April and early May are the best time to see bluebells on the Hartland Peninsula this year. These most beautiful of British wildflowers, with their delicate scent and gently nodding heads, form hazy, purple drifts that present a beautiful contrast against the deep green background of their leaves.
Bluebells can be found all over the Hartland Peninsula. They grow in many places including hedgerows, on coastal slopes and uplands and in shady banks, but it is the spectacular drifts found in the broadleaf woodlands that are perhaps the most beautiful sites.
Three of the best locations are:
- Park at Brownsham National Trust car park (free but please make a donation in the box) then walk down into Beckland Woods or Brownsham Woods. Lovely paths wind all through these woods which are covered in bluebells. You can do circular walks to Windbury Hill Fort or Clovelly.
- From Hartland village, go out of Springfield through the gate and step down into The Vale. These beautiful parkland and woodland walks are where the locals go. There are streams, open spaces, broadleaf woods, the site of a medieval deerpark, a former carriage drive to follow and the vestiges of the 18th and 19th Century planting and landscaping for the Abbey estates. If you'd like to know more about the history follow the Parkland Heritage Walk.
- Hartland Abbey (Bluebell Days on the 20th, 21st and 27th April) has some spectacular displays against the beautiful backdrop of the grounds and woodland walks. Entrance fees apply, see their website: www.hartlandabbey.com.
Bluebell facts, history and folklore
- Bluebells are a protected species, and therefore you cannot pick them
- More than 50% of the world's bluebells are found in the UK
- All parts of the plant are poisonous, but they are being investigated for their potential medicinal properties
- Bluebell sap is very strong - it was used to attach feathers to arrows and in bookbinding
- Myths about bluebells include that anyone wearing a bluebell wreath is compelled to tell the truth
- They are associated with constancy and may be the origin of 'something blue' for weddings