2015 was the year that the Oxford Junior Dictionary removed the words bluebell and conker from its dictionary. A child may only have the luxury of running through scented bluebell woods in ancient forests for just a few fleeting days of the year, but doesn’t such a rich experience away from the mundane stay with them for the rest of the year, and their lives? When they learn to write and compose their stories, won’t some of those be set amongst the bells that were long ago called witches’ thimbles?
We had an amazing time weaving through the paths of the ancient Langley Wood which is a small part of the 858 acres that make up the UK’s newest native Heartwood Forest. It’s located just outside St Albans and listed by Countryfile as one of the Top 5 Bluebell Woods in the UK.
The Violet Carpet
Bluebells are delicate, part of the reason they are a protected species, and you have to make sure you don’t trample them or sit on them as they can take a few years to recover and flower once more. We contrasted their sweet honey smell with the white musky wood anemones that were also out. One way to tell English Bluebells apart from their Spanish cousins is their perfume, the Spanish ones have no scent.
Tucked inside one of the many dens in the wood, we read the brilliant and beautifully illustrated Bog Baby, who lives in a bluebell wood. We watched as butterflies dipped into delicate bells for a creamy white pollen feast, and as we left thought about how later in the evening the fairies would ring their bells, inviting their friends into that ancient space to dance and spin.
More info on Heartwood Forest
Heartwood Forest is located either side of the B651 between Sandridge and Wheathampstead Village and 2.5 miles north of St Albans City Centre in Hertfordshire.There’s a brown tourist sign from the main road that will direct you into the car park.