Bluebell woods in Hertfordshire
With each year that passes, I find there are certain events in the British calendar which start to grow a bit stale. The culmination of the Premier League Football season for example, or the build up to Christmas… no doubt you have your own mental list. However, the appearance of bluebells in Hertfordshire woodlands each spring has yet to lose its appeal.
After years of living in big cities, I moved to a village in Hertfordshire several years ago. Each spring I really enjoy seeing the bluebells appear: a sign the summer isn’t far off. There are certain local bluebell woods which I like to wander through each year while there are other woods which I only visit occasionally. One of my favourites is the Ashridge Estate bluebell woods: this is a particularly well known and impressive display. We also love the bluebell woods at Mardley Heath near Welwyn, a great spot for imaginary play and bike rides.
There are pockets of bluebell woods all over Herts so no doubt I have missed plenty from this list. Feel free to leave me a message in the comments at the end if there’s a bluebell walk in Hertfordshire which you think I should add.
When do bluebells come out?
So, when is the best time to see bluebells in the British countryside? Well, the end of April and the start of May are pretty reliable for bluebell displays. Some years the blooms can be enjoyed in early April but a particularly cold winter (such as the one we had in 2018) can delay the flowers. If you do not live near a bluebell wood and you are planning to make a special journey to see bluebells, I would recommend going in late April as this should allow for any irregular weather patterns.
Hertfordshire bluebell walks near London
If you live in London and you’re looking for the best bluebell woods near London, many of these Hertfordshire walks are accessible by train from London in under an hour. If you’d like a full day out, I’d recommend Panshanger Woods in Hertford or Bramfield Woods in Watton at Stone as they both offer an extensive walk as well as bluebells, in fact they’re lovely at any time of year. Both can be reached in about 40 minutes from Finsbury Park and are around a mile from the railway station.
The best bluebell woods in Hertfordshire
Ashridge Estate, near Berkhamsted
Perhaps the most well known stretch of bluebells in Hertfordshire, the National Trust’s Ashridge Estate is a fantastic outdoor space. There are woodlands and meadows, plenty of wildlife plus a monument to climb and a cafe to refuel in. We visited Ashridge Estate in mid April several years ago, it must have been a mild winter as the bluebells were already in full bloom.
Whippendell Wood, Watford
If a walk amid bluebells sounds a bit tame, the Watford 10k race is known as the “bluebell run”. It takes in lovely Cassiobury Park (which features avenues of chestnut trees, a play area, cafe and bandstand) as well as the ancient woodland of Whippendell which will be carpeted with bluebells when the race takes place on the May Day bank holiday. Watford Junction is just 15 minutes train ride from London Euston so if you’re looking for bluebells near London, this is very accessible.
Heartwood Forest, near St Albans
Part newly planted forest, part ancient woodland, Heartwood is a work in progress landscape which I’m keen to visit. There is plenty to keep kids interested including marked trails for little legs, a natural playground and den building areas.
Post Wood, Ware
This little wood is really fun to explore. It’s quite hilly so if you’re bringing a buggy you’ll get a work out pushing it up and down the steep slopes. Our kids love Post Wood: there are lots of trees to climb and fallen trunks to walk along and there are tons of squirrels. Easily accessible from Ware train station, this is a great location if you want a car-free bluebell fix. Ware itself has a great selection of eateries to recharge in after your walk.
Ware is under an hour from London Liverpool Street so it’s a great option if you’re looking for bluebell walks near London.
Panshanger Woods, Hertford
This was our first bluebell success story after moving to Hertfordshire and we return in all seasons as it’s such a great place to bring the children: bluebells, den building, an easy circular walk for youngsters and excellent blackberries come summer.
This is another great option for Londoners looking for bluebells near London. Panshanger Woods is a mile from Hertford North train station which has a regular service into London taking around 40 minutes to Finsbury Park. There are no facilities at Panshanger, so make sure you use the loos at the train station! Panshanger is a huge park with a nature reserve, river, lakes and vast open meadows so it’s a lovely day out. Bring a picnic or head into Hertford for a meal: there are lots of great eateries in the town centre.
Sherrardspark Wood, Welwyn Garden City
This is a particularly large woodland to get lost in, despite its location within walking distance of Welwyn Garden City town centre. Like Post Wood in Ware and Panshanger in Hertford, this is a good option if you’re after a car-free bluebell day trip.
Pryors Wood, Stevenage
Stevenage gets a bad rap but it has hidden gems of brilliance. We love the town’s museum and I’m looking forward to escaping the endless roundabouts and soulless shopping centres for a stroll amid the bluebells at this lovely sounding nature reserve.
Mardley Heath, near Welwyn Garden City
We’ve visited this wonderful woodland in autumn and winter but we’ve yet to visit in spring. The forest floor at Mardley Heath had pockets of green shoots when we wandered through it in February so I have high hopes for a brilliant display in April and May.
Tewin Orchard, near Welwyn Garden City
I’ve earmarked Tewin Orchard as a place to bring my boys when they’re a bit older to spy on badgers from the purpose built badger hides. At the moment the kids are too noisy for badgers to dare come close, so we’ll stick to the impressive bluebells in spring and the apple festival at the end of summer.
Gobions Woods, near Potters Bar
This sounds like a really interesting spot with ponds, a canal network and meadows as well as a bluebell wood which has a one mile waymarked trail running through it. Brookmans Park train station is a 20 minute walk from the woods.
This is a great spot for cycling or horse riding and it’s buggy-friendly too. There are pathways running from Watton at Stone to Datchworth and Bramfield, each village has some good pubs if you need a pit stop. Otherwise, picnic amid the beautiful bluebells.
Watton at Stone is around 45 minutes from Finsbury Park so it’s an easy day trip if you’re looking for bluebell walks near London.
More family-friendly walks in Hertfordshire
Where do you recommend going to see bluebells in Hertfordshire? If you have a favourite bluebell wood, let me know in the comments below.
Need refreshments? I’ve put together an extensive list of tried and tested pubs in Hertfordshire which are great for families.
Looking for fun days out in Hertfordshire? I’ve written a guide to the best places to visit in Hertfordshire.
Looking for other ways to get outside in the UK? I’ve written about the best sculpture parks and sculpture trails in the UK which covers some brilliant outdoor art, perfect for families who want to get their kids engaged with art.
If you’re driving in the UK, make sure you take a look at my post about family-friendly places to stop just off the motorway. It covers everything from play areas to picnic spots, castles to nature reserves.