Best bluebell walks in Hants & IoW
Blooming 'eck! Here's where to find the best local bluebell walks, plus our pick of nearby pubs with gardens for a cheeky pitstop.
What’s a sure sign that it’s finally Spring? Finally retiring your thermal vest, yes. But more excitingly, it’s the arrival of bluebell season. We’re so lucky to have the most incredible number of bluebell woods in Hants and IoW – and all with great pubs in the neighbourhood. Fingers crossed the drinks will keep flowing now the pubs have reopened but these stunning fields of blue will only last a few weeks. So, chop chop!
Roydon Woods, Nr Brockenhurst
A relatively recent addition to the Hampshire landscape, Roydon Woods was gifted to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust in 1978. On your stroll around here, you may be able to see evidence of ancient settlers dotted around. Located just less than 2 miles outside of Brockenhurst, it has a range of walks available. It’s worth noting there’s no car park around here, though there’s some roadside parking if you hunt around.
Pit Stop: The Hare and Hound in Sway has a nice outdoor garden reopening this April. It’s about 6 minutes away by car.
Hinton Ampner, nr Winchester
One thing that the National Trust do well is bluebells – in fact, Hinton Ampner in Winchester is just the first of several NT properties on this list. To make the most of their stunning carpet of ‘bells, you can pick up a map from the site and stroll for about 30 minutes to find these hidden beauties.
Pit Stop: The family-friendly Hinton Arms with its well-tended, flowery pub garden is reopening in April. It’s a mere 3-minute drive from the NT property.
Manor Farm Country Park, Southampton
At Manor Farm, you can discover the bluebells while also getting to pet all the adorable animals. As well as the farm, there’s a Blacksmiths Forge, play areas and much more. Pre-booking essential.
Pit Stops: Reopening in April, The Plough at nearby Bursledon has a huge sunny garden and is less than 15 minutes’ drive away. Or tootle 2.8 miles down the road to The Jolly Sailor in Burlesdon. The traditional mariner pub has great views over Hamble Marina. You’ll have to wait a little longer though as it reopens on 20 May.
Upperford Copse, Nr Wickham
Upperford Copse is just outside of Wickham. It has a number of strolls to choose from, such as the super leisurely West Walk. With car parking on-site, a bookable BBQ pit (and the fact Muddy once saw Hugh Bonneville here), it’s a fab little meander around the forest.
Pit Stop: Super quirky with plenty of car parking outside and a courtyard garden, The Square Cow in Wickham, is just 1.9 miles away. It’s open for pre-booked tables from 16 April.
Exbury Gardens, near Southampton
This country park is a whopping 200 acres of family fun and natural beauty to poke about in. As well as the beautiful natural bluebells that pop out at this time of year, it’s also home to the Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, rare trees and shrubs. There’s even a mini train if you don’t fancy plodding around too much.
Pit Stop: Less than 15 minutes drive away, the gorgeous Master Builders in Bucklers Hard, Beaulieu, is reopening in April. As a bonus, it’s got a heated marquee and restaurant terrace overlooking the river. Opening in May and just 3.5 miles away is Monty’s Inn, the cosy country pub that’s part of the Montagu Arms.
Micheldever Woods, Winchester
Hampshire’s bluebells are synonymous with Micheldever Woods, just 5 miles away from Winchester. With a car park at the entrance of the wood as well as a picnic site, it’s the perfect spot to check out that big blue carpet.
Pit Stop: Just 15 minutes away by car is the super cosy Woolpack Inn at Totford. They’re reopening in April for tables on the outdoor terrace.
Itchen Valley Country Park, nr Eastleigh
Who knew the woods could be so jam-packed with things to do? With the obvious bluebell walk, Itchen Valley Country Park (5 miles away from Southampton) is also home to a Go Ape! course. Plus there’s wellbeing walks, Forest therapy, woodland playgrounds and numerous trails to explore.
