Fairy Glen is situated off Sparrow Hill (A5209) Appley Bridge, Lancashire.
The waters of Sprodley Brook have, over time cut down through the underlying sandstone to form the steep valley of Fairy Glen complete with cliff faces and waterfalls.
The area has been designated a Biological Heritage Site for its ancient woodland of oak, birch, ash and alder. In the spring the woodland floor is covered in bluebells, wild garlic and red campion.
I went there to photograph the bluebells which are at least a month late coming into bloom this year. At first I thought I was going to be disappointed as only a few were in bloom but as I descended into the valley things got better. I found a sunny glade where the flowers were all out. Time to reach for my camera.
Hyacinthoides non-scripta, the common bluebell
Bluebells are associated with deciduous woodland where they flower early before the canopy closes in late spring. These were definitely the English variety, H. non-scripta. They had dark flowers in one sided nodding racemes, with strongly recurved petals and white pollen. The flowers are strongly and sweetly scented.
A related species, Hyacinthoides hispanica, the Spanish Bluebell has been introduced to the British Isles and hybridises with Hyacinthoides non-scripta to produce hybrids known as H. massartiana.
H. hispanica can be differentiated from the English Bluebell because it has paler flowers produced on all sides of an upright stem. It has less recurved petals, produces blue pollen and is less strongly scented.
It was a lovely peaceful afternoon with just the humming of bees and the tinkling of water for company. Perfect.