Dartmoor national park: 'lives at risk'. Photo: Photo: Markéta Machová CC-BY-SA-3.0

Dartmoor national park: 'lives at risk'. Photo: Photo: Markéta Machová CC-BY-SA-3.0

Dartmoor national park bosses have blasted inconsiderate visitors who, they said, put lives at risk over the weekend.

Access routes were blocked and rangers had to collect a mountain of rubbish left by selfish members of the public.

A spokesperson for the park authority said: “The fantastic sunny weekend we have just experienced here in the South-West has seen thousands of people enjoying the outdoors and all that it has to offer.

“But while this weather provides a welcome boost to the local economy, the selfish behaviour of some people can potentially put people’s lives at risk.”

At Spitchwick and Deeper Marsh cattle grid gateways were blocked and vehicles were parked on narrow roads blocking access for farm vehicles and emergency vehicles. The situation was repeated right across the national park at popular locations, the authority said.

Area ranger Bill Allen said: “People visiting this wonderful place need to think about how their behaviour could potentially cost lives.

“If you park on a narrow road preventing large vehicle access and there is a fire or accident in a farm or private house your actions could literally cause a death.”

The authority said its rangers and volunteers are now spending their time trying to get various sites back to how they looked before the weekend onslaught: repairing burnt ground where barbecues have scorched the earth; collecting piles of rubbish and assessing damage.

At Newbridge 32 black bags of rubbish were collected after Sunday, despite rangers patrolling the site at its busiest, issuing black bags to people to enable them to take their rubbish away with them.

Mr Allen said: “The national park spends over £20,000 a year on the disposal of rubbish and this does not include staff time picking it up from moorland beauty spots.

“Rubbish is a danger to livestock and human health. All the land on Dartmoor is owned by someone and these wonderful locations are there for all to enjoy responsibly.

“I do not imagine those responsible for leaving the moor in such a mess would take kindly to hordes of people turning up on their property, blocking their access and leaving broken glass, food waste, rubbish and excrement behind when they leave. People need to think about their actions and the impact of what they do on others.

“The reason people come to this jewel in the heart of Devon is the beauty of the landscape. It is reprehensible that some of those people seem to spend their time here attempting to ruin the very thing they come to enjoy.”

The park authority pleaded with summer visitors to Dartmoor this summer to remember to leave it as they would wish to find it. “Ensure your behaviour reflects well on you and do not spoil the enjoyment of others,” it added.

Visitors should take all their rubbish home; site barbecues on a rock and not light fires; park sensibly and not block narrow roads or gateways.

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