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.

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A carpet of bluebells in Micheldever Woods

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.

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A few steps from the car park and the bluebells have put in an appearance

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.

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A thick and extensive carpet of bluebells

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.

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A young couple in amongst the bluebells

While in the woods you may come across roe deer or fallow deer; both are resident in the woods.

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Bronze Age burial mounds surrounded by bluebells

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”.

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The native British bluebell

For children there are a couple of play areas with suitable “foresty” things to do.

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Bluebells love the damp, shady environment of ancient woodlands like Micheldever Woods

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.

Carpets of blue cover the forest floor in April and May
Carpets of blue cover the forest floor in April and May
There is very British about a bluebell wood
There is something very British about a bluebell wood
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There are paths everywhere among the bluebells
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Clumps of flowers like these massed together are what makes the spectacle
Bluebells in early spring

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