The ultimate guide to bluebell woods essex

20 Facts About Bluebell Woods Essex – Best Places to See Bluebells

There is something quintessentially special about the season of Spring in Britain.  The nights are lighter and summer is tantalisingly close, the trees start to grow and the spring flowers start to bloom.  There’s no better signal of spring than seeing British Bluebells in bloom.  You’ll find bluebell woods throughout the country, although you might not notice them until the bluebells bloom.   Visiting a Bluebell wood near me has always been a right of passage in spring – and here’s all you need to know about the humble British or English Bluebell.  As we stayed near Colchester, Essex one Spring, we hunted out the best bluebell woods.  Essex has a superb variety of bluebell woods, so you won’t lack for choice.

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Best Bluebell Woods Essex – Finding Bluebell Fields Essex

All bluebell photos and photos of bluebell woods were taken in Essex.  We’ve included all the woodlands in which to see bluebells near Colchester, the best bluebell wood, Essex.  In fact, when it comes to bluebells, Essex has some great options.

What Time of Year do Bluebells Flower?

Bluebells are a Spring flower.  The bluebell flowering time is short, sometimes a matter of a week or so.

When do Bluebells Bloom in England?

What month do bluebells flower? You can generally find bluebells in April and May in the UK., but you should follow the weather patterns as a warm Winter and early Spring will find them blooming earlier.

20 Facts about Bluebells

Welcome to our section on Bluebell flower facts.

  1. More than half the world’s bluebells are found in the United Kingdom.
  2. The bluebell species Hyacinthoides non-scripta was first described by Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist in 1753.
  3. It is illegal to uproot, pick or destroy bluebells. They are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.  If you damage these beautiful flowers you can be fined up to £5,000 PER BULB.
  4. Trade in wild bluebell bulbs or seeds was also listed as an offence under schedule 8 of the Act in 1998. You should buy domesticated bluebell seeds instead. xxxx
  5. Bluebells can reproduce sexually by seed or asexually by natural propagation. The main way in which they reproduce is by seed.  This leads to a quite slow spread, as the seeds are dropped close to the plant rather than through wide dispersal.
  6. If you stand on a bluebell it can take years to recover. Crushing the bluebells leaves means that it dies from a lack of food as the leaves cannot photosynthesise.
  7. From seed, bluebells take 5-7 years to grow. It takes 5 years alone to grow from a seed to a bulb.
  8. Bluebells first appeared at the end of the last Ice Age – that’s about 11,700 years ago.
  9. There is evidence that during the Bronze Age bluebell glue was used to attach feathers to arrows.
  10. Glue made from bluebells was used in bookbinding – the toxic properties stopped certain insects from attacking the binding.
  11. There are two types of bluebell commonly found in English woodland. The more delicate native English bluebell and the more vigorous Spanish bluebell.
  12. You may also find a white bluebell. This is a rare albino bluebell and comes about because it is lacking in the blue pigment.
  13. Where you find bluebells you’ll find bees as they rely heavily on the nectar of the bluebell – they sometimes will bite a hole in the bottle of the bell to steal it!
  14. The Bluebell is known by many names – you’ll find them in old stories and myths as “fairy flowers”. There was a legend that fairies used bluebells to lure and trap people travelling through the woods – children were especially susceptible to this!  Other more common names include the wild hyacinth, wood bell, bell bottle, Cuckoo’s Boots, Wood Hyacinth, Lady’s Nightcap and Witches’ Thimbles, Hyacinthoides non-script and Crowtoes.
  15. The bluebell contains 15 biologically active compounds that they use to protect themselves from insects and animals – they are poisonous, however, the toxins in them are now being researched as to how they might treat HIV and cancer.
  16. Monks in the 13th century used bluebells as a treatment against spider bites, snake bites, leprosy and tuberculosis.
  17. All parts of the bluebell are poisonous to humans, dogs, horses and cattle. Ingestion of the bluebell causes a lower pulse rate, nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting.  It may also cause cardiac arrhythmia, hypotension and electrolyte imbalance.  Touching the plant can cause contact dermatitis in some
  18. Herbalists used bluebells to prevent nightmares.
  19. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I the crushed bulbs of bluebells were used to create a starch to stiffen the ruff collars.
  20. In the language of flowers, the bluebell symbolises constancy, humility and gratitude.

