Where to see Bluebells by bus and trainaround the UK
One of the great pleasures of spring is wandering among the lakes of bluebells and other spring flowers that suddenly spill out in April and May through woods across the UK. There are probably bluebells nearby wherever you live, but here are six places you don't need to drive to that are great for a springtime outing.
1. The Bluebell Railway, Sussex
Ride the rails in April and May, when the bluebells woods by the track are in bloom (with thanks to Peter Edwards and the Bluebell Railway for the photo). There are also views across the Weald, swathes of ancient woodland and fields of sheep, pigs and shetland ponies. The Bluebell Railway opened as a heritage railway in 1960 – the first standard gauge preserved steam railway in the world to run a public passenger service. The railway also boasts the longest tunnel and longest viaduct of any UK heritage railway and more steam locos than anywhere outside the National Rail Museum in York.
- But this steam railway is not just a destination for train enthusiasts: go along for a ride through rural Sussex with banks of seasonal flowers, a cream tea on the dining train, a pint in the Bessemer Arms, or a stroll to neighbouring Sheffield Park. In fact the Bluebell Railway has come up with a whole series of local walks from stations along the line, all of which feature bluebells in season.
- How to get to the Bluebell Railway car-free: arriving from London, visitors can take the train to East Grinstead (an attractive hour-long journey) and then a very short walk.
- And arriving by train means you can take advantage of the 2 for 1 offer on tickets – download the voucher before you go. Alternatively, there are buses from lots of different places. Follow Good Journey’s directions.
2. Take the train to Billericay in Essex
Norsey Wood has a fascinating history, alongside the spring flowers and butterflies, and is less than ten minutes walk from Billericay Railway Station (see map below).
- Turn right out of the station and left just before The Railway pub. Head left again up Norsey Road and turn right, immediately after Norsey Close, onto a path beside a meadow. You will soon see banks of bluebells on your left.
- Enter the trees where the fence ends, but keep along the edge of the wood. After a little footbridge, red-topped posts with white arrows guide you round a woodland trail, passing a Bronze Age burial mound and a picnic area.
- Crossing the wood’s central ride, which dates back to the Iron Age, go on along the way-marked walk, past ponds and ancient coppiced hornbeams and trenches dug for practice during World War I. The wood also has Roman remains and Wat Tyler’s rebels hid here in 1381 during the Peasants’ Revolt.
- If you feel like a longer walk, you could hike four miles on country roads and tracks to Hanningfield Reservoir. A sea of spring bluebells turns the woods here as blue as the water.
- From the far end of Norsey Wood, turn left along the Heath, right onto Goatsmoor Lane and right again onto a bridleway, just beyond Forty Acre Plantation. Simply keep going in this direction to emerge at last onto Downham Road and turn right towards the reservoir.
- From the welcoming visitors’ centre to the lakeside café is a very leisurely hour’s stroll. Buses 13 or 13a run a few times per day to Chelmsford from outside the nearby Old Windmill pub.
3. Beane Valley, Hertfordshire
Banks of white-star-flowered wild garlic are a seasonal feature of the lovely Beane Valley, just north of Hertford. A five-mile linear walk to the next station, Watton-at-Stone is a top springtime walk – and there’s definitely no need to drive there!
- Start from Hertford North railway station, which has regular trains from London’s Moorgate, calling at Finsbury Park and Highbury and Islington stations.
- Cross the road outside the station and walk a few steps left to the mini roundabout, then right along Beane Road, crossing the river and passing water meadows. Turn left into Molewood Road, follow it to the end and continue along the wooded path ahead. Keep left beside the river, following the Hertfordshire Way signs along the Beane valley for up to four miles.
- Keep going, near the river, until you reach the landscaped grounds of Heath Mount school. Where three arrows point right, turn left (don’t worry – another way-mark soon shows you’re on a public path).
- Cross the old bridge, follow the path under the A119 and right into Watton at Stone. (Did you know: Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films grew up in Watton at Stone and went to school in Hertford?)
- Reaching the pretty High Street, you’ll pass the Bull and George and Dragon pubs.
- Turn left at the water pump to reach the station where trains head back to Hertford (and London) every hour.
- For more adventures in the Hertford area, check out our car-free guide.