If you're looking for somewhere special to visit in the Lake District, in May, then Rannerdale is always a favourite with locals and visitors alike. At this time of year, the mountainside is awash with fragrant bluebells as far as the eye can see.
Sometimes referred to as the "Secret Valley", Rannerdale Valley is also a place of myths and legends. Folklore has it that the Normans were ambushed here and defeated by Cumbrians and Norsemen in the 50 years that followed the 1066 Norman invasion. This was referred to by Nicholas Size (local historian and publican) as the Battle of Rannerdale. The tale enfolds that the blanket of bluebells are said to have sprung up from the spilt blood of the defeated Norman warriors.
How to get there? Access is via the B5289 from Cockermouth; a winding road which hugs the edge of Crummock Water en route to Buttermere. Parking is available at Hause Point car park, Rannerdale which is a small parking area that accommodates approximately 6 cars (Grid Ref NY 163 184) It's best to get there early, as it's a popular destination when the bluebells are in full bloom. Other parking places are dotted along the roadside.
Access to the valley is a short walk from the top of the car park. From there, you'll find a pleasant short walk in the valley alongside a stream, where the bluebells can be viewed. There are plenty of photograph opportunities, or you can find a rock to sit on and just soak up the wonderful view and the fragrance of the flowers. The children also enjoy playing around in the stream, and looking out for the little waterfalls and the occasional Herdwick sheep.
If you are feeling more adventurous, there is a pleasant three mile walk from Buttermere that also takes in the Rannerdale Valley. You can find out more details on the National Trust website here.
~ Bluebells are native to Western Europe, although it is estimated that half of the world's bluebells grow in the UK.
~ Bluebells, in conjunction with other plant species, are often considered to be an indicator of ancient woodlands.
~ Bluebells are a plant species that is protected under UK law by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).
~ Bluebells are poisonous to animals and humans. Ingestion of any part of the plant can cause an array of symptoms including nausea, skin irritation, cardiac arrhythmia, lowering of the pulse, diarrhoea, vomiting, hypotension and electrolyte imbalance (*for more information see the The Woodland Trust website)