Hampshire Unpacked: Bluebell Woods
Every spring something happens in the woodlands across Britain and the woodlands of Hampshire are no exception. Carpets of blue are beginning to spread out beneath the nascent canopy of green. The bluebells have arrived.
In my home county of Hampshire the best place to see them is Micheldever Woods close to Winchester. This ancient beech woodland is awash with bluebells around April and May. Bluebells thrive in ancient woodlands because there is less undergrowth and therefore less competition. The plants do most of their growing before the leaves of the trees develop with flowers appear as the trees don their mantle of green. The damp, shady conditions of the forest floor are the ideal conditions for the bluebells to thrive.
Micheldever Woods are managed by the Forestry Commission who have made the woods easy to access. From the car park on the southern edge paths take you directly into the woods. Almost immediately patches of blue mist appear to hang just above the forest floor. walk further into the woods and the carpet of blue appears endless disappearing into the trees.
On a sunny Saturday or Sunday there are dozens of “bluebell watchers” wandering among the blue masses. Almost everyone is armed with a camera and taking photographs of the spectacle. The further from the car park the less people you are likely to encounter.
While in the woods you may come across roe deer or fallow deer; both are resident in the woods.
There are several sites of archaeological interest from both the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. A Bronze age burial mound close to the eastern boundary is surrounded by bluebells in season. Further to the west there is the Iron Age settlement and earthworks of Banjo enclosure (so called because of its shape). If you are going to see the bluebells carpeting the woods then both these sites are within the “bluebell zone”.
For children there are a couple of play areas with suitable “foresty” things to do.
For information on Micheldever Woods visit the Forestry Commission website. The bluebells at Micheldever Woods tend to flower over a longer period of time due to environmental factors. Those in the south flower first and just as they reach their peak the bluebells in the north are just beginning to flower. This gives a bigger window of opportunity to get out and see them.
Scroll down for more photographs of the bluebells of Micheldever Woods.