakes that blaze with rhododendrons in late spring. Afterwards, head to the Griffin Inn at nearby Fletching, and bag a table in the garden, famous for its stunning views across what locals call the “Sussex Serengeti” (thegriffininn.co.uk).
Enys Gardens, Penryn, Cornwall
The 30 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens at Enys are thought to be the oldest in Cornwall, with a raft of different areas to explore, from the blossom-filled orchard and jade-green pinetum, to magnificent shimmering ponds and formal flower borders. The Parc Lye section is home to an extraordinary array of bluebells, celebrated in the Garden’s Bluebell Festival, which offers visitors the chance to see and photograph the spectacular show. Usually only open on Sundays and Mondays, the gardens open daily for the Bluebell Festival from 30 April until 8 May; afterwards pop into nearby Penryn for lunch with a glass of wine on the riverside terrace at the Muddy Beach café (muddybeach.com).
Frith Wood, Gloucestershire
An ancient beech wood that stretches across the ridge between the Painswick and Sled valleys, Frith explodes into life in spring, with drifts of vivid bluebells and white wild garlic flowers, along with rare plants, including white helleborine and yellow bird’s nest. Woodpeckers and jackdaws tap and swoop through the trees above, and the Laurie Lee Wildlife Way – a delightful, easy-going five-mile circular walk – runs through the reserve. Afterwards, reward yourself with luscious, homemade cakes at the aptly named Scrumptious Café in the nearby village of Chalford.
Hole Park Gardens, Kent
This wonderful, 16-acre garden was created by four generations of the Barham family, and the bluebells at Hole Park are so spectacular that the gardens’ website has what it calls a “Bluebell Barometer”, to show when the flowers are at their most prolific. Alongside the seas of blue, the garden blazes with hot pinks and purples in spring, with wisteria, camellias and magnolias all in bloom. Beyond the formal gardens, the estate is set in 200 acres of parkland, ideal for energetic youngsters and dog-walkers. Hole Park’s tea room does an excellent line in ploughman’s and cream teas, all washed down with local Kentish apple juice.
Green Castle Woods, Carmarthenshire
A mix of ancient and newly created woodland, wetlands and wildflower meadows, the 125 acres of Green Castle Woods are among the very best places in Wales for walks through the bluebells that ripple out beneath the lush tree canopy, studded with bright white wood anemones. Beyond the trees there are wonderful views towards Carmarthen and the Tywi Valley, and the carefully maintained hedgerows are rich in an amazingly diverse range of wildlife; look out for small lizards and butterflies, and listen for the calls of the barn and tawny owls as dusk begins to fall. Reward yourself for your walk with lunch at Dexters in Carmarthen, a cosy steakhouse and grill with delicious veggie options (dexterswales.co.uk).