8 Bluebell Myths & Legends

  1. Bluebell glades are said to be the domain of fairies. Should you be so unlucky to have wandered into a bluebell glade, then you’re likely to fall under a fairy enchantment and be trapped in the netherworld, or die soon afterwards.
  2. If you hear the ringing of a bluebell, then you’ve stumbled on this call to a fairy gathering and you’ll soon be visited by a malicious fairy and die soon afterwards.
  3. If a child picks a bluebell in a bluebell wood they will never be seen again.
  4. It used to be considered unlucky to walk through bluebells because it was full of spells.
  5. It’s also considered unlucky to pick a flower or bring it into the house.
  6. Endymion, the Latin name for bluebell, was the love of Selene, the moon goddess, who put Endymion into an eternal sleep so she alone could enjoy his beauty.
  7. If you wear a wreath of bluebells you will be compelled to tell the truth (this may be a myth and you shouldn’t pick them to check it out!)
  8. If you can turn a bluebell inside out without tearing it, then you will eventually win the love of the one you desire.

Note that these are legends and myths and you should NOT attempt to wear bluebells or turn them inside out.  We’d love to hear if you’ve heard the sound of the bluebells though…

English Bluebells and Spanish Bluebells

The native English bluebell is very fragile.  This was recognised by gardeners some 300 years ago and the more vigorous Spanish bluebell was introduced to gardens.  The Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) was introduced in the second half of the 17th century as a garden plant.  It grows faster and spreads more quickly than the native British bluebell.  Over the last few hundred years, the two species have hybridized and created a more study native flower.

How to Tell the Difference Between English and Spanish Bluebells.

Here’s how to spot the difference between Spanish and English bluebells – although you’ll have to have a keen eye and nose for most of them!

  1. Pollen – The English bluebell has a creamy white pollen, Spanish bluebells have bluey/green pollen
  2. Shape – the English bluebell has a definite bell-shaped The Spanish bluebell is less bell-shaped.
  3. Colour – the English bluebell is violet coloured. A Spanish bluebell is more hyacinth coloured.
  4. Stem – the English bluebell tends to droop to one side, the stem of the Spanish bluebell is stiffer and more upright.
  5. Smell – the English bluebell has a strong sweet smell, the Spanish bluebell is odourless.
Bluebell Woods Essex

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When to see Bluebells

The English bluebell is a popular spring flower and with such a short flowering season you’re likely to find that the woodlands that you choose to visit are busy.

Weekends and school vacation times will be busy.  The best time to see bluebells is early in the morning or later in the day and during the working week.

Where to Find Bluebell Woods Near You

Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripted) prefer ancient or natural deciduous woodlands.  25% of English woodland is of this type and is the ideal situation for Bluebells to flourish.   The native English bluebell thrives in winter with moisture and shade in summer.  You’ll find them in hedgerows. Bluebells don’t like change and as such, you’ll find bluebells in ancient woods, where the ground has been undisturbed.

Bluebells Essex

Bluebells also grow further north in Scotland.    The Royal Mint commemorated the flora of Scotland in 2014, by releasing a £1 coin containing the thistle and the bluebell of Scotland on it.

While the thistle is the traditional floral symbol of Scotland, the bluebell features in the traditional Scottish folk song, the Blue Bells of Scotland.

British Bluebells and English BlueBell Woods

There are Bluebell woodlands to be found throughout the nation.  Many of them are owned by the National Trust or the Woodlands Trust, although you will find bluebells in hedgerows, where old trees once grew. In the Lake District, the Rannerdale Bluebells are the most famous and unique place to see these delicate spring flowers.

How do I find a BlueBell Woods Near Me?

The easiest ways to find bluebell woods near you are to

  1. Check out the Woodlands Trust and see if you have any woods close to you.
  2. Look up the National Trust – you’ll find a list of Bluebell wood sites on their website.
  3. Check out Instagram – and spot the most recent photos of bluebells in your area.

Best Bluebell Woods Essex –  Finding Bluebell Fields Essex

Renowned for having one of the best displays of bluebells in Essex, this 78-acre wood is great for nature.  It is also called Weeley Woods.  As well as Bluebells Weeley woods contans a a diverse variety of wood and wildlife here.

Weeleyhall Wood Opening Times

No specific opening hours

Weeleyhall Wood Size

31.57 hectares

Weeleyhall Wood Address

Weeleyhall Wood
Nature Reserve
Off the B1441 (Colchester to Clacton Road)
Weeley
Essex

Weeleyhall Wood Map (also Weeley Essex Map)

WeeleyHall_Wood_Bluebell_Wood_Map

Weeleyhall Wood Facilities

  • None

Weeleyhall Wood Access for Mobility Impaired/ Wheelchairs?

