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Alarm bells ringing for Rannerdale bluebells

If a bluebell’s leaves are crushed they die back, as the leaves cannot photosynthesise to feed the plant. (photo Andrew Dewhurst)

EVERY Spring an indigo carpet unfolds in Rannerdale valley, Crummock Water thanks to 40 years of sensitive management by farmer Raymond Beard with the support of landowner and conservation charity the National Trust.

But this sea of native bluebells, a remnant of ancient woodland, is under threat states National Trust ranger Paul Delaney.

In the last four years the charity and their tenant farmer estimate that nearly 25% of the bluebells has been lost through trampling by visitors who don’t stick to the footpaths.

If a bluebell’s leaves are crushed they die back, as the leaves cannot photosynthesise to feed the plant. It can take the bluebell years to recover explains the National Trust.

Visitors enjoying and respecting the spectacular bluebells at Rannerdale (photo Andrew Dewhurst)

So, as the bluebells come into bloom in the next few weeks, the National Trust is asking people to keep off them, respecting the signs and roped off areas and sticking to the paths to ensure the very thing they come to see is not lost forever.

“Let’s ensure the bluebells are here for future generations” says Paul Delaney.

“Thanks to Elaine and Raymond Beard there is a very special and important collection here. Raymond is a keen conservationist and farms with nature; he will soon turn 80 and remains a great guardian of the Rannerdale bluebells.

“The display attracts visitors from far and wide as they now grow in the open, rather than in a wood. We think they were established when the area was covered in small trees like crab apple and hawthorn.

“We are asking people to fight the urge to ‘get in’ amongst these flowers and simply stick to the path. I estimate that each time a person steps on the bluebells they crush seven to 10 plants. Let’s all be responsible for protecting the wildlife and the landscape for future generations” adds Paul Delaney.

Almost half of the world’s bluebells are found in the UK and it can take as long as five to seven years for them to establish from seed to flowering.

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