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Stay Off the Moors, say Park Bosses

© Alan James

As lockdown continues, and with a high fire risk for good measure, National Park Authorities and other bodies have reiterated their call for people not to visit the countryside this weekend.

Deserted moors - just as they should be at present  © Alan James
Deserted moors - just as they should be at present
© Alan James

Dartmoor National Park and the police are once again asking people to stay home to help limit the spread of Covid-19.

Chief Executive Kevin Bishop cited recent incidents where Rangers had met a hostile reception from members of the public.

"Rangers are doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances and while I'm delighted to hear the vast majority of people are responding positively I am saddened to hear of occasions where Rangers have been subjected to abuse by a minority of people" he said.

"Our task remains unchanged and Rangers will continue their patrols: engaging, explaining and encouraging people to follow the stay at home guidance and understand what they can and cannot do under Dartmoor's byelaws."

"Once again we ask that people continue to follow the advice on exercising in the countryside. That is to stay local, use open spaces near your home where possible and do not travel unnecessarily. It's very tempting, if you love the area as many of us do, to want to get into the car and drive to Dartmoor.

"But having barbecues is not essential – and is also an additional fire hazard - and nor is driving 15 miles to walk your dog.

"The reality is stark: if you do travel further than you absolutely have to, you are risking the spread of the virus, your own lives and that of others."

Stay home, stay local is also the message from the Peak District National Park ahead of the weekend.

The continued call comes in the fifth week of 'lockdown' measures, and as a prolonged period of dry weather has increased the risk of wildfire.

A spokesperson for the Peak District National Park Authority said: "As the country experiences more than a month of 'lockdown' measures and an extended period of unseasonably fine weather, we fully understand that many people will be naturally be feeling frustrated and with an increased temptation to travel and get away.

"However, the government's advice remains unchanged and it is still just as important for everyone to abide by the current measures and stay at home.

"The spring and summer brings with it the challenges of wild fires in any year, but with significant pressures already on our emergency services at the moment, this is one completely avoidable factor we can all help with by staying away.

"We know from our social media channels and messages how much people are missing the Peak District, but we have also been incredibly heartened by the positivity of those who have acknowledged the need to stay local, and that a return to the National Park will be all the more special when it is right to do so."

Peak District National Park rangers are continuing to patrol car parks and other closed facilities, and are undertaking an enhanced role in checking for wild fires, to support and provide an early warning system to other agencies.

The latest Peak District National Park information during the coronavirus situation is posted at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk

North of the border, Scottish Mountain Rescue are another body putting out a similar message.

"We would like to thank everyone for staying local or at home and for keeping our rescue teams quiet" they said in a post on Facebook today.

They reiterated the point that in scotland there should be "no driving for your exercise".

"The advice is to stick to paths and tracks low down" they continued.

"There will always be grey areas, but please do not try to interpret the advice in such a way as to enable you to continue with your hobby at the moment. Don't look for loopholes, think more of the spirit of what we're trying to achieve as a community."

"Mountain rescues are resource intensive. It only takes one slip, trip or fall and our teams services will be required. That means 10, 20, 30 team members (depending on the incident) coming to help, a helicopter crew coming to assist, an ambulance on standby, Police coordinating and before you know it you have brought up to 50 or more people out all because individuals could simply not stay at home or stay local.

"Even if teams have sufficient PPE, it is not designed for use in the outdoor environment and when undertaking hard physical activity. So you, the MR team and their household when they return home are at greater risk.

"When this is all over we are very much looking forward to seeing you back in the hills."

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