The national park is preparing to welcome visitors back to the Yorkshire Dales. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The national park is preparing to welcome visitors back to the Yorkshire Dales. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

National park bosses in the Yorkshire Dales said it is a huge relief to be able to properly welcome visitors back to the area from Monday.

In a joint open letter to would-be visitors, authority chair Neil Heseltine and chief executive David Butterworth acknowledged the importance of Britain’s national parks to the wellbeing of its population.

The easing of lockdown restrictions from 12 April mean people will be able to stay in self-contained accommodation and campsites, and non-essential shops will reopen, along with pubs serving customers out of doors.

“Not since national parks were established in the 1950s have they been seen as so important to the country,” the letter said. “They are places for people to connect with nature and each other, to renew and restore their health and wellbeing, and to learn about the important relationship between town and country.

“We are acutely aware that many of you have been prevented from spending time in these places you love, with the people you love. We are also aware that many of you have lost loved ones to this dreadful disease.

“Last summer saw more people coming out into the national park and it was excellent to see them and to acknowledge that the vast majority took away their litter; controlled and picked up after their dogs; heeded warnings not to barbecue, and showed great consideration towards our communities, our landscapes, and our wildlife.

“Throughout the lockdowns and reopenings, our farmers; landowners; partners; staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to help care for this precious landscape – signposting footpaths; removing litter; making repairs and putting intensive cleaning measures in place to help keep the public safe.

“We are immensely grateful for all their efforts and, as a result, you will find a stunning landscape, with its historic landmarks, towns, and villages, here for us all to enjoy in the future.”

The two men urged visitors to conform to continuing government guidance and not undermine the country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. They also urged visitors to support businesses in the Yorkshire Dales.

“Please support those businesses by booking ahead wherever possible and, when the time is right, giving yourself the opportunity to sample some of the delicious and skilfully made produce and goods created here in the Dales,” they said. “Consider coming for a stay not just for the day.”

Mr Heseltine and Mr Butterworth also alluded to the challenges to the countryside created by climate change.

They said: “Many of you know that, aside from the pandemic, there are other increasingly important forces of change that are acting on the nation’s landscapes which include the Yorkshire Dales national park.

“The ecological and climate crisis are at the forefront on the global stage and require us all to re-evaluate the way people and nature must co-exist. Following the UK’s exit from the European Union there are intense discussions taking place regarding the future of agriculture in the uplands and the opportunities available for it to play a huge part in nature recovery and climate change mitigation, as well as producing great food.

“Spending time in nature makes everyone feel better. It eases anxiety and promotes a sense of real wellbeing. Throughout this pandemic and beyond, we hope that the Yorkshire Dales national park continues to be a source of sanctuary, solace, hope and sustainability for everyone.”

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