By Rachael Parkin
Every season in the Lake District brings its own unique charms; summer brings scenes of lush green with warm days and hazy evenings; autumn brings crisper air and vistas of burnt gold and orange; winter brings snow-capped mountains and dark nights spent in front of cosy fires but spring is perhaps the most magical of all. With new lambs leaping in the fields our already beautiful landscape is transformed by a carpet of purple, a celebration of colour which loudly declares that winter is well and truly over for another year.
May is usually the best month to witness this violet spectacle as a sea of blue floods into valleys and woodlands throughout the Lakes. We’ve put together a list of some of the best places to see this beautiful yet fleeting floral performance for yourself.
Muncaster Castle Gardens
Nestled amongst the western fells Muncaster Castle and Gardens is a worthy day out at any time of year but during May the gardens bloom into a riot of colour. There are wooded bluebells walks and promenades of rhododendrons and azaleas to explore. And once you’ve finished admiring the flora and fauna you can visit the Hawk and Owl Centre, watch dazzling bird displays and take a tour of the historic (and supposedly haunted) castle itself.
Located between Crummock Water to the north and Buttermere to the south, Rannerdale Knotts is a low fell which every May plays host to “The Valley of the Bluebells”. This annual display sees the slopes of the fell awash with purple as literally thousands upon thousands of bluebells unite in bloom. A walk to the summit of Rannderdale Knotts on a day in May is not one you’re likely to forget any time soon.
Eskdale Green to Dalegarth Station
This delightful two mile walk follows the River Esk through the Eskdale Valley taking in pretty bluebell woods along the way. The walk begins at Forge Bridge near the King George IV pub. Follow the clearly signposted footpath which meanders through fields and woodlands alongside the river. Refreshments are available on arrival at Dalegarth Station after which you can either retrace your steps back through the bluebells or treat yourself to a ride on the famous Ratty back to Eskdale Green. A perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Skelghyll Woods, Ambleside
Situated a just short walk from the centre of Ambleside, Skelghyll Woods offers an easy, yet no less rewarding, way to engage with the yearly bluebell display. The National Trust Champion Tree Trail winds its way from Waterhead Car Park to Jenkin Crag through woods awash with bluebells and offers picnic opportunities aplenty along the way.
White Moss Common
This pleasant walk through White Moss Common is easily accessible from Ambleside and Grasmere and has ample parking. The woods which lie between Rydal Water and Grasmere are blanketed in bluebells during late spring and the National Park maintained paths make a perfect viewing platform for the flowery show.
Low Wood, Wasdale
If you’re looking to escape the crowds and find some solitude amongst the bluebells then Low Wood in the stunning Wasdale Valley is the place to head. With outstanding views across the Lake District’s deepest lake; Wastwater, to its highest Peak; Sca Fell Pike, this family-friendly walk through peaceful bluebell woods will linger in your memory long after you have left.
Remember: The UK’s wild bluebells are protected, so please look but don’t touch. Take care not to trample and always stick to the paths, ensuring that the bluebells remain for others to enjoy for years to come.