Bluebell walks in Dorset: 15 of the best places to go
- Credit: Edward Griffiths
April and May are the best time to enjoy a Dorset walk filled with bluebells. Dorset magazine's walks writer Edward Griffiths shares some of his favourite places to view bluebells across the county, from carpets of bluebells and wild garlic in ancient woodland to rivers of bluebells cascading down hillsides
1. Delcombe Wood, near Milton Abbas: On the western edge of the high road between Milton Abbas and Bulbarrow Hill, massed bluebells and wild garlic densely carpet the mixed beech and sycamore clad slopes of Delcombe Wood. From Bulbarrow Hill parking viewpoint, walk south-west to the nearby junction and double-back east for ‘Milton Abbas’. Delcombe Wood is over the right flint/stone wall and is best viewed on foot. As the magnificent display continues for two miles, over the wall as well as in left trees, to and beyond Delcombe Manor’s entrance, you may prefer to consider it a scenic drive. There is no public access. Bridleways begin off the roads at either of the wood but they are outside the bluebell display area.
Start from: Bulbarrow Hill parking viewpoint.
Grid Ref: ST783059 OS Map 194
2. Duncliffe Wood, Stour Row: South of the A30 west of Shaftesbury. From the Woodland Trust car park, off the lane between the A30 and Stour Row, meander on the extensive network of paths and bridleways through 92-hectares of mixed deciduous trees, owned and managed by the Woodland Trust, where swathes of bluebells, celandine, stitchwort and wood anemones carpet everywhere from the lowest paths to Duncliffe Hill’s twin summits. An exhilarating experience, and extremely photogenic.
Start from: Woodland Trust car park off the lane between the A30 and Stour Row.
Grid Ref: ST817222 OS Map 183
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3. Hooke Park, near Powerstock: Hooke Park is the site of the Architectural Association’s School of Architecture, set up to educate post graduate masters students in the sustainable use of forest produce in architectural projects and research. From the parking area, follow the stony forest track through mixed deciduous and pine woods to the ‘Stairway to Nowhere’. Take the left track, rising steeply with ever increasing bluebells. At the top, turn right. Between stylish barns, turn left onto the Tarmac drive. Continue to the ‘Hooke Park’ exit. Turn left along the bluebell bedecked road back to the gated entrance.
Start from: Park off the Toller Porcorum to Toller Whelme road in the cantilever gated entrance, clear of the gateway.
Grid Ref: ST525002 OS Map 194
4. King Down Wood, Badbury Rings: Follow the bridleway along the left fields’ boundary, keeping Badbury Rings over to your right, and up the enclosed path to the tracks crossing where bluebells abound amongst fallen branches and coppiced hazel in facing King Down Wood.
Starts from: Badbury Rings National Trust car park off B3082, near Wimborne.
Grid Ref: ST962032 OS Map 195
5. Thorncombe Wood, Higher Bockhampton: Part of Puddletown Forest, bluebells proliferate in Thorncombe Wood. Through the car park, take the ‘Thorncombe Wood Picnic Area’ signed path. Past the Roman Road, take ‘Hazel Coppice’ rising path with masses of bluebells clustering through ancient coppice. Continue all the way (it’s going anti-clockwise) and down through pines to the forest track. Go left to the ‘Hazel Coppice’ sign-post and back to the car park.
Start from: Thorncombe Wood Local Nature Reserve car park for Hardy’s Cottage.
Grid Ref: SY725922 OS Map 194.
6. Abbott Street Copse, near Wimborne: Also known as Pamphill Wood, walk down Abbott Street and take a left into All Fools Lane. The extensive coverage of bluebells throughout the wood are currently only viewable from the one-way fenced path which was made necessary for bluebells to recover following extensive damage caused by visitors trampling down flowering plants. So admire from a distance.
Start from: National Trust parking area, north end of Pamphill’s oak avenue on Kingston Lacy Estate near Wimborne.
Grid Ref: ST989008 OS Map 195
7. Chetterwood, Manston: Follow the off-road bridleway north 200 yards to the hedge-gap. Cross the road into the bridleway-track between cottages. Passing wooden outbuildings, continue ¼ mile to Chetterwood’s six-ways junction. For the best bluebell displays, through sycamore saplings and fallen branches, cross into the slightly-right bridleway with pines left and mostly sycamores right. Along this track, take first right bluebell-edged bridleway to the nearby bridleway T-junction. Turn right again and follow the bridleway. Cross the forest track. In 100 yards, take the right unsigned path. With pines right, continue to the outbuildings where you began. Return to the road and bridleway back to the start.
Start from: Limited parking off Witchampton-Manswood lane corner.
