Spring is finally on its way to Europe! Just a few days to go before the season officially arrives, bringing with it warmer weather and a variety of flora and fauna. One lovely way to take make to most of the season and the beautiful blooms of this time of year is a visit to Hallerbos, the Belgian forest known for its magical carpet of bluebells, so much so it is nick named ‘The Blue Forest’.
Hallerbos is an ancient forest and the most important and extensive forest area between the Senne River and the Sonian Forest. The carpet of bluebells which bloom each year and the giant Sequoia trees make it a popular place to visit, and given its beauty it is no wonder.
Bluebells are of course not the only flower to be found in these woods; bright white wood anemones and yellow star-shaped lesser celandine can also be seen at certain times, as well as wild daffodils, Solomon’s seal, yellow archangel and sweet scented bedstraw. But it is the the bluebells that steal the show.
The spring flowers bring different phases of bloom and colour to the forest throughout the season, and because of variations in the weather the bluebells do not bloom at the same time every year. Years back May 1st used to be the peak time for the bluebells, however this hasn’t been the case for several years now, with the beech trees already fully in leaf on May 1st. It is always worth checking the website before you visit, as a look here any time from the end of March onwards will show you which flowers are blooming and when.
The seven to ten days following the blossoming of the beech tree leaves are seen as the most impressive, as the purple blue of the bluebells combines with the transparent bright green of the young beech leaves to give a magical effect to the forest. Plenty of light is still reaching the forest floor and the flowers thrive, before turning a more grey blue as the fully leafed trees darken the wood. Just the thought of standing in the woods surrounded by fresh greens and brilliant blues certainly feels soothing!
The best way to explore the Hallerbos is with the free walking map, and there are three marked hiking loops (yellow, blue and white/black) within the forest. If you wish to learn more about the area you can also take one of the many free open walks with a nature guide who will provide much more detail, or take a look at the Forest Museum.
Hallerbos is located around 45 minutes to an hour south west of Brussels, and can be reached by both public transport and car, with parking available. Further information can be found here.