NATURE lovers have been flocking to the Malvern Hills to see the beautiful carpets of bluebells which have blossomed in the last week or so.

But some some photographers have been overstepping the mark in their quest for the perfect picture and trampling on the flowers themselves, ruining the natural spectacle for other visitors.

And Malvern Hills Conservators are urging visitors to stick to the paths and not spoil the bluebell display for others.

Colwall resident Julian Thomson said that parts of a bluebell field above Jubilee Drive, on the western flank of the hills, have suffered, with areas of the blooms being flattened by over-eager snappers.

He said: "The bluebells along Jubilee Drive this year are particularly good. Naturally they attract many visitors but it is disturbing to see them armed with their digital cameras trampling all over them to get their preferred picture.

"The damage done is immediate and unfair on the majority that keep to the designated paths for viewing and taking photographs."

Meanwhile, visitors have been admiring the bluebells not only above Jubilee Drive, but on meadows and in woods at West Malvern, in Colwall Park, and on the slopes between the hills and Eastnor Park.

Stephen Bound, director of Malvern Hills Conservators said: "The consensus seems to be that this is a good year for bluebells, not only here but nationally, and that one of the reasons may be that the warm wet winter has benefitted the spring wildflowers.

"Given the large numbers of people who do visit the bluebells, the level of damage is relatively small. I think most people are careful.

"However, it’s clear that some people are trampling or picking the flowers. Regular trampling and picking of bluebells, can kill them, and therefore, whilst we want people to come and enjoy the bluebells we would urge visitors to keep to the paths and to leave the flowers for others to enjoy."

The bluebell is a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Landowners are prohibited from removing bluebells on their land for sale. The legislation makes any trade in bluebell bulbs or seeds an offence, punishable by fines of up to £5,000 per bulb.