That explosion of vivid green and ultramarine blue on the forest floor, stretching under the beech trees as far as the eye can see. That delicate, unmistakable scent, hanging in the air.
Of all the spring sights the New Forest has to offer, our bluebells are one of the most magnificent. Why? Because native bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) love nothing more than to grow in an ancient woodland – and the New Forest has the highest proportion of ancient woodland in the British Isles.
That said, our iconic free-roaming ponies and cattle as well as the native deer take their toll on The New Forest’s bluebells – but the drifts protected from the assault are truly spectacular – and the wildlife of course is a spectacle in itself.
Bluebells flower before the trees are in full leaf so they can complete their lifecycle while the light is high. Many consider their appearance as the beginnings of summer. They’ve inspired great artists, including the potter William de Morgan, and great writers; Emily Bronte described them as: ‘The sweetest flower that waves in summer air,’ whereas Alfred, Lord Tennyson found them to be: ‘Like the sky, the blue sky, breaking up through the earth.’
So, where’s the best place to see our bluebells? To get you started, take a look at our Bluebells and Breakfast Trail.
Two of the best bluebell woods are the Broomy Inclosure, north of Linwood, and the Pondhead Inclosure, near Lyndhurst. Sandleheath, near Fordingbridge, has a network of public footpaths and bridleways bordered by primroses and bluebells.
Roydon Woods near Brockenhurst is also very special. It’s a patchwork of ancient woodland, pastures, heaths and the Lymington River – and a haven for a sea of bluebells.
Exbury Gardens is particularly stunning at this time of year. Take a drive to the home of the world-renowned Rothschild collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. But make it the Summer Lane approach – a two-mile drive alive with a vibrant haze of bluebell drifts.
The Forest’s cycle tracks are a great way to see bluebells with the route between New Park, Brockenhurst and Bank especially recommended.
Enjoy a romantic stay in one of The New Forest’s luxury hotels or take the children on a bluebell adventure with a break at one of the area’s holiday parks, family-friendly hotels or B&Bs. Take a look at our accommodation pages for more information.