Natural England has declared a new National Nature Reserve in Cumbria – Bolton Fell and Walton Mosses National Nature Reserve, home to one of Western Europe’s rarest and most threatened habitats, the lowland raised bog.

Near Carlisle, the new reserve encompasses the recently restored Bolton Fell Moss Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the pristine condition Walton Fell Moss SSSI.

The restoration of Bolton Fell by Natural England follows 50 years of extensive damage from the removal of peat and peat-forming vegetation for horticulture, which created unsuitable conditions for specialist bog plants and wildlife such as curlews and redshanks to thrive.

Now restored, Bolton Fell Moss is recovering and is on track to develop important peat forming vegetation which can be already found at Walton Moss. In time, the site will become an active carbon sink, capturing and storing carbon to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the earth’s atmosphere.

To mark the occasion, Chair of Natural England Tony Juniper officially declared the National Nature Reserve. Speaking at Bolton Fell, Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England said: "Since the ice age, our active lowland raised bogs have been storing large amounts of carbon and now play a vital role in combatting the impacts of climate change."

Cumbria, home to almost half England’s lowland raised bogs, has seen more than 500 hectares of lowland raised bogs restored under Natural England’s Cumbrian BogLIFE+ Project and funding from DEFRA.

In the UK, 95% of lowland raised bogs are classified as threatened habitat due to centuries of drainage, peat-cutting, tree planting and agricultural practices.

Six years of extensive restoration of Bolton Fell Moss has led to the establishment of important bog forming plants, with sphagnum mosses, sundew, cranberry, bog rosemary and cotton grass in full bloom.

Bolton Fell Moss is also seeing the return of a number of rare British plants and animals such as curlews, redshank and snipe, in addition to black darters, raft spiders, adders, lizards and the nationally significant large heath.

Later this summer the local community will soon be able to explore the full extent of Bolton Fell and Walton Mosses wildlife and specialist habitats, and enjoy the vast extent of the lowland raised bog. Visitors will also be able to learn more about nature conservation through research and outdoor learning. At present, visitors have full access to Walton Moss, and arrangements can be made to visit Bolton Fell Moss.