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Bluebell bonanza

Nature's rolling out the blue carpet! The bluebells are breaking cover and here's where to see the best of them in Somerset, Dorset and Bristol

What’s a sure sign that it’s finally Spring? Retiring your thermals, yes. But more excitingly it’s the arrival of bluebell season. We’re so lucky to have so many beautiful bluebell woods in Dorset and Somerset. Here’s where to find the pick (but please don’t, they’re protected) of the little blue fellas near you.

SOMERSET

Goblin Combe, near Cleeve

Worth a visit for the name alone. Grasslands above and woodlands below (where you’ll find those blue flowers) in a limestone gorge. Great views across the Mendips too at this Avon Wildlife Trust reserve.

Long Wood, Cheddar

Ancient bluebell wood once owned by the mediaeval Witham Priory now under the custodianship of the Somerset Wildlife Trust,  with an easy trail with stunning bluebells, orchids, anemones, wild garlic and a little stream.

Brockholes, along the South West Coast path, Exmoor

Six miles of rugged track and footpath (some narrow and exposed – eek) but it’s worth holding your nerve for amazing views across the Bristol Channel to the Brecon Beacons in Wales and the three valleys filled with bluebells and other flowers in amongst the gorse. And the brockholes? Ancient quarries.

Ladies Walk, Montacute

A short, semi-circular walk from a pathway alongside the village school, up through a hillside beech wood thronged with bluebells – you can just see the village and Elizabethan Montacute House through the trees – before heading down through a lane cutting deep through the hamstone back into Montacute.

King’s Castle Wood, near Wells

Combine bluebells and history – this Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserve is on the site of an Iron Age hill fort, just a mile away from the centre of Wells – with views across to Glastonbury Tor and the Somerset Levels.

Thurlbear Woods, near Taunton

With its incredible variety of flowers, fungi and wildlife in an ancient woodland  you won’t be surprised to discover this is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Secret glades, foot paths and a rookery, all there to discover.

Aller and Beer Woods, near Langport

One of the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves, this ancient woodland along the western slope of Aller Hill is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), with oak and ash trees, wood-peckers, the odd deer, the rare star-shaped earthstar fungi  as well as all those bluebells.

Greyfield Wood, near High Littleton

Once part of the Earl of Warwick’s hunting estate, then mined for coal, Greyfield Wood is one of Somerset’s largest ancient woodlands (now owned by the Woodland Trust) and a wonderful place to visit, with all kinds of wildlife (from voles to wild deer), a cascading waterfall – and fab bluebells. Take the footpath running south from the Greyfield Road out of High Littleton, about 10 miles from Bath.

RSPB Swell Wood, Fivehead, between Taunton and Langport

As well as bluebells, you might also see nesting grey herons and little egrets (aaawww) in this part ancient woodland part abandoned oak plantation stretching 10 miles from Langport to the Blackdown Hills.  Over 100 pairs of birds come to breed between March and June making it one of the largest colonies in the south west.  Swell Wood is about 11 miles from Taunton, off the A378 between the villages of Fivehead and Curry Rivel.

Leigh Woods, Clifton, Bristol

Winding trails through bluebell woods with spectacular views of Brunel’s famous Clifton Suspension Bridge and the city through gaps in the trees. It being owned by the National Trust, there are picnic tables, a compostable loo and a downloadable family trail with kids play stuff along the route.

DORSET

Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne

Four woodland trails around the estate of this Italianate mansion take in the best bluebells, including Abbot Street Copse in Pamphill, which was planted with new trees a few years ago to conserve the important woodland.

Duncliffe Wood, Stour Row, nr Shaftesbury

Just three miles outside Shaftesbury, this huge Woodland Trust wood and (Site of Nature Conservation Interest) is famed for the bluebells on its steep slopes. The ancient wood appears in the Domesday Book, was once owned by Eton College and is said to have inspired Thomas Hardy’s The Woodlanders.

Colmer’s Hill, Symondsbury, nr Bridport

Climb up the iconic hill on the Symondsbury Estate for gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside – West Dorset, East Devon and the sea – from the top and bluebells growing along the way.

Fifehead Wood, Fifehead Magdalen, nr Gillingham

Another Woodland Trust site, with buzzards and woodpeckers to watch out for as well as the bluebells.

Champernhayes Woods, Wootton Fitzpaine, nr Lyme Regis

Also known, confusingly as Charmouth Forest and Wootton Hill, the bluebells grow in amongst the beech trees in the lower section of the woods. Take the circular walk and you’ll be rewarded with views of the sea.

Bulbarrow Hill, Woolland, nr Blandford Forum

Walk to the top of this chalk hill – one of the highest points in Dorset – for the bluebells and fab views across the Blackmore Vale and beyond to Somerset Wilts and Devon.

Have we missed any out?

Please let us know in the comments if there are any omissions!

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