A campaign to educate a wave of first-time visitors to the Yorkshire Dales about how to behave and make the most of the area needs to be launched to protect its landscapes, reduce conflicts with residents and even save lives, a meeting has heard.
Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s local access forum said the easing of lockdown restrictions had seen a surge of visitors, “crazy amounts of litter” dumped, fly-tipping, badly parked cars and numerous dog owners failing to control their animals around livestock.
The meeting heard concerns that there could be a repeat of an incident in Ribblesdale in which an 82-year-old dog walker died after being attacked by a herd of cows unless visitors to the park were alerted to such dangers.
Alex Law, a member of the advisory body, told the meeting signs highlighting where dogs should be kept on leads had been vandalised.
He said: “In our area we are seeing a lot more walkers, a lot more walkers with dogs. They’re not local people. A lot of sheep being chased. It continues. It’s becoming a real issue.”
The authority’s deputy chairman, Neil Heseltine, said he believed about 70 per cent of the recent visitors had not been to the Yorkshire Dales before and welcomed their different age and race profile to the park’s usual visitors.
He said: “We are getting a lot of really inexperienced visitors and their use of the national park is very different to what we have been used to.”
Mr Heseltine said the park needed to issue advice and “go back to very basic messaging, almost going back to the messages of the 1960s when people first started coming to the national park in numbers”.
He said: “We almost have to reinvigorate the Countryside Code and make people very much aware about all the basic things about how to behave and act while visiting the national park.”
Head of park management Alan Hulme said information about how to behave in the park had been replaced by social distancing information in many places, but plans to launch an education campaign were underway. [kofi]