The group was found camping near Surrender Bridge in Swaledale. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

The group was found camping near Surrender Bridge in Swaledale. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

Police in the Yorkshire Dales have handed fixed-penalty notices to a group found wild camping.

A local resident reported five tents had been pitched next to a ruined smelt mill near Surrender Bridge in Swaledale.

North Yorkshire Police were alerted about 8.30pm on Friday and went to the site off the Feetham to Langthwaite road, on the route of the Coast to Coast Walk. The group had also lit a fire close to the ruins.

A police spokesperson said: “On arrival officers spoke to four men and four women in their mid-20s. They had travelled from West Yorkshire and were from six different households.

“They were reported for offences which breach the current regulations.

“As they had been drinking they had had to remain there overnight, but they did pack up their belongings and put the fire out in order to depart the area and return home first thing on Saturday.

“Officers also moved a campervan on from the location which is believed to have travelled from Teesside.”

Inspector Mark Gee, of the Richmondshire neighbourhood policing team, said: “This was a clear breach of the regulations. Leaving your home address to camp overnight is not allowed.

“I appeal to people to show respect for the communities in the Yorkshire Dales, and for those visiting the area to only do so for reasons allowed under the current laws.

“If you are unsure of the law, please consult the Government website and check if your travel and visit is going to be lawful before setting off.

“I appreciate it is a confusing time but ignorance is no excuse in law – you need to cover yourself.”

Officers in a neighbouring force echoed the North Yorkshire Police statement.

Cumbria Constabulary said: “Incidents of people ignoring the current lockdown restrictions and attempting to camp overnight at local beauty spots in the Lake Districts are prompting Cumbria’s multi-agency local resilience forum to remind people that overnight stays are not permitted under the new guidance and anyone found breaking the rule will be asked to move on, and potentially fined.

“The rules apply to all forms of overnight stays by visitors – including camping, motorhomes, caravans, boats and second homes.

“On Monday the Prime Minister answered a question during the daily briefing from an Ambleside resident on the issue of trips to the Lake District saying: ‘There cannot be any question of people just going off for holidays in places like the Lake District’.

“During the briefing on Thursday, the transport secretary addressed the specific issue of camping holidays saying: ‘People have to stay in their own homes, and not stay over anywhere’.”

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