Bluebell walks in Middleton Woods, Ilkley

Beautiful Bluebell Walks

From late April through to the end of May the only walks I want to be doing are bluebell walks. I’m drawn in by the purple hue and just find them mesmerising. This ancient delicate wild-flower is native to woodlands all over the country and we are lucky enough to have some of the best locations in and around Craven. 

If like me, you can’t get enough of this delicate purple flower then please pay them respect. They are incredibly sensitive and if they are damaged by being trodden on they can take 5 years to come back, if at all. The smaller English Bluebell takes 7 years to establish initially from seed so they classed as a protected species. As such it is actually against the law to intentionally destroy them so stick to marked paths and don’t pick them to take home. This way everyone can enjoy them for generations to come.


Here is my selection of walks around Yorkshire that are brimming with bluebells;

Local bluebell walks

Middleton Woods, Ilkley

Middleton Woods in Ilkley, is renowned for the bluebells and is an annual visit for us. The woods that span from the River Wharfe right up past Curly Hill are a brilliant place to explore with bluebells covering the whole of the wood. There are lots of well trodden paths in this wood so go explore. Collect sticks, squelch in the mud, climb the fallen trees, hop across the streams, swing in the rope swing, go have fun! A loose circular of the wood is around a mile but with all the added exploring you may need to take the snack bag, and a change of clothes!

Full walk details here – Middleton Woods, Ilkley 

Oxenber Woods, Austwick

Near Settle you will find Oxenber Woods, a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and a designated ancient woodland. The woods are awash with bluebells at this time of year. To access Oxenber Woods follow Wood Lane up and out of the village of Austwick taking in panoramic views as you go. Keep following the track (not the Pennine bridleway) to get to the entrance. Once in the woods there are handily placed information boards from the Yorkshire Dales National Park, to tell you more about the wonderful wild flowers that you may spot.

Paths are well marked throughout the wood so you have free access to wander through. Find the limestone pavements, peek into the grykes to notice the rare plants, catch sight of Ingleborough in the distance and listen out for the bleeting of the baby lambs in the adjacent fields.  If you want to extend the walk then keep heading uphill towards Wharfe Wood, its neighbour or take a right towards Feizor returning on the Pennine bridleway.

Bluebell woodlands
Bluebell woodlands

Strid Wood, Bolton Abbey

This walk takes you onto the Bolton Abbey Estate but from a new vantage point. Heading into the ancient woods you need to follow the higher path (the red route). This path keeps you way above the popular riverside route. 

On this elevated trail you will be transfixed with the purple carpet of bluebells as well as the dainty white flower of the wild garlic. This oak woodland is a SSSI packed with nature. With the river in the bottom and the sound of bird song this route feels proudly secretive. The undulating path continues to the Strid. This beautifully dangerous tumult is best gazed at from a safe distance however. From here you can return the same way or along the riverside path for a total walk of just over 3 miles.

 Full walk details of Strid Wood and more around the Bolton Abbey estate – Bolton Abbey

Strid Wood, Bolton Abbey

Skipton Woods

Skipton Woods, behind Skipton Castle is a great pram friendly walk. The main route up through the woods following the beck is strewn with wild garlic and the tops are then mixed in with the bluebell blankets… quite the aroma.

There are plenty of paths to take through the woods suited for all abilities so you can make it as long or short as you like. Plus you may even find a geocache or 4!

Full walk details here – Skipton Woods

Skipton woods

Freeholders Wood, Aysgarth

In the north of the Yorkshire Dales National Park lies Freeholders Wood, beside the iconic Aysgarth Falls. However, this ancient Hazel woodland is worth a visit in its own right during the Spring due to the abundance of bluebells that carpet the floor. This nature reserve and SSSI is home to Dormice, Deer and even Red Squirrels. Purple Orchids and Woodland Daisies are also scattered amongst the purple delights.

From the main car park (charges apply), the walk is an accessible route through the woods, alongside the River Ure where the Middle of the Aysgarth Falls can be seen. The route is 1.5 miles in total.

Aysgarth Falls

St Ives, Bingley

St Ives Estate, in Bingley has a lovely small woodland at the bottom of the estate littered with bluebells. There is also the lure of the fabulous playground, recently refurbished, just above which makes this a great free trip out. There are numerous routes to wander around the estate taking in the tarn and view points over Bingley. Most of the routes are accessible with an all terrain buggy too.

Hardcastle Crags, Hebden Bridge

Hardcastle Crags in Hebden Bridge is a National Trust site. The car park is therefore free for members. Bluebells line the woods on the walk down towards Gibson Mill where you will also be rewarded with a café and the lovely sight of the mill and the water. There are lots of walking trails around the woods so you can wander for miles.

Full walk details here – Hardcastle Crags.

Bluebell walks a bit further afield

North Yorkshire

Newton Woods located under Roseberry Topping is high on my list to visit this year. Situated in Newton under Roseberry near Great Ayton on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. What better way to reach the summit of Roseberry Topping than to walk through the bluebells first on this 2 mile walk. Short but challenging it’s the perfect way to work up an appetite for lunch.

West Yorkshire

Newmillerdam in Wakefield is home to the Gnome Roam!

This beautiful wooded country park has something for everyone with lots of paths to explore, the themed trail and of course the bluebell walks around the woods.

Full walk details found here – Newmillerdam

South Yorkshire

Moss Valley woodlands in Sheffield are managed by the Woodland Trust. This ancient woodland is south facing so you can see why the bluebells love it here. That sunlight makes it the perfect place for a picnic. There are plenty of trails through the woodland so you can make your walk as long or as short as you would like.

Ecclesall Woods near Sheffield are another ancient woodland that have a beautiful display of bluebells in the Spring. The area is a local nature reserve. There are over 300 acres to explore so take a picnic or try the café located in the car park.

East Yorkshire

North Cliffe Wood Nature Reserve in Market Weighton is a small reserve with a 3km circular path that meanders around the wood. There is no car park but there are a few road side spaces. The perfect short walk for little ones

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