The Dales is a 'place to recharge batteries'. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Dales is a 'place to recharge batteries'. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

National park bosses in the Yorkshire Dales said the area would be a place where key workers and members of households could come to exercise over the coming bank holiday weekend.

But they pleaded with the public to maintain social distancing rules.

The national park authority said the Dales were ‘a place [for people] to clear their heads and recharge their batteries’.

It added: “For the national park to be a safe place to do all these things we would ask everyone to follow social distancing guidance, to only travel in household groups, to avoid busy places, town and village centres, and to only park in car parks.”

Carl Lis, chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “National park authority car parks and toilets are open, and our car park capacity will be regularly updated in order to help people avoid busy locations.

“Authority car parks remain free to NHS staff and social carers.

“Most local businesses still remain closed, including cafes, restaurants, pubs, and many local shops, which means visitors will need to be self-sufficient. But please don’t bring barbecues as the land is tinder dry and there is a real fire risk.”

The authority said visitors should exercise respect when coming to the national park. It said:

  • Respect the land – exercise within your limitations to keep pressure off local resources, and know the countryside code. Take care to respect the plants and wildlife which have thrived during lockdown
  • Respect the community – we recognise that many in the local community are amongst some of the most vulnerable groups of people. Many still need to self-isolate. While walking, please keep a safe distance from homes, schools, and farms
  • Respect each other – stay two metres apart, keep within your family or household groups, and avoid gathering in Dales towns and villages where many of the shops and services remain closed. Finally, be kind and respect one another, whether visitor or local.
Villages such as Glenridding have seen large numbers of visitors. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Villages such as Glenridding have seen large numbers of visitors. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

But the message in the neighbouring Lake District national park, the message was more cautious.

Cumbria Constabulary, in whose area the Lake District sits, and which also covers parts of the Yorkshire Dales, said: “Cumbria’s multi-agency local resilience forum is thanking people for postponing their trips to Cumbria and the Lake District after visitor numbers last weekend were lower than anticipated.

“But ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend and half-term holidays, the message remains that the county is not quite ready for visitors to return in their usual numbers.

“Across the area the majority of shops and visitor attractions and amenities, including public toilets, remain closed and many in the local community remain concerned about the potential for further infection spread. As such people are being asked to think carefully before visiting.

“While the overall number of visitors was low, some ‘hotspot’ areas such as Windermere, Ambleside and Glenridding were busy, as were locations popular with motorcyclists such as Alston and Devil’s Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale.

“People are being encouraged to avoid these very popular spots if possible to reduce the risk associated with large groups and ensure that social distancing rules can be maintained.”

Richard Leafe, chief executive at the Lake District National Park Authority, said: “Thank you to everyone who listened to our call not to rush back to the Lake District just yet. You’re helping us prepare for a safe, new way to welcome visitors, while protecting our communities.

“If you do visit the Lake District, please plan ahead: find a safe place to park using the Safer Lakes website. Remember some of our public toilets remain closed and it’s not currently possible to stay overnight. We ask people to continue to show respect and consideration to each other during this adjustment, maintain social distancing and remember many paths are near farmer’s homes.”

Colin Cox, Cumbria’s director of public health, said: “I continue to urge people to keep their Lake District plans on hold as we grapple with the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak in the county.

“I understand that people may feel their individual visit won’t cause a problem, but when thousands of people have the same idea then that has the potential to create genuine issues. Staying at home as much as possible and exercising locally remains my advice.”

The forum also reminded people not to take risks on the fells, on the water or on the roads. Visitors should stay within the limits of your ability and equipment at all times.

“If you get into trouble help may take longer to arrive and you will put unnecessary additional pressure on local health and emergency workers as well as volunteer mountain rescue and coastal rescue services,” it added.

It reminded people overnight stays, camping and visiting second homes were against the rules.

Staffordshire Police, which covers part of the eastern Peak District, advised visitors to adhere to government guidelines.

