It comes quickly, doesn’t it?
One minute you’re plunged in the depths of winter, and then the clocks change, the evenings draw out and every hedge in Devon seems to clatter to the tune of a chiffchaff.
It’s a beautiful time of year indeed, but perhaps the most wonderful sight is the carpet of blue that bedecks the woods, valleys and meadows around Exeter as the bluebells emerge.
The team at Exeter's Real Food Store have pulled together their 5 favourite places to see these magical flowers - scroll down to see the full list.
5 - Stoke Woods
Located just to the North of Exeter, this little gem of a woodland is within walking distance of the city centre - just be careful on the busy Pennsylvania Road. There’s ample parking space for those who prefer to arrive by car.
On the other side of the city, Shillingford Wood lies just south east of Alphington close to the village of Shillingford Abbot. This small broadleaf woodland turns blue in spring. There are plans in place for a community buy-out of the 12-acre site to preserve the land for the benefit of the local community - click here to find out how you can help.
3 - Dunsford Wood
Take the 359 bus towards Moretonhampstead and alight at Steps Bridge to explore this beautiful part of the Teign Valley. There is some space for parking next to the bridge, and plenty of off-road space a few hundred metres up the road on both sides. Access the woods on the east side of the bridge and follow the path next to the river. This is a great spot for daffodils in early spring before the bluebells emerge. Keep an eye out for dippers on the river too.
2 - Blackbury Camp
Situated off the A3052 near Southleigh, Blackbury Camp is the site of a 4th century hillfort and the earthworks are still clearly visible today. Ancient oaks and beeches tower open spaces of bluebells. A great spot for a picnic.
1 - Fire Beacon Hill
Just to the north of Sidford, this was once the site of an Elizabethan fire beacon, part of a chain of such structures stretching from Penzance to London to warn the capital of any Spanish naval manoeuvres taking place off the South West coast. Fire Beacon Hill provides dramatic views west across the pebblebed heaths and, on a clear day, all the way to Dartmoor. There is plenty of parking and a real mix of terrain to enjoy, from open heathland to ancient beech woodland. In spring those woods are full of singing blackcaps. And yes, there are lots and lots of bluebells.
There are no doubt many more great places near Exeter to see these special flowers, testament to how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
If you’re heading out for a picnic, there’s loads of local food on offer at the Real Food Store including freshly made bread, local cheese, Devon-made drinks, sustainable snacks, organic fruit, free-from options and more.
Find the Real Food Store next to Central Station on Queen Street, Exeter, open Mon - Sat 9am - 5pm
You can also have your shopping delivered to your door via their online store, or organise a Click & Collect.
Visit realfoodexeter.co.uk for more information.
Wherever you go to discover bluebells this spring, the team at the Real Food Store wish you a lovely time.