May is quite probably the best time to visit the Lake District. The weather is usually lovely then, the lambs play in the fields, the spring blossom is out and the birds are singing. The highlight, though, are the bluebells that create an aura of magic when you come upon them in a wood or (more occasionally) on a fellside.
Here are five of the best places to see bluebells in the Lake District, although you will still chance upon them in little pockets of woodland and by the sides of the road when you’re out and about.
Muncaster Castle and Gardens
Spend all day exploring the wild gardens of Muncaster – and in May it’s the best time to come. Not only will you see the most amazing bluebells in the ancient woodland here, but the rhododendrons are at their best giving a spectacular display of colour. It is at Muncaster where you will see Europe’s oldest collection of rhododendrons.
There is also the Georgian Terrace, a formal walk with other plants that create a riot of colour throughout the year. The Hawk & Owl Centre within the grounds is open daily from mid-February to December and hosts bird of prey flying displays
For nearby cottages to stay in while visiting this area, try Sally’s Cottages in Ravenglass and Eskdale.
Loughrigg Terrace, Grasmere
Not only do you see a wonderful haze of bluebells in the woodland by Grasmere, but if you walk up the fellside beyond the woods, the bluebells have spread out here and you will experience vast carpets of colour flowing down the fellside at Loughrigg Terrace towards the lake. Benches along the path provide the perfect rest stop as you can sit and savour the glorious surrounding scenery.
For cottages in Grasmere, visit Sally’s Cottages.
Arguably the most famous bluebell walk within the Lakes, every year visitors are drawn to see the Rannerdale bluebells above Crummock Water, which are in a rare location on open fellside rather than among trees.
Legend suggests this hidden valley was one of the last seats of resistance against the Norman invaders and the bluebells are said to have sprung up from the blood spilled during the Battle of Rannerdale. Fortunately, these days there are no such battles! In fact, the areas surrounding Crummock Water are absolutely idyllic in this remote part of the Lake District.
These bluebells are protected and need to be treated with care – any bluebells that are walked on will not come back next year so please make sure you stick to paths here.
For holiday cottages in the Lake District - Loweswater and Buttermere area, visit Sally’s Cottages.
A Secret Spot at Skelwith Bridge
Combining a walk through the bluebell woods with a homemade cakes at a beautiful café ticks all the boxes in my view! With that in mind, a walk along the River Brathay near Skelwith Bridge is one of the best times you’ll have. Afterwards visit the café of Chesters By The River – a fabulous spot for great food and drink. I guarantee you won’t want to leave!
For holiday cottages by Sally’s Cottages in Ambleside, click here.
Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood Nature Reserve, Staveley
Managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust, this upland oak woodland reserve consists of three separate areas – High Wood, Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood and Beddard’s Wood – and bluebells, wild garlic, early purple orchids and the scarcer herb-paris create a glorious array of colour and scent in spring.
Being off the beaten track, you may well find that you have this bluebell wood all to yourself!
For holiday cottages in Windermere, close by, visit Sally’s Cottages.