Grid Ref: ST977077 OS Map 195
8. Colmers Hill, Symondsbury: From the Symondsbury Estate Manor Yard car park take the ‘Colmers Hill Walk’ permissive path which rises gently anti-clockwise through fields of sheep to the final ascent up the west slope of Colmers Hill. The south-west slopes are cloaked with bluebells amongst bracken, and the views from the top scan from Lambert’s Castle to West Bay and the sea. Finish your walk with a visit to the Symondsbury Kitchen for brunch, lunch, or afternoon tea.
Starts from: Symondsbury Estate Manor Yard Car Park, located at the end of Mill Lane.
Grid Ref: SY440939 OS Map 193
9. Langdon Wood, near Golden Cap: From the National Trust Langdon Hill car park, go through the car park’s end gate, follow the track clockwise around the hilltop Scots pine and larch plantation, passing the ‘Golden Cap’ footpath. There’s a south-north path through the centre but the countless bluebells congregate primarily between deciduous trees and fallen branches on the outer slopes.
Start from: Located just west of Chideock, on Chideock Hill, unsigned Muddyford Lane turns south off the A35 and turns left to National Trust Langdon Hill car park.
Grid Ref: SY412930 OS Map 193.
10. Mistleberry Wood, Sixpenny Handley: Take the narrow eastward signed-footpath ascending from the right corner, soon surrounded by copious amounts of bluebells. At the top, follow the footpath along Shire Rack, the flint-stone Wiltshire county boundary for half a mile with sheep-grazing field left. Dense clouds of bluebells reach through deciduous trees into the far distance amongst fallen branches artistically arranged by nature. At Mistleberry Wood’s unfinished hill-fort right, the bank and ditch are covered with bluebells, wood anemones and wild garlic.
Start from: Park right of West Chase Farm’s footpath-signed drive at the New Town end of Dean Lane from Sixpenny Handley through Deanland.
Grid Ref: ST988193 OS Map 184.
11. Oatclose Wood, Winterborne Clenston: Incorporating Milton Park Wood, Charity Wood and Whatcombe Wood, Oatclose is part of one vast Forestry England woodland site. Walk through the woods on easy bridleway tracks, where bluebells proliferate with wild garlic and wood anemones.
Starts from: Park in Milton Abbas (Grid Ref: ST810020/OS Map 194) or Winterborne Stickland (Grid Ref: ST835046/OS Map 194). No parking for bridleway access on Winterborne Clenston road.
12. Piddles Wood, Sturminster Newton: Walking from the car park there are plentiful bluebells both sides of the many paths branching off from the main bridleway track which undulates through mixed deciduous woodland.
Start from: Free car park off the lane between Newton and Broad Oak.
Grid Ref: ST792197 OS Map 194
13. Powerstock Common: From the Dorset Wildlife Trust car park, after the track’s gate, take the bridleway right, then left for ‘Brick Kiln’. Follow the bridleway, with occasional arrow-posts, bluebells either side and two ponds. Across a track with right gateway, continue up through coppice and through a bridleway-gate. Bluebells are abundant in the trees, along the path and on the western slopes below a barrow with views to Lewesdon Hill and Pilsdon Pen. Return to the track, go right and walk back to the car park.
Start from: West of Toller Porcorum, Dorset Wildlife Trust car park south of the railway bridge off the Toller Whelme to Eggardon Hill lane.
Grid Ref: SY547974 OS Map 194
14. Kingston Lacy, Wimborne Minster: From April to May, the National Trust's Kingston Lacy and its surrounding estate is one of most popular areas in the county to see bluebells, with thousands coming to see the spectacular carpets of flowers. The best place to see carpets of bluebells are along the Kingston Lacy Woodland Trail. Explore either on foot or bike, with options of a short loop of approximately 1.5 miles or a longer loop of approximately 3 miles. There is plenty of parking and after the walk you can stop for tea and cake in the café or take time to explore the other spring blooms in the garden. Admission: Adult £18/ child £9 Click here for opening times. Download one of the following trails where you can admire bluebells.
Pamphill and Cowgrove :A gentle 2.8 mile walk which passes Abbott Street Copse.
Pamphill Green and Moor: A gently 1.8 mile walk which explores the woodland of Hart’s Copse.
Other bluebell walks worth checking out...
15. Fifehead Wood, Fifehead Magdalen: This attractive 20 hectare mixed broadleaf woodland, looked after by the Woodland Trust, is a Site of Nature Conservation Importance due to its good woodland structure and associated woodland species such as bluebell and wood anemone, making this a popular spring ramble from the Blackmore Vale village of Fifehead Magdalen. Free parking nearby.
Grid Ref: ST773215/ OS Map 183
Save our bluebells: English bluebells are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) which prohibits landowners from removing bluebells from their land for sale and prohibits anyone from digging up bulbs from the countryside. And, try not to tread on a single one.