Native British Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) can carpet a woodland. Their delicate appearance and vivid colour are unmistakeable, however must not be confused with Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica). The dainty flowers are native to western Europe and the UK is a species stronghold. They’re associated with ancient woodland and are often used, in combination with other species, as a clue that a wood has been around for centuries, but can also be found in fields and hedgerows. The difference between Spanish and English bluebells is how the bells grow. The Spanish bell grows upright with the flowers all along the stem. In contrast, the British flower droops to one side. There is also a hybrid species (Hyacinthoides x massartiana) which is similar to the British bluebell but can threaten their existence.
There are many places where they grow but here is a selection of woodlands and walks where they are pretty much guaranteed – map at bottom of page! Alternatively, just search for bluebells in the search bar.
Abbott Street Copse – Pamphill Walk – The forest is shared with a Roman Road that once linked Babury Rings to the Roman Fort at Lake Hill
Ashmore Wood – Wessex Ridgeway part 1 – Neighbouring the highest village in the county, this large woodland sits on the edge of the ancient hunting ground of Cranborne Chase.
Ashley Wood – Tarrant Keyneston walk – Another woodland in the Cranborne case, this time neighbouring the hill fort of Buzbury.
Bulbarrow – Ibberton Walk – The hilltop can have a number of patches of bluebells, in the same location as the oldest tree in Dorset. Just off the route is Delacombe Woods, another bluebell filled woodland.
Charmouth Forest – Charmouth Forest Walk – Hidden down little lanes, this is a beauty of a bluebell forest (one of my favourites!)
Coney’s Castle – Coney’s and Lambert’s Walk – The bluebells can not only be found in the woodland here but are also kown to carpet the valley of Fishpond’s Bottom.
East Stoke and Cole Wood – Wool Walk – The nature reserve of East Stoke Fen, sitting on the banks of the River Frome, as well as the forest of Cole Wood supports a large population of Bluebells.
Eype Down – Eype Walk – Hidden from the coastline by the towering Thorncombe Beacon.
Gussage Down – Gussage Down Walk – the bluebells line the old Roman Road as its cuts through an ancient settlement.
Holway Woods – Sanford Orcas Walk – Hidden in the depths of North West Dorset, the little nature reserve sits on the slopes, looking down on the the sandstone village and Manor House of Sandford Orcas.
Hooke – Hooke Walk – Near the source of the River Hooke and a manor whose gardens were excavated by Time Team.
Langdon Hill – Golden Cap Walk – Placed near the peak of the highest point on the southern coastline, between the villages of Chideock and Morcombelake.
Lewesdon Hill – Lewesdon Hill Walk – The highest point in Dorset, this Hillfort is famous for its carpet of Bluebells.
Milton Abbey Park – Winterborne Stickland – This large woodland was once part of the landscape design of Milton Abbey.
Mistleberry Woods – Mistleberry Walk – In the company of ancient earthworks and an overgrown landscape design in Cranborne Chase on the Dorset border with Wiltshire
Powerstock Forest – Powerstock Forest Walk – Running alongside a dismantled railway, this nature reserve contains a mixture of species, all managed by a herd of Exmoor Ponies.
Thorncombe Woods – Yellowham Walk – The childhood home of Thomas Hardy, the forest is also scarred by a Roman Road and a number of ancient burial mounds.
Tincleton – Athelhampton Walk – Placed on a high ridge dividing the River Piddle from the River Frome.
Some other locations where walks run nearby include Duncliffe Woods, Near Stour Row, Fifehead Wood, near Fifehead Magdalen and Hibbitts Wood, near Halstock.