9 places to enjoy bluebells in Essex

PUBLISHED: 14:19 15 May 2017 | UPDATED: 14:19 15 May 2017

'Norsey Wood Bluebells', Judith Duddle, Flickr CC 2.0

'Norsey Wood Bluebells', Judith Duddle, Flickr CC 2.0

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Bluebells are one of the first signs that spring is here and nothing beats strolling through sunny parks and woodland surrounded by the carpets of blue flowers. Here are some of our favourite places to find bluebells in bloom

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1. Norsey Wood, Billericay

At approximately 175 acres, the Norsey Wood has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is well known throughout the county as being a hotbed for wildlife with a huge variety of wonderful plants and animals. With a nature trail, woodland craft activities, a picnic area and lots of walking routes it’s a perfect destination for a family day out. During April and May bluebells flood the area, carpeting the woodland floor in a sea of blue – that’s truly a sight to behold.

2. Blake’s Wood, Danbury

Now is the best time of year to meander through Blake’s Wood near Danbury. The reserve, owned by the National Trust, is positively bursting with colour as bluebells cloak the ground beneath the shelter of the trees. Blake’s Wood is an ancient woodland of almost 100 acres that’s home to a mixture of mature oak, chestnut and coppiced hornbeam as well as a diverse species of birds such as nightingales and hawfinches. Be sure to stop for tea in Danbury at either of the charming cafés, Bluebell Tea room or Tea on the Garden.

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3. Hillhouse Wood, Colchester

Just a stone’s throw from Colchester lies Hillhouse Wood, a patchwork of diverse woodland perfect for a weekend stroll. Home to two ponds, as well as streams running through the wood, there is a huge selection of wildlife to be seen with an active group of volunteers working hard to create and maintain a selection of footpath and trail routes. During the spring the bloom of bluebells in the area is simply breathtaking and well worth a visit.

4. Shadwell Wood, Saffron Walden

This ancient woodland found in Saffron Walden is roughly 17.5 acres in size and is renowned for its fantastic oxlip blooms. The wood is managed in a way that encourages the numerous other flowering plants to flourish and as result, come spring, walkers will see excellent displays of wood violets, wood anemones, purple orchids and of course, bluebells.

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5. Shut Heath Wood, Great Totham

With arguably one of the best bluebell displays in the area, as soon as spring arrives, bluebells literally carpet the floor of Shut Heath Wood. At around 50 acres in size, roughly half of the wood is made up of arable farmland with the other half comprising of ancient oaks, chestnuts, silver birch and hornbeams. A perfect location for a dog walk – provided the dogs are well behaved, there is plenty of space for them to run and explore.

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6. Hanningfield Reservoir, Billericay

Owned by Essex & Suffolk Water and run by the Essex Wildlife Trust, the reservoir is the 11th largest in England with a huge population of diverse wildlife. It’s open to visitors for fishing, walking, nature watching and even a family picnic if the sun is shining. Some of the best bluebell views can be found from the Visitor Centre set within its stunning ancient woodland setting.

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7. Bedford’s Park, Havering

This Local Nature Reserve has lots to see and do. The huge woodland and meadow areas are the perfect places for nature watching or enjoying a family stroll on the weekend; it’s even home to herd of red deer! For when you start to feel a bit peckish head to the Visitor Centre for food and refreshments.

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8. Pound Wood, Benfleet

Acquired by the Essex Wildlife Trust in 1993, Pound Wood is one of the largest remaining areas of ancient woodland in the area, at nearly 55 acres. The wood is an excellent site for wildlife with an abundance of flowers, particularly in spring when the bluebells are flourishing. There are plenty of wonderful walking paths but visitors are advised to keep to the marked trails to avoid disturbing the wildlife in the area.

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9. Weeleyhall Wood, Weeley

Weeleyhall Wood is home to what is arguably one of the most exceptional displays of bluebells in Essex. During spring when the flowers come into bloom, they carpet almost half of the area and at 78 acres this is no small feat. It’s an ideal spot for nature watchers being a habitat for a diverse variety of woodland birds and butterflies. It’s also dog friendly, although owners are encouraged to keep their dogs to certain areas and on a lead when using the track down to the wood.

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