In search of bluebells
Last weekend we decided to forget about the long lists of chores and baby preparations and work and multiple other demands and instead jump in the campervan and drive out of London in search of Spring bluebells. And as ever, the great outdoors worked its magic, and we returned refreshed and relaxed, calmer about the coming weeks, with tired legs, but happy hearts.
Merrell sent me a pair of their new Siren Sport Q2 shoes to try out and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to put them through their paces. I usually walk in a pair of second hand leather walking boots that my mum donated to me, but with warmer weather, and swollen third trimester preggo feet (sexy I know!), I was interested to see what a less bulky, lighter pair of boots would feel like, and whether they would give me the support and comfort I need.
We chose this National Trust walk, which starts at Toys Hill near Chartwell, tracing the footsteps of National Trust founder, Octavia Hill and passing through the pretty village of Ide Hill and past the Edwardian estate of Emmetts Garden. I don't move too fast these days so we decided to stick to the 4 mile eastern trail, but if you were feeling more energetic you could do the longer 6 mile western trail, either on its own or joined onto the eastern trail, to make a long figure of eight trail. It was a lovely walk, well signposted and easy to follow, with plenty of variation, glorious stretching views over the Weald of Kent and some of the most beautiful bluebell glades I've ever seen.
Happily, despite predictions to the contrary, the weather was mild and springlike and the sun shone for most of the day, bathing the Kent countryside in a soft warm green glow, with a hazy horizon melting into the distance. Moments from the starting point of the walk, we came across a sunlit glade of bluebells, messy with shadows and light, nestling around a single tree, in a quiet clearing. We stopped for a moment to take them in, enjoying the warm sunshine on our bodies, reminding ourselves of the delicate loveliness of the bluebell flowers, with their gently bobbing heads, and soft scent.
The wildflowers were out in force, filling every verge and hedgerow with messy colour - pinky-lilac Spanish bluebells, leggy cow parsley, bushy forget-me-not, wood anemone, stitchwort, cowslip and yellow archangel. Above us, we spotted the last of the blossom, and the first of the lilac coming into bloom, its fragrance heady and sweet.
We wound our way through Scord's Wood and then onto the village of Ide Hill, with its wonderful views and pretty sloping village green, stopping on the way for our sandwiches and cocoa at the edge of a field, with lush rolling pastureland stretching down below us.
After passing through a patch of damp woodland, crisscrossed with streams and dense with pungent wild garlic, we ascended towards Emmetts Garden, an Edwardian National Trust property with a colourful flower-filled garden and pretty tea room. But the most wonderful discovery was waiting for us before we got there - a cool tranquil stretch of woodland carpeted with thick bluebells, disappearing into the distance in a magical blue haze, splattered with shards of sunlight and fragments of shadows thrown by the leafy canopy above.
I'm so glad that we made the effort to go in search of them - there is something totally enchanting, and quintessentially British about the sight of them, flocked together in droves, like a beautiful ancient rug, stretching out across woodlands all over the country. I love the tradition of spending a day out walking in search of them, and the magic when you come across them. We saw lots of children on our walk, who were all completely mystified and astonished by them, and it made me think that children for centuries have probably been happening upon them and reacting in the exact same way - which is a comforting thought, somehow. I can't wait to take our own little one to find them at some point in the future.
The walk took us around 4-5 hours but we did make lots of stops, and Raoul had to wait for me on the uphill stretches as I was going very slowly! If you were more focused (and/or less pregnant) you could easily do it in 2-3 hours. We didn't stop at Emmetts Garden but it looked like a very pleasant place for a pit-stop, and we might try to go back there to properly explore at some point. As for my Merrell shoes, I can honestly say that they were a joy to wear and kept my feet very happy all day. They are lightweight which I really appreciated given the additional weight I'm currently carrying, and they are a lot more breathable than my leather walking boots, meaning that my feet stayed relatively cool all day. They were very supportive and for most of the walk I forgot I was even wearing them, which is exactly how walking boots should be! I was slightly concerned that I wouldn't like the look of them, but actually they are neutral and slimline, which is important to me, as I'm not really into brightly coloured walking gear, and usually just walk in leggings and a shirt over a t-shirt.
Have you been on a hunt for bluebells this year? I'd love to hear about it if you have! And if anyone has any other recommendations for seeing them near to South East London, please let me know!
This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Merrell, but all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. For more information please go to www.merrell.com/uk