‘Don’t come to Yorkshire Dales if your can’t social distance’ says national park chief

Askrigg in Wensleydale. Photo: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

The public should not be coming to the Yorkshire Dales if they can’t practice social distancing, the chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said last night.

David Butterworth said the number of people coming to the Dales on Saturday “beggars belief”.

Yesterday, Richmondshire Today reported that large numbers of people had come to the Upper Dales, and were visiting its towns and villages, including Hawes, Bainbridge and Askrigg.

County councillor Yvonne Peacock said locals were “nervous” about the visitors increasing the risk of the spread of the coronavirus.

She said they were also putting a strain on local food shops.

District councillor Jill McMullon said she had called the police about the large numbers of bikers in Hawes yesterday, however she was told there was nothing they could do.

On Friday, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority issued guidance to help the general public to exercise safely outside during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The advocated people taking “active outdoor recreation alone or in small family groups, respecting social distancing with others and sticking to low risk, familiar activities and areas”.

But Mr Butterworth said that what happened on Saturday in parks, coastal resorts and rural locations across the UK was not social distancing or families sticking to low risk activities and areas.

He added: “What we’ve seen today in so many towns and villages in the national park simply beggars belief.

“The number of people coming to the area today and acting so irresponsibly at a time of national crisis cannot be acceptable.

“If people chose to come here and ignore Government advice regarding social distancing, then I would suggest they do not travel to the Yorkshire Dales at all and stay at home.

“This appears to be the only way to better ensure the safety of all our residents and in particular key workers who live in the national park, who we need to be fit to support the fight against this dangerous virus.”


  1. Yes, it was irresponsible of the National Park to issue any encouragement for people to come to the Yorkshire Dales at a time of national emergency when the Government and the NHS are strongly advising people to stay at home to reduce the risk of the spread of infection. The National Park should say clearly that the Yorkshire Dales is, for the moment and the foreseeable future, closed to non-residents for the good of everyone. It is necessary because only extreme measures will keep everyone safe.

  2. It was irresponsible for the National Park to encourage people to come here whilst the Government and the NHS are strongly advising people to stay at home and not make unnecessary journeys. We need to prevent the spread of this infection and encouraging people to travel miles to the National Park is not helpful.

    • Borris needs to be told directly about this problem we are having in rural areas, we who live in the Yorkshire dales find that we are unable to do just that what these selfish people did this weekend was to enjoy some freedom after such along winter & enjoy a beautiful dry few days.

  3. Maybe the country should look at the facilitates provided to visitors. If there aren’t any then people would quickly get the message and stay away.
    Pubs’ that flout the opening rules should not have their licenses revoked when they come up for renewal, is but one example of getting the message across to people.
    It’s also a moral question of; “wealth or health”.
    Stay safe.

  4. We live in Cumbria and the national park is crazy as well do all these people not realise the sooner we get rid of this disease with keeping a real distance the sooner we can get back to normality all the hills and fells will always be there so just hunker down for a while

  5. block off car parks with barriers and fine people who park in restricted areas also go on Television to tell people that all restrictions will be enforced in full

  6. Hawes today is full of people, mostly bikers congregating around the fish & chip shop. No social distancing, looks more like a street party. Is it time to close these food outlets? I spent 90 minutes walking the dog on an easy footpath, never saw a soul. People just do not get the seriousness of the situation I thought it was the locals who were supposed to be stupid. MER

    • Very concerned for those who live in Hawes and the upper dale with the startling numbers of visitors ignoring all advice and guidance on keeping themselves and … particularly … those who live here, safe. Please – take this seriously for everyone’s sake and consider the needs of others and how our individual behaviour can impact upon others. Lives are at risk.

  7. We booked holiday cottage in the Lakes for end of June we paid a deposit this was booked last year. We are not young but love long walks.we are unsure what the situation will be like by end of June Any sensible suggestion on what action to take please.

    • Police are saying dont travel is is not ‘essential travel’. 3 months at least! On top of that residents are angry it might not be peaceful and enjoyable. I’m in the same boat and have cancelled a trip to Scotland I feel it is the right thing to do. What about asking to delay trip to late summer/early autumn…Autumn is stunning in the Lakes

  8. Minutes after Friday’s “stay at home” message from the government, 2 car loads of idiots rocked up at the holiday let next door!! What part of “stay at home” do these people not understand?? But the message is starting to sink in. Shops are shutting voluntarily and the hundreds who descended on the Hawes Caravan Club site have been sent home. All CC sites are now shut TILL THE END OF JUNE… but the clowns next door are still there and I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t another bunch of inconsiderate idiots next week!!!

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