No.  Parking is 15 minutes walk down a track.  This track is a private road and no vehicles are allowed without specific permission.

Weeleyhall Wood Parking

Parking is difficult, park on the main B1441 road, near the Garden Centre.

Bluebell Field Essex

Bluebells at Westhouse Wood, Braiswick, Colchester, Essex

You’ll find bluebells and wood anemones here, plus foxgloves.  There are Rowan, Crab Apple, Oak and Ash trees here.  These are the closet Bluebell woods to Colchester, Essex.

Westhouse Wood Opening Times

No specific opening hours

Westhouse Wood Size

2.83 hectares

Westhouse Wood Address

Nature Reserve
On the left off the B1508 Colchester-Sudbury Road, just before it passes over the A12 at Braiswick
Colchester
Essex

Westhouse Wood Map

Westhouse_Wood_Bluebell_Wood_Colchester_Essex

Westhouse Wood Facilities

  • None

Westhouse Wood Access for Mobility Impaired/ Wheelchairs?

No

Westhouse Wood Parking

The entrance is down a slip road on the left off the B1508 Colchester-Sudbury road.  Parking is available.

Want to know more about things to do in Colchester?  Read our guide here.

Bluebells at Hillhouse Woods, West Bergholt, Colchester, Essex

Park at the Church and then take a wander along the lane to Hill house Woods, .  There are 2 ponds here and a multiple of trails to wander in the bluebell woods.   While it’s not necessary to take an organized bluebell walk. Essex, West Bergholt local volunteers organize bluebell walks in Essex during the season, details from the Woodland Trust.  

Field of Bluebells Essex

Hill house Woods Opening Times

No specific opening hours

Hillhouse Wood Size

13.56 hectares

Hillhouse Wood Address

Hillhouse Wood, West Bergholt

Colchester, Essex

Hillhouse Wood Map

Hillhouse_Woods_Bluebell_Woods_Map

Hillhouse Wood Facilities

  • None

Hillhouse Wood Access for Mobility Impaired/ Wheelchairs?

Difficult.  Parking is at the local Church, access to the wood is down a rutted track, which may get muddy after rain.  Trails in the wood are not wheelchair accessible.

Hillhouse Wood Parking

Drive to and park nearby by West Bergholt, St Mary’s Church.  Be sure to NOT block access to the roads and fields here.

Bluebells at Norsey Wood, Billericay

This 175 Acre wood is a site of special scientific interest, not just for the Norsey Woods bluebells.  These are, I think the nicest woods for Billericay bluebells.  There’s a nature trail, picnic area and lots of trails to walk.   Norsey Wood bluebells can be seen around the nature trail has steep slopes, but there is an easy access trail.  This site is maintained by Basildon Council.

Bluebells Norsey Woods Billericay Opening Times

No specific opening hours

Norsey Wood Size

67.2 hectares

Norsey Wood Address

Norsey Woods Information Centre
Outwood Common Road
Billericay
Essex
CM11 1HA

Norsey Woods Map

Norsey_Wood_Bluebell_Wood_Essex

Norsey Wood Facilities

  • Car Park
  • Information Centre
  • Toilets
  • Picnic Area

Norsey Wood Access for Mobility Impaired/ Wheelchairs?

There is an easy access trail which is accessible from the car park.fs

Norsey Woods Carn Parking

There are entrances on Outwood Common Road, Break Egg Hill, Norsey Close, Deerbank and Norsey Road.  Parking is to be found on the Outwood Common Road entrance.

Directions:  If travelling on the A127 (London-Southend), turn onto the A176 (Billericay turnoff). Proceed to Billericay High Street and take the right fork at the far end (Norsey Road). As you leave the built-up area, look out for Outwood Common Road on the right. The entrance to the Wood is about 350 metres up this road on the right.

If you are approaching from the Chelmsford direction along the B1007, take the left exit at the roundabout (Potash Road) soon after entering the built-up area of Billericay. At the end of this road, turn left and then almost immediately right into Outwood Common Road. The entrance to the Wood is about 350 metres on the right.

Where to Find Bluebells Essex

Bluebells at Blake’s Wood, Danbury, Essex

Blake’s Wood is owned by the National Trust and stretches for 100 acres.  Blakes Woods bluebells can be found on the trails, alongside matures oaks and chestnuts and a lot of birdlife here.   There are two tearooms here, the Bluebell Tea Room and Tea on the Garden.

