One of the best times to visit Holne Wood in Dartmoor National Park is bluebell season. In mid to late May you can catch the forest floor interspersed with delicate blue flowers. Here are some tips on how to find the best spots and what else to consider before donning your hiking shoes.
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How to Get to Holne Woods
A drive from the centre of Buckfastleigh takes roughly 13 minutes and will lead you along Oaklands Road. You can park close by the medieval bridge New Bridge, which dates back to 1413. There is a parking lot.
If you don’t have access to a car like I did (or don’t want to take a taxi), you can combine public transport and walking. Hop on bus 88 or X38 to Buckfastleigh near Buckfast Abbey. Then walk northwestwards past Hembury Woods for 90 minutes.
There are some lanes across fields to escape from the narrow country roads. Cars in Dartmoor are quite fast and it’s often hard to be spotted well in advance as the hedges around the roads are rather high and dense. So always look out for the signs pointing to “public footpath” or “public bridleway”.
I used the free app maps.me to find the meadow lanes and forest paths. It worked so much better than Google Maps and can be used offline if you download it in advance.
What’s special about Holne Wood?
England is covered by only 13% woodland, so finding such beautifully preserved woodland is a golden ticket. Dartmoor National Park is mostly moor landscape. This is your chance of being surrounded by shady trees. Perfect especially on hot summer days!
You can follow River Dart and really soak up the fresh forest air among ancient oaks. Along the way are a few cascades as well and birdwatchers may be lucky enough to spot the pied flycatcher.
You can get up on the moors from here as well. Just be prepared for a steep climb. One option is to walk over to White Wood and then up to Bench Tor.
Where to Find Bluebells
I didn’t explore the entire forest but one of the main spots for bluebells in Devon’s Holne Woods is towards the entrance near New Bridge. Just walk down the path and you will already see patches of the blue blossoms near the dead hedges lining the forest path.
At the road fork, follow the other path back for a bit and you get to see even more bluebells. It’s basically the same bluebell spots but from another side. They appear much denser here!
The spring flowers growing here are native British bluebells, not the Spanish kind. If you visit on a warm afternoon, their scent is much more intense.
There are a few smaller trails towards the river and across a small canal. You can spot a tiny cascade within the river from here. If you are keen on cycling or running, I’ve found some nice routes here.
Other than that, I’d advise you to stick to the main path to not put such a strain on nature. You are in a national park, after all, and the riverbed is continually eroding to a serious degree.
What to Keep in Mind
You are walking in a national park. Therefore, stick to the path, keep your rubbish with you, don’t pick flowers and don’t approach any wildlife you see. (Or upset cows and sheep. If you have a dog with you, please leash it – especially during lambing season.)
Rambling through nature, it’s likely you might pick up an unwanted hitchhiker. Ticks here are common and you need to get them out safely fast. Use a special tick teezer or tick remover card to firmly jank the tick out. Have it as close to our skin and around the tick’s head as possible.
Keep checking the wound over the next 2 weeks for any rashes. And monitor your health as well (signs of flu or a cold). Read more on lyme disease to know what to look for.
If you are uncertain, it’s best to see a doctor. The NHS is free to visit. The nearest hospital with the minor accident ward is in Totnes or Newton Abbot. (I actually had to visit it because I had a tick that was stuck so much!)
Should You Visit?
Holne Wood in Devon are beautiful! I say, if you are in Dartmoor, you should definitely pick at least one wood and have a refreshing walk.
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