My Guide to the best Bluebell Woods in Devon Dorset and Somerset
Best Bluebell Woods in Devon Dorset and Somerset
I love bluebells – the heady scent, their amazing colour and the promise they bring that summer is really on its way again. A walk in the types of ancient woodlands that bluebells love is hard to beat. The leaves of the beech trees emerge almost fluorescent green, the sun dappling through their branches casting shadows on the bluebells so that together they look so beautiful.
This is my guide to the best Bluebell Woods on the Devon, Dorset, Somerset borders – there are no doubt others that you know of, but these are local ones on my doorstep so I’m a bit biased! Some I have been recommended so I have to admit I’ve not been to all of them yet. So that’s the plan for this Spring, new woods and more photos! Please tell me your favourite spots for me to visit and hope you get out to discover some new places yourself.
These woods are well known to locals but designed to confuse anyone new. Known locally as Charmouth Forest they are not in Charmouth at all, but a few miles away on the edge of village called Wootton Fitzpaine.
The lower section of woods are beech woods, which is where you will find the most amazing display of bluebells. A nice circular walk will take you through the woods and also offers fabulous views of Charmouth. The woods also extend North and West, this larger part is Forestry Commission. This area is maintained pine woods so not as attractive, but the advantage is there is a good track. It offers plenty of area to explore and means that walking is accessible for everyone here including those of you with pushchairs (although you may struggle in amongst where the bluebells are sorry).
To reach the woods head along the the B3165 (Lyme Regis to Crewkerne Road). Approx 3 miles from Raymonds Hill (A35) turn at the Devon Dorset border through the white gates (there’s a geocache at the base of one!). Wind along for about 1 mile following signs for Wootton Fitzpaine. There is a car park set off the road on the left in a clearing in the trees. The woods are also referred to as Champernhayes Woods or Wootton Hill.
Set 1/2 mile from the well known Lambert’s Castle, this ancient hill fort is awash with bluebells in the spring and is lovely for a short walk. Make the circuit around the edge of the fort and enjoy the peace and quiet of the centre where you could stop for a picnic or lay back and watch the clouds roll by. Cross the road and you can enjoy the stunning views across the Marshwood Vale. This is a National Trust site, and is in fact very close to the woods described above. Coney’s Castle is just off the B3165. There is a car park off the road.
This iconic tree topped hill near Bridport is not a place you would expect to see bluebells. However surprisingly the hillside is covered in them. It makes a change from the leafy woodland walks and beech trees that we usually associate with bluebells. Even better of course are the stunning views from the top.
Here’s a link to a walk that I wrote up last year on Colmer’s Hill
Holyford Woods, near Seaton
One of the oldest woodlands in England, this nature reserve is managed by the East Devon Countryside team and Holyford Woodland Trust with their band of volunteers. This woodland is beautiful for a walk at anytime of year. It’s not the most accessible place to access or walk around (access is via a fairly steep hill from Tower Garage), but it makes it all the more special. Here is a link to some more information about Holyford Woods.
Last year I took myself along to Blackbury Camp (near Sidmouth). Known far and wide for its bluebells which are set in and around this hill fort.
This is a really lovely place and also perfect for toddlers, one of the few woods suitable for buggy’s and great for a picnic.
Take a look at my blog post from last year for more details about this site and a great place for a cuppa afterwards – Blackbury Castle.
Coombe Wood near Honiton
This is one of those places that the National Trust and locals keep secret from us. Lots of places like this are not listed in the NT guide book but are scattered around the countryside. Last year I was bit late to see the bluebells but I’ve heard it’s one of the best. However it’s a lovely walk at any time of year.
The woods are small and there is a one mile circular walk around the perimeter, the perfect length for a stroll for all ages. This woodland is just to the north of Honiton. You can read more about Combe Woods here.
Otterhead Lakes and Woods
If you are a regular reader then you will know I recently wrote about Otterhead Lakes south of Taunton – these showed great potential for bluebells – please let me know what it’s like now.
Another of my winter walks that will be springing into life and sharing it’s bluebells. Offwell Woods are near Honiton just off the A35 – here’s the link to the post Offwell Woods.
Popping across the border into Somerset are the lovely Wayford Woods near Clapton. When I went it was late May and the rhododendrons were in bloom so I had missed the bluebells – but I’ve taken it from good authority that they are also worth the trip for. Read my post on Wayford Woods for more details.
In Somerset I also have Castle Neroche to visit which was originally a hill fort. It’s just a short drive North from the A303 heading towards Taunton (the turning by the Eagle Tavern pub for anyone who knows the area). Castle Neroche is very popular and is a Forestry Commission site that has marked paths and routes to follow.
Another bluebell place I have recently heard about is Thurlbear Wood Nature Reserve near Taunton. This is managed by Somerset Wildlife Trust – do let me know if you’ve been and how good it is.
Phew that’s quite a list even if I do say so myself! The last few years everyone seems to have gone a bit bluebell mad – they were talking about them on Radio 2 as if it’s a new discovery. It seems we are now being asked to report on the bluebells we find, so if that’s what you’d like to do as well as search for more woods then there are a couple of links.
Other places to look for bluebells and to log your finds: