The Cumbria Wildlife Trust has recently issued a public notice warning people not to feed the fell ponies at Clints Quarry nature reserve.

The Trust issued the plea after several "well-meaning" passers-by tried feeding the ponies after assuming the animals were lost.

The three young ponies have been brought in to the nature reserve, near Egremont, for three months to graze the vegetation on the nature reserve in order to allow rare flowers such as orchids to thrive.

"Feeding the ponies is not good for them or for the amazing wildlife in this site, which is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest," said the Trust's Reserves Officer, Sarah Dalrymple.

"We ask all visitors to admire the ponies from afar, and to keep dogs on leads while they’re on the nature reserve, so as not to alarm the ponies.

"This way they can get on with the important job that we’ve brought them in to do.

In the 1600s, Clints Quarry was used to provide Carboniferous limestone rock for building and agriculture, and more recently in the local steel-making industry.

Quarrying finally ceased in the 1930s and the site was purchased from British Steel and Lord Egremont in 1984.

In the 17th century, quarry workers would have worked alongside the ancestors of these young fell ponies, a working breed of mountain and moorland pony, native to the North of England.

Ms Dalrymple added: "These ponies have shaped our lives in the Cumbrian landscape, so it’s nice to see them share this peaceful haven, helping wildlife make a continued recovery."

"We want them to control the overgrown scrub, so that the fantastic wildflowers, which this quarry is known for, can thrive.

"This sheltered quarry is a summertime haven for wildflowers and insects and butterflies and what a wonderful kick-start these ponies will give to the soil and plant life in this very special place."

In the summer, the wildflowers found at Clints Quarry include wild strawberry, oxeye daisy and mouse-ear-hawkweed.

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