A carpet of bluebells bursts into flower in Belgium in a wonder of the natural world -- but one that is at risk of being trampled by tourists drawn to its beauty. For two or three weeks in April the ground of the Hallerbos wood just outside the drab capital of Brussels is transformed into a breathtaking sea of shimmering purple.
The scene is like in a fairytale, we’re still expecting a little elf or witch to appear from nowhere.
Huge swathes of the 555-hectare (1,370-acre) woodland are covered in millions of the delicate purple flowers for as far as the eye can see.
Bluebells have been growing in Hallerbos for centuries, experts say. The forest was largely cut down by the invading German army during World War II but replanted afterwards with beech trees and a few Californian sequoias, and the fresh cover has allowed them to really flourish.
But its growing popularity in recent years comes at a cost. At the weekends, the sheer numbers coming to visit the forest have forced Belgian authorities to set up special parking lots and shuttle buses, with visitors finding themselves among school parties, groups of tourists and photographers lugging their equipment.