Pit Stops: Muddy’s top pick in the area is the gorgeous Hiltonbury Farmhouse in nearby Chandler’s Ford, with heated outdoor seating and a cracking pub menu. Serving simple food (cooked outdoors when it reopens in April), the Master Builder pub at Swaythling is also close by and worth a visit.
Durley Mill, Botley
With a Grade II listed watermill and millhouse, Durley Mill is just 7 miles away from Southampton and offers a real snapshot into how life ‘used to be’. With their beautiful bluebells in bloom through April and May, and heritage buildings to explore it’s a great spot that’s not too far from civilisation.
Pit Stop: The family-friendly Cricketers Inn in nearby Curdridge has a huge pub garden is reopening from 12 April. Reopening in May, The Robin Hood is a ten-minute drive from the Mill. It’s a quaint countryside pub with bags of character.
The Vyne, nr Basingstoke
A year-round NT favourite, the Vyne is always a Spring stonker. The bluebell walk is a simple 1.3 miler and the grounds also offer up daffodils and cherry blossom for a bit of extra colour.
Pit Stop: Opening in April, the 17th Century White Hart in Sherfield on Loddon is less than ten minutes’ drive away. Importantly, it has great grub and a gorgeous gin garden with heated stretch tent overlooking the village green.
Zebon Copse, Church Crookham
Unusually named and unusually beautiful, Zebon Copse in the ancient settlement of Church Crookham offers some fab displays of that Springtime fave. You can also take a trek down the nearby Basingstoke Canal and enjoy all the sights and sounds of Hampshire in the Spring.
Pit Stop: Opening in April, The Exchequer in neighbouring Crookham with sizeable patio is just 1.2 miles away.
Broomy Inclosure, New Forest
Brilliant name, brilliant bluebells. With a range of walks starting at around 3 miles at a leisurely pace, you will be treated to a sea of flowers along with the creatures of the New Forest.
Pit Stop: Reopening on April 15, the High Corner Inn is right by the entrance to the inclosure.
A juxtaposed world of engineering and the natural world can be found up at Hollycombe. While you hunt down the elusive floral bluebell carpet you can also enjoy the rides at the steam-driven fairground. Toddlers and teens alike will be enthused with trains and other retro vehicles.
Pit Stop: Worth checking out is The Deer’s Hut (reopening in April) with heated terrace marquees, just 3 miles along the road in nearby Griggs Green.
ISLE OF WIGHT
Mottistone Gardens, Newport
Another National Trust beauty – and this one is on the Island. Located just off the Military Road on the B3399 (an absolutely breathtaking area in itself), is Mottistone Gardens and Estate. This spot, 8 miles away from Newport, boasts hillsides covered in bluebell carpets and a view across the Channel.
Pit Stop: Just half a mile away is the beautiful The Sun Inn (reopening in April). 7 miles in the other direction is the White Mouse Inn, complete with an amazing view of The Needles. It’s set to reopen in May – but might open sooner if the Island sees a sunny April.
Robin Hill, Newport
Everybody’s favourite country park on the Isle of Wight is scattered with woodlands and tucked away little spots to discover bluebells. There’s also lots to do with the kids while you’re here with their toboggan run and nature-themed attractions.
Pit Stop: Reopening in May, there’s the charming thatched Hare and Hounds literally on the doorstep of Robin Hill. One mile down the road, it’s worth dropping into the characterful Dairyman’s Daughter (reopening in April) and exploring the quirky Arreton Barns.
America Wood nr. Apse Heath
Just outside of Shanklin is America Wood. There’s a rumour that this place was named as they used the wood to build ships for the American War of Independence, but its a bit unfounded. Amongst the trees and the bluebells here, you’ll also be able to find wild badgers and more of the Island’s famous Red Squirrel population.
Pit Stop: You’ll need to head towards the coast for somewhere to grab a drink, but thankfully the Grade II listed Fisherman’s Cottage, located under Shanklin Chine, is just 2.5 miles away and has an amazing view.
Each year when we write about bluebell hotspots we receive a flurry of messages about the ones we’ve forgotten. Have I finally nailed a comprehensive list this year, I wonder? Please let me know if there are any omissions!