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10 favourite bluebell woods in the Cotswolds

Posted: Fri, 14th Apr 2023

For a few short weeks, as April slides gently into May, ancient woodlands across the country are swathed in a carpet of bluebells, their subtle fragrance filling the air, their distinctive colour a sign that spring has definitely sprung. These beautiful wildflowers are a joyful sight to behold, although folklore declares that they have been enchanted by mischievous fairies and those tempted to pick the delicate blooms should be on their guard!

Throughout the region, woodlands explode with colour and whilst many of the best places to see the bluebells are a closely guarded secret, below you’ll find a few of our favourite bluebell walks in the Cotswolds.

Frith Wood Nature Reserve

This wonderful ancient beech wood straddles the ridge overlooking Painswick Valley and Slad Valley, near Stroud. Spring sees the woodland floor carpeted in bluebells and wild garlic. It is part of the Laurie Lee Wildlife Way and if you listen carefully, you might be lucky enough to hear resident great spotted woodpecker too.

Need to know: Dogs are permitted on a lead.

Bredon Hill

The slopes of Bredon Hill are crisscrossed with walking trails and bridleways, and there are many ways ‘up’ from the villages that surround it. Those in the ‘bluebell’ know follow the Yellow Brick Road from Beckford for a spectacular display in undisturbed woodland, which also happens to offer stunning views over the Vale of Evesham.

Need to know: There is no designated parking area for Bredon Hill. Grazing animals are found on the hill, please keep your dog on a lead if walking through their fields and pastures.

Dover’s Hill

In 1612 Dover’s Hill played host to the first English Olympic Games, and 400 years later, the tradition continues with the Cotswold Olimpicks. It’s also the start (or finish) to the Cotswold Way, and at the foot of the hill in shady woodland, the bluebells bloom wild and free.

Need to know: Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead due to grazing sheep.

Foxholes Nature Reserve

This tranquil spot is an utterly delightful woodland, which slopes down to the River Evenlode. Foxholes is a magical place all year round with lots of wildlife but is particularly well-known for its exceptional displays of springtime bluebells.

Need to know: Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead. Parking is very limited.

Kiftsgate Court

Filling the air with their gentle scent and vibrant cascades of nodding bells, the bluebell wood at Kiftsgate is a breath-taking spot to wander through before exploring the rest of the garden. Admission rates apply.

Need to know: Dogs are not permitted.

Leckhampton Hill

Offering panoramic views over the regency town of Cheltenham Spa, Leckhampton Hill is much-loved by locals and this area of steep woodland stretches from town to the top of the Cotswold escarpment. There are many walking trails to explore, and all across the hill, hidden spots where bluebells bloom.   

Need to know: There are four car parks around the hill. Please be mindful of grazing cattle.

Painswick Rococo Garden

This beautiful garden is renowned for the breath-taking display of snowdrops that herald the onset of spring, but Painswick Rococo Garden is also a place for all seasons. During April and early May, the woodland floor is covered with a blanket of bluebells and the delicate pale yellow of cowslips. Admission charges apply.

Need to know: Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead.

Siccaridge Wood

Siccaridge, near Sapperton, is a lovely place to explore at all times of the year, but there is something rather special when the impressive display of bluebells explodes into life at the end of April. The profusion of Beech trees makes this the perfect habitat for them to thrive.

Need to know: Dogs on a lead are welcome. Parking is very limited.

Tiddesley Wood

Although not strictly in the Cotswolds, it’s close enough to come to the bluebell party. This ancient woodland, near Pershore, is also a protected nature reserve and is filled with hectare upon hectare of bluebells when the time is right. During bluebell season, weekends can be busy, so visit during the week if you can, and you might not see another soul.

Need to know: There is plenty of parking and dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead.

Woodchester Park

Woodchester Park is an enchanting, hidden valley, a lost landscape of shady glades, historic lakes and ruins. Follow the winding pathways through the peaceful landscape and discover a woodland floor strewn in a seemingly endless blanket of wild bluebells.

Need to know: Pay and display parking is available. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead.

Read more: Romantic things to do in the Cotswolds

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