Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has launched an investigation into how it can help alleviate the misery felt by people living near one of the country’s most popular walks.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority heard the 60,000 charity walkers descending on the 24-mile Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge annually had led some residents to evacuate their homes at weekends.
Issues reported by villagers living in the shadow of the 694m Pen-y-Ghent, 736m Whernside and 723m Ingleborough include early morning and late night noise, verbal abuse, people urinating outside homes and inconsiderate parking.
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Richard Welch, a North Yorkshire County councillor for Ribblesdale, told the authority feelings were running high in villages such as Horton in Ribblesdale, and that he had been ridiculed for defending the authority’s stance towards the behaviour of the walkers.
He said the area was suffering from “over-tourism”.
Mr Welch said: “Every weekend it is absolute pandemonium. I know one couple who have bought a camper van because they don’t want to be in Horton every weekend. The Three Peaks walk is making people’s lives a misery. I was in the pub at Ribblehead with a baby who was born in there on Three Peaks Cycle
Race day because the ambulance couldn’t get through due to indiscriminate parking. We have got to get our heads together to think how can we help the local population, who do suffer.”
The meeting heard Ripon and Skipton MP Julian Smith had also highlighted his concerns to the authority.
The authority’s chief executive, David Butterworth, said while the Government expected national parks to increase visitor numbers by ten per cent and Three Peaks walkers raised £6m for charity annually, this needed to be balanced against the impact on local communities.
He said the authority was working with event organisers and residents when possible, but as the route is on public rights of way and open access walkers were not obliged to register with the authority.
Mr Butterworth said the authority had produced a code of conduct for Three Peaks walkers, a draft of which was being considered by parish councils.
Members agreed possible alternative start points and alternative routes needed to be reviewed alongside other options to cut nuisance at its next meeting in December.