Britain has between 25% and 50% of the world’s bluebell population, and anticipation is high for a bumper season if the particularly healthy daffodil season is anything to go by. Positive indicators are the earlier cold weather, which had the effect of holding spring flowering in a state of suspended animation, and last year’s heavy rain, which had the beneficial effect of fattening bulbs. The National Trust has highlighted the best places to see woodland carpeted in the deep blue of these protected wild flowers.
The Trust recommends Ashridge, Hertfordshire (01494 755557), a 1½ mile woodland trail; Rookery Wood, Attingham Park, Shropshire (01743 708162); the fivemile estate walk through the Great Wood at Blickling, Norfolk (01263 738030); estate walks at Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire (01558 824512) and Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey (01483 208477), plus, in Northern Ireland, the Lake Walk at Mount Stewart (028–4278 8387). In the North, there’s Stocktons Wood at Speke Hall, Merseyside (0151–427 7231) and Hardcastle Crags, a wooded valley near Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire (01422 844518).
In the South-West, wander around the ancient hill fort at Lamberts Castle, west Dorset (01297 561900), and the Great Wood at Landydrock, Cornwall (01208 265950). For more ideas and details, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/walks. The Woodland Trust is also listing the most spectacular bluebell woods (www.woodlandtrust.org.uk).