With each year that passes, I find there are certain events in the British calendar which are starting to grow a bit stale. The culmination of the Premier League Football season for example, the build up to Christmas… no doubt you have your own mental list. However, the appearance of bluebells in our local Hertfordshire woodlands each spring has yet to lose its appeal.
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 with the particularly cold winter we have experienced in 2018, I would expect the bluebells this year to peak at the beginning of May and continue to look impressive for several weeks. What follows are some of our favourite bluebell patches in Hertfordshire along with others we’re hoping to visit this year.
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.
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
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.
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.
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, 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.
Perrywood Lane woods, Watton at Stone
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 each village has some good pubs if you need a pit stop. Otherwise, picnic amid the beautiful bluebells.
More family-friendly walks in Hertfordshire:
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.