Durham’s Bluebell Woods

The Common or English Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) is a popular photo subject but notoriously difficult to capture.  In Durham there are a few options when it comes to seeking them out – here are some places to try.

The trick is to hit the peak of the blooms and that might need several visits. The other thing to bear in mind is that as well as bluebells there are other flowers in season around the same time, including anemones and wild garlic and ferns are staring to unfurl.

Houghall Woods

This is the classic location in Durham for bluebells. Blankets cover the hillside north of the path between grid references NZ276402 and NZ280408; I’ve blogged about this area previously in Macro Shots from Houghall Woods. There are also photos in my galleries, including these ones:

wood woodland path tree beech carpet spring British native flower wild
Bluebell Wood
woodland spring Britain British curve stem sunny flower nature wild

I normally park at NZ287411 and walk in. You’ll also find a great section of wild garlic in the trees next to the parking area.

wild flower spike bud woodland wood leaf foliage smell spring white native British
Wild garlic flower spike


Blaid’s Wood

I haven’t been to Blaid’s Wood for a few years, but have shot bluebells there before.

Durham Blaid's Wood spring deciduous broad-leaf foliage carpet wild flower tree nature
Bluebell Woods

You can walk up from Houghall Woods, but the closest parking spot is a lay-by at NZ267404.

Shincliffe Wood

I haven’t been here during the bluebell “season” but flowers are coming through along the stretch of path between NZ288400 and NZ286393.  Further along towards NZ287390 you’ll also find wild garlic, like this:

Spring Carpet
Spring Carpet


This image was taken in May 2009.  I walked down here about a week ago and it looks as though the garlic is going to be spectacular again this year, if the leaf growth is anything to go by.


Spring is just around the corner.  Bluebells normally bloom around early May around Durham, although the exact timing can depend on the weather during the winter.  So there’s time to scout out the locations beforehand, or just turn up once the flowers bloom and start shooting!