After the snowdrops have faded, and the daffodils wane, it's time for another spring superstar to shine: the bluebell!
In April and May, the gardens, woodlands and pathways of Wales are carpeted with this fragrant, colourful flower. The native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) is also known as the wood bell, fairy flower, and wild hyacinth. As well as smelling wonderful, bluebells provide food for bees, smaller insects, and emerging butterflies.
We asked around for recommendations for the best places to enjoy our native wild bluebells across Wales during the spring.
Banner image of bluebells at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Image credit Carl Stringer.
The Great Gardens of West Wales
The Great Gardens of West Wales comprises of seven spectacular gardens spread around Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. They all have brilliant spring flower displays including our favourite bluebells.
David Hardy, of the National Botanic Garden of Wales, recommends starting at the National Trust’s Colby Woodland Garden, with its wonderful wooded valley full of surprises – and bluebells. Then head to Upton Castle, an absolute must for gardening enthusiasts. Close by is Picton Castle and Gardens, one of Pembrokeshire’s finest stately homes, boasting 40 acres of some of the most beautiful woodland gardens and grounds.
Dyffryn Fernant Garden is six acres of modern garden created by Christina Shand. Exploring the interlinked but diverse gardens takes you round a variety of environments - from a unique bog garden to exotic architectural foliage under the protection of the rocky outcrop of Garn Fawr.
For somewhere for the whole family to enjoy, try Cae Hir, a Welsh garden with a Dutch history near Lampeter. It was voted 2nd Best Garden in Wales 2019/20 by the readers of Garden News.
Aberglasney House and Gardens in the Tywi valley is 10 acres of garden magic. Built during the reign of Elizabeth I, over time the house and gardens fell into disrepair. Since taking over in 1995, the Aberglasney Restoration Trust has worked wonders and now the beautiful house and gardens are restored to perfection.
The National Trust
Recommended by James Williams of Lampeter Ramblers:
'A walk around the beautiful National Trust Dolaucothi estate offers not only a chance to learn about the history of the site and the gold, but there is also an amazing amount of nature to discover. There are riverside trails along with chances to gain expansive spectacular views over the estate. This is topped off by the beautiful bluebells.'
The National Trust has many other wonderful woodland walks in the grounds of their properties across Wales. Plas yn Rhiw near Pwllheli overlooks Cardigan Bay and their woodland is filled with bluebells come spring. The famous gardens at Bodnant, Conwy, feature swathes of bluebells across their meadows. Wild garlic and bluebells fill the air with their scent at the beautifully restored country house at Llanerchaeron, just outside Aberaeron.
The Woodland Trust
Gwion Evans, Vale of Glamorgan Ramblers, suggests heading to Gelli Aur Country Park, Carmarthenshire. He says 'surrounding a private manor house, these woods offer a great chance to see bluebells in their natural habitat.'
Coed y Wenallt in Cardiff is recommended by Bran Devey, Ramblers Cymru Communication and Engagement Manager:
'This 44 hectare Woodland Trust site is a designated ancient woodland and also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). There are great circular trails through the woodland, and there is parking available. As well as a chance to see bluebells, there is a wide variety of birds and other wildlife to see.'
Llanfoist and The Blorenge, Monmouthshire
Recommended by Will Renwick, Ramblers Cymru President.
'Based within the Blaenavon World Heritage site and following part of the Cambrian Way long distance trail, this walk starts from the car park in Llanfoist at SO 28578 13308 on the B4246. Crossing the road from the car park follow the Blorenge and Cambrian Way signs to walk up the hill going through the tunnel underneath the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. Follow the route uphill through the woodland towards the foot of the Blorenge. There, right under the hill’s steep slopes you’ll find a tucked away little dell which will be bursting with purple in spring.'
The Caerau, Rhiw Saeson, Rhondda Cynon Taf
Recommended by Tony Yule of Taff Ely Ramblers:
'This walk is part of a series of 6 walks within Llantrisant Community Council known locally as ‘The Bunny Walks’. This circular route navigates you around the site of an iron age hill fort. The route also takes in dismantled railway lines before leading you through beautiful woodlands and rural countryside. Bluebells can be seen throughout this walk, and you will also cross through the long distance trail the Glamorgan Ridgeway Walk. Leaflets for this walk can be collected from Llantrisant Community Council offices or printed from the Llantrisant Council website.'
Gilfach Nature Reserve, Rhayader
Natural Resources Wales
Just a short drive from Aberystwyth, Gogerddan is an easy to find picnic site with a woodland walk. In spring, there is a stunning display of bluebells and other seasonal flowers to enjoy.
The woodland is home to some beautiful old trees including oak, sweet chestnut and lime which display an array of seasonal colours in autumn.
The car park and picnic area are next to an ancient woodland, once part of the wealthy lead-mining Gogerddan estate. The circular walking trail starts from the car park. It's a fairly short walk but the steep climbs through the trees are rewarded with some lovely views.
There are 10 more spring walk ideas on the Natural Resources Wales website.
Please respect the countryside and keep to designated paths for your safety, and also to protect the ecological balance. Follow the Countryside Code.
Please make sure you are prepared for any walks before you head out, with sensible footwear, clothing and equipment for the weather and conditions. Take a map and a charged mobile phone with you. Let people know where you are going and when you'll be back. Check out the Adventure Smart UK website for plenty of advice on how to ‘make a good day better’. We recommend you read it before planning your days out.