Lets go and look at the bluebells in Wanstead, I said on Sunday. My enthusiastic suggestion was met with little more than a grunt from the dog and a look from my other half which said ‘do we really have to’. I don’t blame them for being reluctant, it was cold, grey, and damp outside, not the best weather for a jaunt across Wanstead flats. But I persisted, and realising I wasn’t going to shut up, my other half admitted defeat, put the dog on his lead, and the three of us headed out in to the gloom to go exploring.
The journey to Wanstead park is dead easy. Jump on the train at Queens Road, less than ten minutes later get off the train at Wanstead Park Station. It’s a pretty nice walk from the station to the park, even on a cold blustery day. Simpy point yourself towards the steeple of St Gabriels Church, and take a gentle meander over the gorse dotted flats. Cross the road in to Aldersbrook, and before long the boundary of the park rises up to meet you like a wall of green. Buildings and tarmac roads are suddenly stopped in their tracks by ancient woodland. The change from urban London to forest is instant, and spectacular.
Chalet Wood is just a short stroll from the boundary of the park. Walk past the lake and turn left in to the trees at the city of London sign. At first there’s no indication of what’s to come, the old tree’s and undergrowth of the Epping Forest keep their treasure hidden from view. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were going the wrong way, but then, up ahead, you catch a glimpse of colour, a sort of purple blue haze in amongst the trees. Sporadic clumps of bluebells begin to increase in numbers, and then suddenly they join forces to create an army of flowers that stretches as far as you can see.
Entering the centre of Chalet Wood, the view is simply breathtaking. The flowers are so tightly packed you don’t see individual plants, just a carpet of blue. It looks like some kind of fantastical mist, undulating over the woodland floor, wrapping the tree roots in a beautiful haze of colour. It really is spectacular, even on a cold grey day. One benefit of visiting the bluebells on a cold day was that it wasn’t that busy. Usually there are throngs of people photographing the bluebells from every angle. But on Sunday only a few brave souls had braved the cold to visit the magical dell of Wanstead.
Having wandered amongst the bluebells we walked to Wanstead tube station, got the Central Line to Leyton, and wen to the Leyton Star for a roast (which was cracking), then got the 158 bus back to E17. What better way to spend an afternoon, a walk to see the natural beauty of the Wanstead bluebells followed by a pub a lunch, and all within a 15 minute ride from home on public transport. If you fancy doing the same, be quick, bluebells season is coming to an end. Find out more here
Beautiful photos – I used to love walking in the woods to see the bluebells in spring when I lived in the countryside. Unfortunately since I moved to the city, there isn’t one within a decent distance.