INTO THE (BLUEBELL) WOODS
Sweet-scented bluebells have already started to unfurl this year creating one of the great spring spectacles. My family and I ventured into our local ancient woodlands, Cawston Woods, in Rugby twice over half term where the ground was covered in a carpet of brilliant blue. I’ve drawn up a list of some of Warwickshire’s loveliest bluebell woods with the very kind assistance of Steven Cheshire of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, which manages many of the county’s beautiful woodlands, so hope I haven’t made any glaring omissions. If I have, please do share your favourites in the comments below. (Btw Warwickshire Wildlife Trust should be featured quite heavily on BBC 1’s Countryfile on Sun April 30, so keep an eye out!)
9 of the most incredible bluebell woodland walks in Warks:
Coughton Court (nr Alcester)
Managed by the National Trust, Coughton Court the home of the Throckmorton family, is an imposing Tudor house set in beautiful gardens. The best spot to walk among the bluebells is at Timm’s Grove from late April to mid-May. Simply follow Coughton Court’s Family Walk across the River Arrow in the ancient woodlands. In its entirety, it’s an easy half hour 1mile walk. You’ll be rewarded by a sea of shimmering bluebells.
Crackley Woods, Kenilworth
A popular nature reserve managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust where you can enjoy the spectacular blanket of bluebells dotted with delicate wood anemone, yellow pimpernel and common dog-violet.
Cubbington Woods, (nr Weston-under-Wetherley)
The highlight in spring is the stunning carpet of wood anemones and bluebells in South Cubbington Wood. Sadly, this fantastic woodland is under serious threat by HS2, including its famous 250-year-old old Pear Tree which could be in blossom for the very last time this spring if work starts soon so do go and see it! It came 8th in the European Tree of the Year in 2015 and was England’s Tree of the Year. https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blogs/woodland-trust/2015/11/tree-of-the-year-winners/
Hampton Wood & Meadow, (Hampton Lucy, nr Warwick)
An ancient woodland and meadow running along the River Avon, also managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, and boasting a beautiful carpet of wild flowers in spring. The reserve is deservedly famous for its spectacular primroses, fantastic bluebells, wood anemone and lesser celandine. It’s also home to 28 species of butterfly.
Both managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Ryton Wood, one of the best of the Princethorpe Woods, is one of the county’s largest surviving semi-natural ancient woodlands. Part of it dates to the 11th century. In the large, clear glades there are fabulous bluebell displays. Nearby beautiful Wappenbury Wood, a large semi-natural ancient woodland, offers tranquil bluebell walks (it’s open daily except Wed and Sat)
Ragley Hall, (nr Alcester)
The family home of the 9th Marquess and Marchioness of Hertford and their children. Ragley’s ancient Ladies Wood floor is covered with a carpet of bluebells nestled in the bright green foliage as far as the eye can see. In the shade of the wood, the first thing that hits you is the scent of the bluebells. Join Ragley’s Head Gardener Mark Morrell on a guided 45-min-1hr Bluebell Walk in Ladies Wood on Sat April 22 and Fri April 28 & Sat April 29. To book Tel: 01789 762090 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hartshill Hayes Country Park, (nr Nuneaton)
Managed by Warwickshire County Council and covering 137 acres of woodland and open hilltop it has magnificent views across the Anker Valley and a stunning display of bluebells which are starting to bloom. Parking: £2
Cawston Woods, (Cawston, nr Rugby)
This beautiful ancient woodland came under the threat of housing last year but was saved from the bulldozers by a 1,500 petition. It’s our local and a real hidden gem – popular with dog walkers and very peaceful. You can access it via Dunchurch, a small car park off Cawston Lane or a gated country lane next to Nature Trails Day Nursery on Coventry Road, Cawston. We prefer the latter route:
Along the public footpath you pass Rapeseed and farmers’ fields
And in the woods, we found (& climbed upon) some enormous, quite sculptural, fallen trees
Then you get this wonderful, sweet-scented display…
Guided National Trust Bluebell Walks, The Clent Hills, (nr Romsley,West Mids) Sun April 24 & Wed May 11
You can find bluebells in lots of areas on the hills. One of the best spots is in the valley behind the Four Stones, where the sides of the valley are covered in bluebells, and the woods at the bottom of the valley are also carpeted in them. If you’d like to go further off the beaten track and discover more bluebell woods, then head over to Walton Hill. National Trust volunteers are running guided Bluebell Walks, around 6 miles long, on Sunday April 24 and Wednesday May 11 from 10am-1pm. Walks leave from the cafe at Nimmings Wood Car Park, £2 per person.