One of the joys of a Spring walk is finding a bluebell wood – the contrast between the hazy light blue carpet of bells set against bright green fresh foliage of emerging ferns and grass is a very British natural wonder and North Devon has a few choice places to lose yourself in bluebell heaven….
Over 50% of the world’s bluebells grow in Britain and North Devon is a particularly unspoiled part of the country to find them in. Take any walk along the South West Coast Path in the next few weeks and you will be sure to find some of these stunners.
Borough Woods, leading inland from Lee Bay near Ilfracombe is a spectacular ancient woodland which is cloaked in bluebells throughout the spring months. This is National Trust owned land and there is a lovely circular walk from Mortehoe, out along the coast (look out for seals between Rockham Beach and Bull Point Lighthouse), passing the Grampus Inn in Lee Bay for refreshments and back through Borough Woods and up, up, up to green fields full of sheep and lambs and the return via Damage Barton medieval settlement to Mortehoe.
Our absolute favourite bluebell wood is Brownsham Woods, on the Hartland Peninsula where you will find swathes and swathes of bluebells. Park in the National Trust carpark and it’s only a few short steps into the wood to find your first carpet of dancing bluebells. It would be a pity not to wander further – we’ve got OS maps for you to borrow and you can download National Trust guided walks OR borrow laminated walks from our information room. If you wander over Windbury Hill, look out for the Exmoor Ponies brought in to keep this common land grazed to maximise the wildflower, insect and bird population.
For a combination of history, horticulture and bluebells, head to Hartland Abbey for their annual Bluebell Sunday open day on 23rd April – the house, stunning gardens and bluebell filled grounds will be open to explore. This is a very special place to visit in a charming valley just below the village of Stoke on the Hartland Peninsula …fast becoming a regular filming location and the tucked away base for Prince William’s stag-do to boot! Take a look and you’ll appreciate why it is so popular.
Closer to home, we have a beautiful display of bluebells emerging in our own wood at Robin Hill Farm. Wander along the woodland track and be guided by the aroma of wild garlic, bluebells line Jennetts Stream and look so pretty in the dappled sunlight.
Not in North Devon this spring (shame!)? The Woodland Trust is running The Big Bluebell Watch – an on-line survey to record the health of Britain’s bluebell woods. Here you can contribute by recordings your sightings as well as looking for inspiration of bluebells already recorded near you to enjoy before they disappear at the end of May.