A spokesperson said: “This advice follows concerns raised around the number of people heading to our rural areas and beauty spots in recent weeks, with roads being blocked by illegally parked cars and litter – including things like nappies – being left behind by those visiting.

“With conditions set to be perfect for outdoor activity, the number of police patrols in the area will be stepped up to ensure those taking to the Moorlands are adhering to social distancing and ensuring anti-social behaviour is minimised – this will be done primarily by community engagement and using the policing powers at our officers’ disposal.”

Staffordshire Moorlands Chief Inspector Mark Thorley said: “It is great news that the country is starting to move back to some resemblance of normality but things are some way off returning to normal just yet and it’s unfortunate that a few people have not behaved as they should.

“The Moorlands is not closed but we ask that if people do decide to visit they be respectful and sensible when making the journey.

“For instance, not all car parks are open, so the roads around our beauty spots are busier. If you can’t find a sensible and legal place to park then please go home and return at a different time. Do not park across driveways or field entrances and we ask that you always ensure emergency vehicles can pass your parked car on narrow lanes.

“If you are coming, please do enjoy the area but make sure you park responsibly, take your litter home with you and please consider how your visit might impact those that live and work in these areas.”

Fire service officers also pointed out the high fire risk after a prolonged dry and warm period.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Leek station manager Helen Chadwick said it was vital people are sensible – particularly after the Moorlands fires in 2018: “The devastation from that time can still be seen on The Roaches and no one wants it to happen again. Please make sure you take your litter home and don’t have barbecues – save them for when you’re home.

“People will be visiting the Moorlands this weekend but I ask people to be sensible about where they go, where they park their cars and what they do when they’re here. When you park your car please ensure you don’t block access for firefighters and other first responders who might be needing to use the roads – this is unfortunately something we’ve seen a lot of in recent weeks.”

Travelling long distances to Snowdonia for exercise is still not permitted. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Travelling long distances to Snowdonia for exercise is still not permitted. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

North Wales Police reminded the public that the area was not subject to the relaxation in travel rules introduced in England.

Officers said: “Despite the travel restrictions being in place, the majority of people in north Wales are adhering to the guidelines by staying at home and only travelling when essential.

“With the second bank holiday weekend of the month almost here officers are urging people to continue with their good work by continuing to stay at home.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Harrison said: “Thank you for your support over the past eight weeks – the majority of you have been fantastic in staying inside and following the rules.

“But we need to keep going. Everyone must continue to contribute to the national effort to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and I am grateful to the vast majority who have made significant changes to their daily habits and routines. You really are playing your part in helping to save lives.

“Restrictions remain more stringent here in Wales. Our tourist attractions, parts of the national park, pubs, restaurants, cafes, caravan, holiday parks and campsites all remain closed.

“When exercising you must stay local.

“Despite our repeated messages including national media coverage, we’ve continued to see people travelling totally unreasonable distances into north Wales which is extremely disappointing.

“Our focus continues to be to reassure, inform and engage with people so they understand why these restrictions are in place. Teams continue to be out and about in our communities and on the road networks, and will be once again this weekend, ensuring the people are complying with the restrictions.”

North Wales Police also reminded people that it is not legal to drive to second and holiday homes, and neither is driving to the national park and other beauty spots to walk or exercise.

The Welsh Government confirmed that the maximum penalties for breaching the lockdown have risen.

The existing fines structure, which imposed a £60 fine for a first offence rising to £120 for a second and subsequent offences, will be replaced by a new structure in which the fines double for every offence – rising from £60 to £120 to £1,920 for the sixth offence.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Yorkshire Dales boss calls for visitors’ respect and warns many facilities closed
  2. Yorkshire Dales bosses plead with visitors not to trash the national park
  3. Yorkshire Dales bosses in litter plea as more first-time visitors expected at weekend
  4. No barbecues for Yorkshire Dales visitors as national park issues fire-risk warning
  5. Dales bosses thank visitors for staying away but warn against blocking paths