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In another time and another place there would be nothing quite like a leisurely spring walk to blow away the cobwebs, and what could be a better way than to frolic through England's elegant and oh-so pretty bluebell woods?
More than half of the world's bluebell woods are found in the UK, which paint our landscapes in a carpet of bright purple-blue for a short period in April and May. So, although you can't dust off your walking shoes at the moment, we've picked nine of the prettiest bluebell walks to set your heart aflutter from the comfort of your living room.
They have been arranged in alphabetical order according to county:
Snug within 400 acres of Berkshire parkland, the historic and elegant Basildon House is first on our list. This 18th century stately home was restored by Lord and Lady Liffe in the 1950s and opened to the public. Among the rolling hills of Basildon Park there are gorgeous nature trails framed by an abundance of bluebells and daffodils.
To find out more, visit the Basildon Park website.
Some of the ancient trees within this nature reserve are more than 1,000 years old, giving a sense of historic majesty to your bluebell wanderings. Come April, the floor ignites the valleys and copses of oaks, chestnuts and hornbeams with a riot of bluebells and other wild flowers - a prime example of how grateful we should be that these British blooms have been protected by folk law and park trusts alike, so we can enjoy them spring after spring.
To find out more, visit the Blakes Wood website.
Another spot on our bluebell bucket list has to be the Arlington Bluebell walk in East Sussex. Since 1972, this stretch of farmland has attracted people from far and wide with its glorious spring show of bluebells. Catch these iconic British blooms at their best from early April and be transported by an enchanting sea of blue.
To find out more, visit the Arlington Bluebell Walk website.
Under a large maturing beech wood, with some pockets of mature conifer, you'll be greeted by a lush carpet of bluebells, almost as far as the eye can see. This 621 acre site, managed by the Forestry Commission, puts on a dazzling display every spring. Visit early in the morning when the mist is rising to experience it at its magical best.
To find out more, see our post on Micheldever Wood.
If you're looking for fairytale woodlands, this estate has played the role of enchanted forest in a number of onscreen appearances and its easy to see why. Just 30 miles outside London, the estate encompasses 5,000 acres of vast meadows and beach and oak woodlands riddled with a maze of footpaths and bridleways. Renowned for its bluebell season, here you'll find rows of tall trees enrobed in an intense bluebell mantle.
To find out more, visit the Ashridge Estate website.
The most famous botanical gardens in the world, Kew is a wonderful place to see bluebells, especially if you live in London and don't have a car to get out and about. The managers of Kew have deliberately set aside 37 acres of land to be left in as wild a state as possible, and this is where you will find a pretty woodland walk that erupts into a magnificent blue carpet of native bluebells (and wild garlic) every April and May.
To find out more, visit the Kew Gardens website.
Set in the rolling hills of the Chilterns, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, lies another estate primed for a spectacular spring view. Greys Court is a 16th century mansion with a patchwork of picturesque walled gardens brimming with spring colour. April begins with a blanket of bluebells on the grounds, but with more than 1,700 bulbs planted within the gardens there's plenty more blossoms to enjoy on your visit.
To find out more, visit the Greys Court website.
We are quite partial to an arboretum, and this one, managed by the National Trust for some 60 years, features more than 1,000 species of trees and shrubs, many of them rare. Visit at the right time in the spring and you will be treated to a spectacular display of bluebells growing en masse on the hillside in the appropriately named Bluebell Wood. If you're lucky the neighbouring Magnolia Wood may also be in bloom.
To find out more, visit the Winkworth Arboretum website.
There are more than 20 acres of ancient bluebell woods at Standen House and Garden, an Arts and Crafts family home in the care of the National Trust. There are various walking trails to follow, many of which wind their way through a rich carpet of bluebells. Get your timing right and you might also see Standen's famous tulips in bloom at the same time.
To find out more, visit the Standen House and Garden website.
Photograph: Will Russell/Shutterstock.com