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Muddy Walks: Bluebell Woods

Half the world’s population of bluebells can be found in the UK and there are loads of gorgeous places to admire them in Cornwall. Here are a few of our favourites...

Often found alongside the prolific wild garlic that grows in abundance here, the carpets of flowers are surely one of the glorious scents of late spring in Cornwall.

The first of the bluebells are just starting to emerge now, and come the end of the month, they will be everywhere. Here are a whole host of beautiful Cornish bluebell walks to be going on with, which should keep you busy right the way through the month. Got any more suggestions? Let us know in the comments!

Tehidy Woods, Nr Portreath

This is the magical woodland where Muddy-award winning Rogue Theatre can be found and when the bluebells begin blooming in Tehidy Woods it makes the enchanting performance all the more special. This is the biggest area of woodland in West Cornwall with several different entry points and nine miles of trails, so come for the theatre and stay for the flowers.

Pencarrow House & Gardens, Washaway, Nr Bodmin

Between Wadebridge and Bodmin you’ll find the grand Georgian country house, seat of the Molesworth Family: Pencarrow House – perfect for a Bridgerton sort of outing – you can just imagine a game of pall mall taking place on the lawn. The gardens were actually designed and laid out between 1831-55, so a bit later than the Regency of Anthony et al’s time, and the house is technically in a Palladian style, but it is delightful nonetheless, and the gardens include all sorts of more formal points of interest including an Iron Age hill fort, sunken Italian Garden with a quatrefoil fountain and an ancient stone Cornish cross. But, it is the wilder carpets of wild garlic and bluebells we are here for this time, so bypass all that and head straight for the woodland walk.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, Nr St Austell

Another ancient country seat but the house here is off limits and it’s the gardens that are the special part of the estate here. But for bluebells, head not to the walled gardens nor to woodlands near the entrance but out beyond all that, into the Lost Valley where you can follow the ancient woodland pathways initially created 200 years ago for the Tremayne family, then lost to the history of time, and rediscovered when Heligan emerged from its slumber 30 years ago – the woodland floor is carpeted in bluebells come the end of April / start of May.

Enys Gardens, St Gluvias, nr Penryn, Falmouth

Enys Gardens Bluebell Festival
The impressive carpet at Enys Gardens

The historic Enys Gardens are famous for their incredible display of bluebells but you’ll have to plan this one a bit and book in advance. While there is a Mansion House, it’s not open to the public aside from occasional events – here it is all about the gardens, which are said to be some of the oldest in Cornwall. As with all good 18th century, a lot is formally laid out in an Italianate style with long vistas, but here the 30 acres have been split into themed and many much less formal than you’d expect. Gardens open 1 April until 30 September, with five days for an Easter Trail with the annual Bluebell Festival running from 30th April- 8th May.

Cardinham Woods, Nr Bodmin

Really popular with families, this beautiful woodland near Bodmin is a great place to walk or cycle and is carpeted with bluebells at this time of year. Feeling peckish? You’ll find one of the most idyllic little woodland cafés anywhere – with delicious lunches and tea and cake galore. No booking necessary.

Helman Tor, Bodmin Moor

It’s not just the woodlands that are carpeted in bluebells, almost every lane will be full, and they also grow on the moor too. The nature reserve at Helman Tor makes a glorious peaceful walk – look out for the remains of a Neolithic hill settlement, as well as the marsh fritillary butterfly which can be seen in May and June. You can either set out for a specific walk up to the tor, or, for a whole day’s stomp, take the very much longer ancient pilgrimage called the Saints Way (Padstow to Fowey – it’s 30-odd miles, so I did it in four sections) and detour up to the tor to take in the view.

Godolphin Estate, Nr Helston

Managed by the National Trust, Godolphin is a big-old estate, with a rich mining heritage and acres of glorious gardens and countryside to explore. For bluebells, make a beeline for the peaceful woodland, which will be a swaying sea of blue from April to May.

Idless Woods, Nr Truro

Just outside Truro, down the sort of very narrow roads that have grass growing down the middle, is the pretty little village of Idless, with its watermill and ancient woodland. Idless was chosen by the Forestry Commission as one of the ten best places in the UK to see bluebells growing wild – so despite the hairy roads, you really ought to go. It’s also popular with mountain bikers, if you prefer to speed past the bluebells on two wheels.

Antony Woodland Garden, Nr Torpoint

Antony Woodland Gardens are one of the less well known of the Cornish gardens but not one to be missed as it’s bloomin’ gorgeous and especially in spring. This woodland garden is divided into two parts: the smart landscaped bit and ‘The Wilderness’, which is where you’ll find the wild garlic and bluebell-filled woodland, stretching down to the River Lynher. It’s also one of just a few International Camellia Gardens of Excellence in the UK, with more than 600 varieties to feast your eyes on. (Closed Mondays and Fridays except Bank Holidays, National Trust members get 50% discount – you could combine it with.a visit to the more formal NT gardens at Antony House next door).

Penrose Estate, Nr Helston

Another gorgeous National Trust property, Penrose has it all – woodland, coastline, open countryside and Cornwall’s largest natural lake – Loe Pool (where you may even spot an otter). There’s lots of accessible cycling paths here, or a nice place for a trail run, if you care to puff your way through the bluebells.

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