Blake’s Wood Essex Opening Times

Danbury Woods Commons and Blake’s Wood is open dawn until dusk.

Blake’s Wood Size

214 acres (includes Danbury and Lingford Commons)

Blake’s Wood Address

Blake’s Woods Information Centre
Outwood Common Road
Billericay
Essex
CM11 1HA

Blake’s Wood Map

Blakes_Wood_Danbury_Commons_Bluebell_Woods_Essex

Blake’s Wood Facilities

  • Free Car Park
  • Picnic Areas
  • Information Boards & Maps
  • Tea Room in Danbury
  • The Cricketers Pub close to Danbury Common

Blake’s Wood Access for Mobility Impaired/ Wheelchairs?

There is no specific mobility impaired parking.  All parking has uneven surfaces, bridleway trails have ash surfaces that are generally flat, but may be boggy in wet weather.  Blake’s Wood has uneven paths and tree roots.

Blake’s Wood Parking / Danbury Woods Car Park

Free parking is available at Danbury Commons and Blake’s Wood car park.

Bluebells at Shadwell Wood, Saffron Walden, Essex

This small (17.5 acres) but ancient woodland is famous not just for bluebells but also orchids, wood violets and wood anemones.

Shadwell Wood Essex Opening Times

No specific opening hours

Shadwell Wood Size

7.08 hectares

Shadwell Wood Address

Shadwell Wood
Nature Reserve
One mile from Ashdon
Saffron Waldon
Essex

Shadwell Wood Map

Shadwell_Wood_Bluebell_Woods_Saffron_Walden

Shadwell Wood Facilities

  • Parking

Shadwell Wood Access for Mobility Impaired/ Wheelchairs?

Terrain can be difficult and the footpaths are not suitable for wheelchair users

Shadwell Wood Parking

Parking is available.

Bluebells at Shut Heath Wood, Great Totham, Essex

At 50 acres, the Shut Heath Wood is made up of arable farmland alongside oaks, silver birch and hornbeams.

Shut Heath Wood Opening Times

No specific opening hours

Shut Heath Wood Size

20.23 hectares

Shut Heath Wood Address

Shut Heath Wood
Nature Reserve
Great Totham
Essex

Shut Heath Wood Map

Shut_Heath_Wood_Nature_Reserve

Shut Heath Wood Facilities

  • Parking

Shut Heath Wood Access for Mobility Impaired/ Wheelchairs?

No specific mobility impaired access routes.

Shut Heath Wood Parking

Parking is available.

Directions – Leave the B1022 at Roundbush Corner, Great Totham, taking Mountains Road. After about 1200m take the first turning on the right (Tiptree Road) and the entrance is about 400m down on the left with double gates at the entrance.

Glade of Bluebells

Bluebells at Hanningfield Reservoir, Billericay

Run by the Essex Wildlife Trust this is a great option if you have mobility impaired visitors who want to see bluebells.  Many of the best views of bluebells can be seen from the Visitor Centre.  You can also fish, walk and picnic here too.  At the Essex Wildlife Trust Hanningfield there is a suggested entrance donation of £2 per adult, £1 per child or £5 per family.

Hanningfield Reservoir Opening Times

0900-1700

Hanningfield Reservoir Size

40 hectares (woodland reserve)

Hanningfield Reservoir Address

Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre
Hawkswood Road, Downham
Billericay
Essex
CM11 1WT

Hanningfield Reservoir Map

hanningfield_reservoir_bluebell_wood_essex

Hanningfield Reservoir Facilities

  • Gift shop
  • Visitor centre
  • Picnic facilities
  • Toilets
  • Disabled toilet
  • Baby changing

Hanningfield Reservoir Access for Mobility Impaired/ Wheelchairs?

It is possible to view the reservoir and the bluebells from the visitor centre.

Hanningfield Reservoir Parking

Parking is available on site.

Bluebells at Bedford’s Park, Havering, Essex

Bedford’s Park Essex is a nature reserve with woodland (where you can see bluebells), meadows and a herd of red deer.  There’s a visitor centre with food and drinks available too.

Bedford’s Park Opening Times

0900 – 1700 during Bluebell Season.  Winter opening times until 1600.

