Monday 21 April 2008

A woodland bluebell walk

Tiptoe gently through the bluebells, for if you shake one it will ring out with a sound that only fairies can hear. And if you wade through a mass of blue flowers on the woodland floor you will summon an angry mob and set off spells they have hung among them, for the fairies do not like to be disturbed.

At least, that is what the folk tales say. It is good advice, even if you don't believe in fairies. Bluebells suffer badly from being trampled upon. In heavily trodden places, next year's plants will be sparse and straggly. Picking the flowers can also weaken the plants, so it is a good idea to leave bluebells alone and stick to the paths if you go for a bluebell walk.

I took advantage of a sunny few hours yesterday afternoon to visit Arlington Bluebell Walk, in East Sussex.

Arlington Bluebell Walk is in managed private woodland and offers eight walks covering woodlands, fields, riverbanks and farms. It is a great conservation project and raises money for charities including Relate, the RSPB and various local projects. There is also a tearoom, small farmers' market and charity bookshop.

The woods are a carpet of blue flowers at the moment, although they aren't fully out yet. They normally flower for just a few weeks in late April and early May. If you fancy a bluebell walk this spring then visit Arlington next weekend or over the early May bank holiday and you should see them at their best.

Arlington Bluebell Walk and Farm Trail is open daily from 10am to 5pm until May 7. It is at Bates Green Farm, Tye Hill Road, Arlington, near Polegate, East Sussex, BN26 6SH. Tel 01323 485151. Entrance is £3.50 for adults. The website is:

For information about bluebell folklore, visit:

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