6 great bluebell walks

Bluebells are one of our most beautiful native flowers, and are in flower during May here in the Lakes.  You’ll begin to spot the gorgeous blue or purple haze spreading like wildfire around our woodlands and hillsides. Here’s a few facts about the lovely blooms, thanks to our friends at Cumbria Wildlife Trust:

  • Britain hosts one third of all the bluebells in the world!
  • As its a little bit cooler up north, we tend to get our bloom a little bit later in the year, so early May onwards is perfect for enjoying ‘the blues’ …
  • Our insects love them and you’ll see butterflies and bees buzzing around collecting nectar from their heady scent.
  • There are three types of wild bluebell: the native or British bluebell, (Hyacinthoides non-scripta for those latin students amongst you) and the Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica), which is also found across much of Britain, and a hybrid.
  • The Spanish variety grows faster than our native bluebell, bringing with it a risk of cross-pollination which could endanger the British Bluebell.
  • The British bluebells are a very deep purple, whereas the Spanish are lighter in colour and sometimes are white or pink.
Image courtesy of Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

Get out and about and enjoy this carpet of nature,  but do treat them delicately as they are very crushable – so enjoying them from a distance, taking photos and leaving them intact for others to see is the perfect way to enjoy bluebells.

1.  Rannerdale, near Buttermere

Locally this is one of the most well-known site for bluebells.  The fell-sides carry a blue haze for a few gorgeous weeks in early May.  Folklore tells that this is the site of a battle where native Cumbrians and Norsemen ambushed and defeated Norman armies in the century after they came to Britain in 1066.

Enjoy an easy walk that gives you views of 3 lakes, returning via the shoreline to Crummock Water.  Please don’t wander through the blooms, but enjoy them from the path, as once they’re crushed, they start to die.

Image courtesy of the National Trust.

2.  Rydal and Grasmere

Simply drive along the A591 from Ambleside to Grasmere, and you’ll see them in the woodlands on either side of the road. Walks from White Moss Common Car park are the best places to start your bluebell amble. From here you can wander up onto Loughrigg Terrace and enjoy the views.

Image courtesy of Robert Harding.

3.  Grizedale Forest between Coniston and Lake Windermere

Perfect bluebell territory and also home to lots of trails and mountain bike routes.  A brilliant day out. 

Image courtesy of the Forestry Commission.

4. Muncaster Castle

Up in the north Lakes, Muncaster is a beautiful spot, where you’ll find the woodland above the castle swathed with the bluebells. Ruskin said that Muncaster was the ‘gateway to paradise’ and with its views across to the coast, and gorgeous gardens its easy to see why.

Image courtesy of Muncaster Castle.

5. South Lakes

There are some lovely spots where you can just view bluebells just from the roadside: If you drive up the Lakeside/ Newby Bridge road, alongside Lake Windermere, you’ll see lots of them and into Finsthwaite, Graythwaite and Rusland parishes around this area, and further on towards Hawkshead and Sawrey, along the shores of Esthwaite Water.

6.  Skelghyll Woods, Ambleside

Skelghyll Woods is just a short walk from Ambleside town centre. Its an inspiring ancient woodland is home to some of Britain’s tallest trees, including the tallest Grand Fir in England, and the tallest Douglas Fir in Cumbria. Managed by The National Trust look out for a Champion Tree trail here, and a chance explore these giants. Bluebells abound here, and there are plenty of spots for a picnic.

The dog friendly walk takes you through the woodland and up to Jenkins Crag, with fabulous views over Windermere. You can also wander through Stagshaw Gardens, with lots of azaleas, rhododendrons and spring blossoms to enjoy.

Image of Skelghyll Woods courtesy of thelakedistrict.org.

The last word goes to Emily Bronte:

The Bluebell is the sweetest flower
That waves in summer air:
Its blossoms have the mightiest power
To soothe my spirit’s care.’