Rannerdale bluebells

Rannerdale bluebells

Route: Rannerdale bluebells

Area: Western Lake District

Date of walk: 7th April 2019

Walkers: Andrew 

Distance: 2.0 miles

Ascent: 200 feet

Weather: cloudy with spots of rain

Today’s walk hardly qualifies as such, and is better described as a stroll. However it’s worth recording in these pages in order to draw attention both to the spectacular Rannerdale bluebells and also to the threat they are under from visitors

Rannerdale is a picturesque valley between Crummock Water and Buttermere and is famous for its bluebells, which are unusual in that they grow on open fellside as opposed to their more usual  woodland habitat. The area is owned by the National Trust, who are the joint guardians of the bluebells along with their tenant farmers

An issue has arisen in recent years, since the display is in decline on account of careless feet. It’s estimated by the Trust that 25% of the plants have been lost in the last 4 years. Every time a person steps on the bluebells they crush 7-10 plants which then cannot photosynthesise. As a result, the plant either dies completely or takes years to recover

I parked in one of the two car parks at Cinderdale Common and headed along the grassy track towards the valley, wondering whether the display would live up to my usual expectations. After 10 minutes or so I reached the gate which leads into the bluebell area and was greeted by the wonderful sight and scent of countless bluebells

The Trust has taken extra precautions this year – areas have been fenced off (very discreetly), and there are signs asking visitors to stick to the main paths and not to trample the plants. I wandered along the valley to the end of the bluebell area and then crossed the footbridge over Squat Beck. The path passes under the steep rocky flanks of Rannerdale Knotts and emerges onto the Buttermere road. From here I walked back along the road to the start. It had been an hour well spent

For a longer low level walk, it’s possible to continue to the head of Rannerdale and then return via Crummock Water (click here), or to ascend Rannerdale Knotts and return via the bluebell area (click here). Whatever route is chosen could I please urge anyone walking in Rannerdale at bluebell time to keep to the main paths. There are plenty of photo opportunities from here, and there’s no need to wander off the paths in search of a better viewpoint, as I hope to demonstrate below…

Click here or on the Map Page icon for the route map

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