29 Apr 2015

The Beautiful Bluebell Woods of Buckinghamshire

A few years ago I discovered the most glorious bluebell woods near where I grew up. My parents then moved - only a few miles down the road - but it made visiting these woods more of an effort. I finally got round to doing so yesterday, by combining it with a visit catching up with an old friend and neighbour. I almost don't want to advertise the name of the woods as they're so beautiful I just want to keep the spot to myself!

Before I visited there I also spent some time capturing the bluebells in Lane Woods, behind where my parents now live, just up the hill from the Chess Valley in Little Chalfont. My first walk in the woods was with my mother and dog, so it wasn't convenient to set the tripod up and spend much time taking photos (my mother is patient, but the dog is extremely impatient), so I just jacked up the ISO and kept the aperture wide. It was a lovely walk, giving me a chance to scope out a few spots for early the following morning. The bluebells were looking far more profuse than last year. The skies were overcast, so there was no late afternoon sun pouring through the trees to light up the purple flowers. The fields nearby were full of ever-expanding lambs bleating away. We saw a couple of massive deer in the distance, darting off as they heard us. Beautiful crepuscular rays poured down over poplar trees as we headed home.

The following morning sun was forecast, so I checked the TPE app to see where the sun would rise and at what time. It was a horrifically early 5.40am, from the far side of the woods, so I set my alarm for 5.25am - the earliest I'd got up in a long time. I got dressed in lots of layers, thankful I'd brought my hat and had a long down coat of my mum's to borrow - it was bitterly cold out at that time. I headed back to the woods, past the fields of grazing sheep as the sky lightened.

When I reached the woods it was still pretty dark beneath the trees. It is a difficult wood to photograph, as it is hilly, with big dips and hollows off down the hillside and trees and stumps growing haphazardly. The bluebells were closed but still looked stunning. The woods were awash with small patches of new, impossibly green leaves. Eventually the sun began to peak from behind dense trees in the distance, but the light wasn't particularly special. A little fog would have helped no end! 

Soon patches of sun hit the ground, lighting up small patches of bluebells. The air began to warm up a little, but then a chilly breeze arrived, moving the flowers and leaves around. So much for capturing still, sharp shots.

I got to the end of the loop where I'd walked the previous day and headed back, stopping to capture the forest floor now bathed in sunlight.

Eventually I tore myself away, hunger and warmth calling. Later on I went with my parents to visit my friend Adrian's mother in a nearby hospice, and then Adrian and I drove back to Chorleywood for lunch (and a sneaky, nostalgic peak at the house I grew up in). After an emotional catch-up we headed up Shire Lane towards Philipshill Woods. I called my mother, who then came along later, together with my niece, dad and dog, who I was taking back with me to London after my visit. Adrian had a quick walk with the others leaving me to take a few shots of the glorious carpet of bluebells there, which was even better than the previous time. The sun came and went, creating different lighting conditions. I played around with different compositions, lenses, apertures, trying to capture the intensity of the flowers. I was in photographer's heaven!

The others came back and I took a few shots of my niece posing for the camera, something she's very adept at!

My last shot was of Adrian and Henry, who's not very good at posing for the camera. I was sad to leave - I could've spent days there - but it will always be there, with the promise of bluebells beckoning.


  1. A beautiful collection of images, Sophie. Looks like a wonderful way to spend the day, too.

    1. Thanks Sarah! It's one of my favourite things about the English countryside. I could never live somewhere without seasons - each one brings something new and special :)