I’d never seen any thing like it, the surfaced trail in the woods was heaving, alive – not with woodland creatures, nor with the magical sounds of elves or pixies chattering and laughing in the sunlit glade. Fairies fluttering from toadstool to toadstool couldn’t even become a figment of my wild imagination. For this part of the woods was teeming with people, all here to see the abundance of Bluebells that are a quintessential sign of British spring time.
As we pulled up to Micheldever Woods in Hampshire we could tell this was to be no ordinary Sunday afternoon stroll in the woods. The quiet country road that leads to the Wood car park was littered with parked cars, the car park itself was a hub of activity and we were left somewhat bemused by the sheer number of people gathered there with huge cameras and massive lenses.
It turns out we had stumbled upon a seasonal highlight, a woodland carpet of Bluebells reaching far and wide. Under the Wildlife and Countryside act of 1981 the Bluebell is a protected species in the UK due to an aggressive hybrid (Hyacinthoides x massartiana) – the product of cross-breeding between the native bluebell and the Spanish variety (Hyacinthoides hispanica).
The sheer number of people walking up and down the surfaced trail did detract slightly from the sense of enchantment which is usually felt when walking through majestic woodland. That eerie quiet just wasn’t there, but head just off the beaten track in these vast woods and you are alone again, the balance righted.
It turns out the masses were on to a good thing. The Bluebells are truly stunning. There is a short window of opportunity to visit a Bluebell wood in full bloom and experience Britain’s iconic countryside image for yourself. The Woodland Trust have even launched a free app this year; Nature Detectives Family Trail App. The Nature Detectives Family Trail is available in 25 woods across the UK. The app is designed for children aged three and upwards. Point your phone or tablet camera at the trail marker and take part in the Challenge.
I’d say a trip to the woods at this time of year is well worth it, and of course our trip wasn’t complete with out a cuppa whilst sat in the van, in the car park!