Where and when to see bluebells in the Lake District holiday cottages

Where and when to see bluebells in the Lake District

Kim Brough 13 September 2022

The bluebell must be one of the nation’s favourite flowers. Their delicate purple-blue hues and rich scent are a clear sign that spring is here, and woodland floors carpeted with the flower are a quintessentially British sight.

Never one to be outshone, the Lake District boasts some truly spectacular bluebell displays that visitors come back to admire time and time again.

The best time to see bluebells in the Lake District is in early May, though you will see smaller displays in late April and late May too. Here are our favourite places to admire bluebells in the national park; come back to admire them time and time again!

Note: The native British bluebell is beautiful but delicate. Because it’s slow to grow, trampling and picking them can cause numbers to drop significantly. It is also illegal to harvest wild bluebell bulbs. 

To protect these wondrous displays, please remember to look, not touch. Stick to designated paths and do your part to save this gorgeous bloom.

Lake District cottages for May half term

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Rannerdale Valley, Crummock

Rannerdale Valley, Crummock

We have to start our list with one of the most famous places to see bluebells in the Lake District: Rannerdale, near Crummock Water and Buttermere.

Apart from the incredible display, bluebells in this area are quite the rarity, making this valley famous. The open hillside is not the stereotypical woodland location of bluebells, but the presence of this particular flower here does indicate that trees once covered the valley. Nowadays, the flowers can be seen far and wide in front of stunning views down towards Crummock Water and Mellbreak.

There’s some myth and mystery here too: legend suggests this hidden valley was one of the last seats of resistance against the Norman invaders. The bluebells are said to have sprung up from the blood spilt during the Battle of Rannerdale! All is peaceful and quiet now though and the Rannerdale bluebells are a sight to behold against the craggy outline of Rannerdale Knott. 

Cottages near Buttermere

Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass

Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass

The gardens of Muncaster Castle are an absolute joy to visit at any time of year. Discover double the delight in May, when you can admire their famous collection of colourful rhododendrons as well as the magical bluebell woods. You’ll find the purple flower in the high woodlands above the castle, but you can also easily enjoy a day of wandering through the varied gardens of the estate.

Cottages in Ravenglass

Loughrigg Terrace, Grasmere

Loughrigg Terrace, Grasmere

Loughrigg Terrace is a path that runs along the side of Loughrigg Fell and boasts a good viewpoint to head to as part of a walk around Grasmere or Rydal Water.

Bluebell season is a great time to visit as you can see vast swathes of colour flowing down the fellside towards the water! Benches along the path provide the perfect rest stop and you can sit and savour the glorious surrounding scenery.

Cottages in Grasmere

Cowclose Wood, Witherslack

Close up of bluebells

Next to the gorgeous Whitbarrow National Nature Reserve in the South Lakes is a small woodland called Cowclose Wood. Though on private land, there is a public footpath that passes through it. In April and May, when the bluebells flower, you can walk along this path and enjoy the dappled spring light putting on a magnificent show. It’s perfect for a short and peaceful evening wander.

White Moss, Rydal

Rydal WaterPhoto credit: Cumbria Tourism

Rydal Water is often overlooked for its more famous cousin, Grasmere, but the diminutive lake has a lot to offer, including delightful bluebell woods on its west shore. A walk through here makes you feel as if the fairies could be at play just around the corner! Park up at the handy car park and then continue your walk around the two small lakes for a delightful afternoon in the central Lake District.

Holme Wood, Loweswater

Close up of bluebells

One of the lesser visited of the Lake District lakes, Loweswater is nonetheless a gorgeous spot to stop off if you’re on the hunt for bluebells. Holme Wood stretches along the south-east shore and is a delightful gem of hidden waterfalls, ancient trees and - of course - picture-perfect bluebells! You’ll instantly feel at peace once you step beneath the high canopy.

Cottages in Loweswater

River Brathay, near Skelwith Bridge

River Brathay, near Skelwith Bridge

Take a walk along the River Brathay, near Skelwith Bridge, for some wonderful Lake District bluebell sightings amongst ancient woodland. You can see large swathes of the flower in this idyllic setting in the Langdale Valley, where you’re surrounded by fells.  It’s an incredibly picturesque location and we guarantee you won’t want to leave!

Cottages in Skelwith Bridge

Dorothy Farrer's Spring Wood, Staveley

Close up of bluebells

Managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust, this upland oak woodland consists of three separate areas: High Wood, Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood and Beddard’s Wood. Bluebells, wild garlic, early purple orchids and the scarcer herb-Paris create a glorious array of colour and scent in spring.

Being off the beaten track, Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood is a little more secluded than some of the more popular areas. But it’s only a short drive to Staveley from both Windermere and Kendal, and well worth it for these impressive floral displays!

Cottages near Staveley

Brandelhow Woods, Derwentwater

View from Brandelhow Woods, Derwentwater

Leave your car at home and, instead, hop on a launch from Keswick to sail across Derwentwater to Low Brandelhow or High Brandelhow landings. From here, you can walk right on into Brandelhow Woods and enjoy the sights and smells of this delightful Lake District bluebell wood. This is the home of the National Trust’s first-ever property but, despite that, is often overlooked by visitors. On the quieter side of Derwentwater, the woodland is the ideal escape for seekers of solitude.

Cottages in Keswick

Low Wood, Wasdale

A dog near some bluebells

Most people heading to Wasdale plan a hike up England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike. However, if you’re ambitions aren’t quite so high (literally and metaphorically), then you can discover the delights of the valley instead. At Low Wood, you’ll find an amazing carpet of bluebells reaching around the trees. It’s perfect for a short, gentle walk.

Cottages in Wasdale

Skelghyll Woods, Ambleside

Skelghyll Woods, Ambleside

Outside the pretty Lake District town of Ambleside is Skelghyll Woods. Paths climb past the trees and bluebells to the viewpoint above Jenkin Crag, where you can look back and admire a full-length view of Windermere.

The ground is jam-packed with dainty dancing bluebells in May and the heady aroma adds an additional delight to your walk.

Cottages in Ambleside

Self-catering cottages in the Lake District

After all this walking and taking in the blue beauty of the Lakes, you may want to rest your head on an equally floral pillow. Luckily, we have an excellent collection of Lakeland self-catering cottages. Click the button to start your search.

Lake District cottages for May half term

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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