Car parks and public toilets in Yorkshire Dales to reopen after lockdown announcement

The car park at the Dales Countryside Museum.

Car parks in the Yorkshire Dales have reopened and public toilets will be open ‘as soon as possible’ after the Government’s easing of the lockdown restrictions.

From Wednesday, the Government is allowing people to exercise outside as many times each day as they wish and has stated that people may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there.

David Butterworth, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said this was not the approach they were advocating amid concerns that visitors to rural areas could increase the spread of the virus.

“Since late April we have been in discussions with Defra about the re-opening of the countryside and we, along with many organisations with countryside facilities, have advocated a staged approach with an initial ‘stay local’ message to avoid unnecessary travel and minimise any tension between visitors and local communities.

However, he added: “That message has not prevailed and, as a public body, we are still expected to deliver the Government’s message and manage the situation as professionally and sensitively as we can.

“We will therefore be opening the authority-run car parks from today and will strive to open toilets as soon as possible; they will be deep cleaned and have new cleaning regimes implemented.

“By making this decision we’re seeking to mitigate the parking by visitors in village centres and on verges.

“Our message to visitors and residents over the next few weeks is around respect.”

The park authority has urged visitors to do three things when they visit the national park:

  • Respect the Land – Exercise within your limitations to keep pressure off local resources, and know the countryside code (you can download it here). Take care to respect the plant and wildlife which has 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/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.

Mr Butterworth added: “It is important that everyone continues to act responsibly, as the majority have done to date. The virus will only spread further and put more people at risk if the guidelines are not adhered to.” [kofi]


  1. Stay at home, everyone – the COVID carriers are coming!

    Seriously, this new advice can online be categorised as “bloody stupid” (or bloody irresponsible!)

    • You seem to think that everybody who lives outside the dales is carrying covid, ridiculous and ignorant.

      • As a Dales resident and over 70. l have been in lockdown 10 weeks now. The village l live in has a high over 70s population. We have a large proportion of holiday homes and holiday cottages.Two shops that have remained open.Our life line.Up until now we have had few cases of the virus as they have remained untested nobody is definitely sure they even had the virus.No deaths of the virus, YET!!! The holiday homes have been used as have the holiday cottages.Cyclists by the thousand.Bikers as normal.Car numbers have until this last weekend been low.But there have been plenty of fines by the police for visitors who have not stuck to the social distancing rules.
        Locals have kept to the rules.So we are relatively healthy.
        But people with children have to sit and watch while strangers have the full run of our area and their own children cannot even see their grandparents a few doors away.
        You choose to live in cities.We choose to live here.
        You have no right to expect a warm welcome when you abuse our lives.
        Because the bottom line is anyone coming from a virus hit community to a clean
        Environment is a potential carrier of this virus.Leaving it behind you when you leave to infect innocent law abiding villagers.Hence you could be classed as murderers.
        Don’t come, don’t use our only life line shop.Dont leave your rubbish, don’t pee on our walks.Dont SPIT a thing lots of cyclists do.
        This is not Mumps,or a bad dose of flu.This virus kills.
        The selfishness of people who because they were told don’t do something, so to prove they will do as they like regardless They come in their hoardes.
        You could be a silent carrier.You wouldn’t want me, if l had it, to walk into your garden or home would you?
        Please stay away.You could kill someone’s grandma, grandad,mother etc.
        How would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot?.Everywhere is closed so what’s the point.

  2. It is not the people who are at fault here. A total lack of clear direction from the Government has left the general public total confused as to what they should and should not do during this epidemic. I watch from afar the total lack of clear direction, which makes me embarrassed to be a Brit living abroad. All my friends shake their heads and say; John what is happening in your Country. DJW

  3. I live in Blackpool and gave a caravan in the Dales. Will not be returning to the Dales until we are told it is safe to stay at our caravan site. I really feel for the locals living in Hawes. How will they feel about all the motobikers returning on mass ? Here in Blackpool we are concerned about the numbers of people on the prom.

  4. How in god’s name can it be safe to visit places that have been in lockdown and then say. It’s ok now go out into the countryside and enjoy. But stay a safe distance from each other. Agree with Valerie. Take Hawes just one of the places. You don’t need normal visitors going by car. It get hundreds of bikers. And what can the police do going forward. Say nothing. But sorry villages.

  5. People coming to tourist hot-spots FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY is a recipe for total disaster. They don’t care what they bring with them and it only takes ONE to come and leave an unwelcome present. The infection rate might well falling in major towns and cities but that will be of little comfort to rural communities if they see THEIR infection rates go through the roof!!

  6. Hi fellow Yorkshire foke I’m coming to god’s own country at weekend I no the local foke are very worried about the people arriving on mass but I don’t think this will happen and we all no to be respectful sensible and considerate keep 2 metre apart and wash hands whenever possible I miss Yorkshire dales my grandfather county ,

  7. Surely the bikers shouldn’t be coming – isn’t the change that you can now to travel to exercise. A round trip on a motorbike is hardly exercise.

  8. Well, if people can now visit the countryside and Yorkshire Dales for walks/days out from Wednesday let’s hope they endeavour to open the public toilets there by the weekend…or COVID-19 won’t be the only unwanted gifts people will be leaving! It’s bad enough in our local parks where we can go for walks and because the public toilets are closed in them, the number of young children you see peeing up the side of trees or even just on the grass is quite disgusting really, and, I don’t believe, very hygienic for other people…so, let’s hope they get the public toilets sorted and open by this weekend.

  9. Totally agree with the comments. We love the Dales but have had to cancel our holiday in Wensleydale this year. Would hate the locals to catch the dreaded virus from visitors. Stay home everyone. Hopefully we will return next year.

  10. How totally irresponsible is this Govmt, absolutely no clue…but I guess they are determined to get the ‘herd immunity’ somehow……..”let’s spread this around the country a bit more”. Unfortunately it won’t be the responsible people visiting en masse it will be the idiot bikers and others, the local community are generally pretty tolerant but it may not last!

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