Bedford’s Park Size

87 hectares

Bedford Park Address

Bedfords Park
Visitor Centre
Broxhill Road
Havering-atte-Bower
Essex
RM4 1QH

Bedford’s Park Map

Bedfords_Park_Bluebell_Woods_Essex_Map

Bedford’s Park Facilities

  • Café
  • Gift shop
  • Visitor centre
  • Picnic facilities
  • Toilets
  • Disabled toilet

Bedford’s Park Access for Mobility Impaired/ Wheelchairs?

Yes.  Some trails are wheelchair friendly.

Bedford’s Park Parking

Use the entrance off Broxhill Road, opposite the white water tower.

Bluebells at Pound Wood, Benfleet, Essex

Pound Wood’s 55 acres is owned by the Essex Wildlife Trust.  There are many walking paths here, a lot of wildlife and tracts of ancient woodland in which the bluebells thrive.

Pound Wood Opening Times

No specific opening hours

Pound Wood Size

22.26 hectares

Pound Wood Address

Pound Wood
Nature Reserve
Daws Heath Road
Thundersley
Benfleet
Essex

Pound Wood Map

Pound_Wood_Bluebell_Wood_Map_Essex

Pound Wood Facilities

  • Parking

Pound Wood Access for Mobility Impaired/ Wheelchairs?

No

Pound Wood Parking

Turn south off the A127 at Rayleigh Weir on to Rayleigh Road (A129) and turn left on to Daws Heath Road at the Woodmans Arms mini roundabout. Alternatively join the A129 from the A13 and turn right on to Daws Heath Road. Park on local streets with consideration for local residents.

Woodlands Trust Bluebell Woods

Many of the woodlands maintained by the Woodlands Trust contain bluebells.  The top 10 Woodlands Trust bluebell woods are:

  1. Duncliffe Wood, Dorset
  2. Greyfield Wood, Somerset
  3. Ashenbank Wood, Cobham, Kent
  4. Costells Wood, Scaynes Hill, Sussex
  5. Old Wood, Sheringham, Norfolk
  6. Tattershall Carrs, Tattershall, Lincolnshire
  7. Burroughs Wood, Leicestershire
  8. Hackfall, North Yorkshire
  9. Sea Wood Ulverston, Cumbria
  10. Warriners Wood, Kendal, Cumbria

You can find a full list of Woodlands Trust Bluebell Woods here.

National Trust Bluebell Woods

The National Trust also manages many woodlands which are famous for their bluebell crops.  The National Trust lists their Bluebell fields by region.  You can find a full list of National Trust Bluebell Woods here.

When do Bluebells Bloom?

In a similar fashion to the Japanese Cherry Blossom season, there’s a defined period when bluebells bloom.  In Britain, native English bluebells flood ancient woodlands in a sea of powder blue and hues of purple from mid-April to late May each year.  While bluebells are not unique to England, it does account for more than 50% of the world’s bluebells.    The common bluebell is found from Northern Western Spain to the British Isles.

The time period when Bluebells bloom will depend on the weather.  In 2018 there has been unseasonably warm weather and we’ve seen Bluebells a little earlier than expected.  Keep an eye on your favourite Instagram accounts to spot when bluebells are blooming in your area.

Bluebell Carpet Essex

How to Get the Best Photos of Bluebells.

While we all want to take a walk in a bluebell wood in the Spring sunshine, you’d be best placed for a photograph find a slightly overcast day.  The contrast in your photo will be much better and you’re more likely to get a better shot.  Dappled light through the trees in ancient woodlands on a sunny day may cause a few contrast problems when you’re photographing bluebells.

FAQs about Bluebells and Bluebell Facts

Here are the questions most people have about bluebells in the UK. If we haven’t answered one that you have, then ask us in the comments.

When do Bluebells Come Out?

In Britain, Bluebells bloom from mid-April to late May each year. The time period when Bluebells bloom will depend on the weather.  In 2018 it was unseasonably warm and Bluebells were a little earlier than expected. 

Is it Illegal to Pick Bluebells?

Yes. It is illegal to uproot, pick or destroy bluebells. They are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.  If you damage these beautiful flowers you can be fined up to £5,000 PER BULB.

How long are Bluebells in bloom?

Bluebells should bloom for 3-4 weeks. This is weather dependent.

Do bluebells come back every year?

Yes. Once bluebells are established – which can take 5-7 years, they will return each year. Bluebells are perennial.

Travel Tips for Exploring England

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article about where to see the best bluebell woods in Essex and around the UK.   Let us know where your favorite bluebell wood is, we’d love to hear.

This article is in memory of Edith May Fieldgate May 16th, 1936 – October 4th, 2017

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