Work planned to encourage younger visitors to keep coming to Yorkshire Dales

Custodians of the Yorkshire Dales National Park have launched action to take the best advantage of what is believed to be a surge in first time-visitors and young people to the area post-lockdown.

Amid concerns over the extent of damage to the tourism-dependent area’s economy from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2,179sq km park’s authority said ahead of visitor-related businesses reopening there had been an increase in visitors wanting to walk, cycle and get fresh air.

Residents and traders in the park have said at the heart of the increase there appeared to be particularly high numbers of younger visitors, a trend which has been linked to the release of the unprecedented restrictions.

Alongside potential economic benefits, the reported increase is being welcomed as connecting young people with nature is a key theme of the government’s ‘8-Point Plan for national parks’.

The recently-launched 25-year Environment Plan set a national target for English national park authorities to double the number of schoolchildren they engage with directly each year, from 60,000 to 120,000.

Earlier this month Neil Heseltine, the authority’s deputy chairman, said it had been “heartening to see a younger profile of visitor alongside first-time visitors, and key workers coming out to clear their heads and get some well earned exercise”, an officers’ report to its Local Access Forum states they want to keep those people coming.

The report states: “With crisis comes opportunity and the anecdotal observation tells us that the visitors to the national park are younger than the usual demographic and many may be first-time visitors.

“We are working on how to keep this audience informed and engaged as well as to ensure that those who need the access to the national park the most can do so (key workers and people who have no access to the countryside during lockdown).”

To capture any momentum, the authority will next week dispatch its rangers to spread the word and hand out a new leaflet on the countryside code, one of a number of fresh communications it will issue.

North Yorkshire County Council Upper Dales councillor Yvonne Peacock, who runs a tea room in Wensleydale, said re-establishing the tourist trade was vital for the community and increasing visits from young people would help the area bounce back.

She said tourism businesses in the area had always wanted visitors of all ages, but it hadn’t been easy to encourage young people to visit as the Dales “had not been at the top of their priority list”.

Describing the authority’s promotional work as “absolutely ideal”, she added: “When people discover the Dales they come back. We’ve seen in the past how youngsters come to youth hostels or visit with Scouts and often return later with their families.”


  1. Somewhat ironic given the orgy of criminal damage suffered by Swaledale and Richmond in the past few days. Do we really need ‘tourists’ who turn up and trash the place and spend no money?

  2. Some of the young people we have had to endure in Upper Swaledale have had no regard for the environment. They have left piles of litter and drug taking paraphernalia, lit fires and wild camped in clear breach of the law. If people think giving them a leaflet on the country code will change their behaviour they are on another planet.

  3. Ye gods!!! hope you are not trying to encourage the louts seen fouling and trashing local beauty spots. Those rouring up the Dale’s on two wheels, some making as much noise as they can. Young idiots leaving rubbish,sewerage and drugs. I’m afraid this sort is not interested in the Dales, they don’t respect anything or anyone and they wouldn’t recognise beauty if it fell on top of them. And no education programme will have any impact sadly!!

  4. You need to create Nature Trails, open the Hawes to Garsdale railway line as a Cycle Path (where is the £30K Feasibility Report) and get a couple of farmers to open their farms up for Visitors Days. I am sure there are many more things that can be introduced to attract younger people. What you cant do is wait for someone else to come up with the ideas.

  5. I would be encouraging this new influx to stay away The litter and total disrdisrespect for this beautiful area was shameful I would be asking them to go away and never come back

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