Google searches for Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District surge after latest government announcement

Nationals Parks are braced for an influx of visitors this weekend as the government relaxed the rules on lockdown.

Hawes

With household groups now allowed to travel to exercise in open spaces together, there has been an increase in Google searches for the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and the Three Peaks Challenge walking route.

National Parks, as government-funded agencies, are expected to adhere to government guidelines and as a result will have to re-open visitors amenities such as car parks and public toilets - but tourists have been cautioned to stay away and continue to protect rural communities. Other bodies, such as the National Trust, which is a charity, are able to make independent decisions on whether to re-open.

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Between May 8 and 12, there has been a significant jump in the number of people Googling the Yorkshire Dales. Yorkshire's official tourism agency, Welcome to Yorkshire, advised people to 'think twice' about visiting the countryside, as many honeypot areas are not ready for an influx of tourists.

The Cave Rescue Organisation, which co-ordinates assistance for Three Peaks walkers and conducts rescues if necessary, also urged the public to behave responsibly and reduce the pressure on its volunteers. Last week, the charity was called out to locate a lost, injured Three Peaks walker from Derbyshire.

Yorkshire Dales National Park

The Dales will tentatively re-open from Wednesday - car parks, public toilets and some other amenities managed by the National Park will be accessible. However, the National Park Authority released a statement in which they made clear their reluctance to allow visitors to return. They would have preferred a managed approach with gradual re-opening.

Pubs, gift shops, restaurants and cafes remain closed.

Three Peaks Challenge

The Clapham-based Cave Rescue Organisation, which carries out rescues on Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, is prepared for an increase in walkers attempting the route.

They've asked vistors to respect the environment and the impact their activities could have on residents and emergency services. They have reminded walkers to only undertake exercise that is within their capabilities, take account of weather conditions and ensure they have the correct clothing and equipment for the mountains.

"If members of the public wish to enjoy the Three Peaks, or any part of the Yorkshire Dales, please consider the impact on local resources and residents. We will not be giving, nor wish the public to seek, permission from us to resume any activities within the Three Peaks. We ask them to consider the points above.

"If needed the volunteers from mountain rescue teams will respond. Every team member is also living in the same difficult situation that the whole country finds itself in. We are all trying to protect our livelihoods and our families. We will be there if the call comes. Please consider your capabilities, the weather, equipment and the potential impact of your activity. Remember the Dales have been here a while, and they'll be here for a long time yet."

North York Moors National Park

Although the National Park Authority has not yet updated their official guidance, as a government-funded agency they are expected to adhere to government guidelines. They are likely to re-open car parks and public toilets. Visitor centres may not re-open if social distancing cannot be guaranteed.

Dalby Forest

Dalby Forest, in Ryedale, has remained open for local use by cyclists and walkers, but its car parks and visitor facilities have been closed. As the site is managed by Forestry England, a government agency, they are likely to re-open, and have stated on their website that they will do so when it is safe.

Whitby and Scarborough

Whitby Town Council released a statement discouraging visitors, and its managed car parks and public toilets will remain closed. Cafes, shops and restaurants are also closed.

"The public open spaces in Whitby are managed, amongst others, by the borough council and the county council. They will be responsible for assessing public safety in line with the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines - when these are published. The Town Council is clear that the government's plan means that there will be no relaxation for the majority of tourism businesses in Whitby until July."

Local MPs have also called for visitors to stay away from Scarborough and Whitby until the towns can fully re-open to tourists later in the year.

Ilkley

In the early days of the lockdown, Ilkley Moor became a problem area for people gathering before Bradford Council closed their car parks in the town and blocked access to on-street parking. From Thursday, council-managed car parks at Darwin Gardens and White Wells will re-open.

Bradford Council will also re-open its car parks in other popular visitor locations Keighley, Baildon, Penistone Hill, Esholt, Shipley, Oakenshaw, Harden Moor and Hirst Wood.

National Trust

National Trust properties, outdoor sites and coastal car parks will remain closed, and will eventually re-open in phases to ensure social distancing.

Nature reserves

The RSPB released a statement regarding their nature reserves across the UK, which include Bempton Cliffs near Bridlington and Fairburn Ings near Castleford. As the wildlife has been living without human contact for several weeks, they will need time to adapt to the presence of visitors again. The re-opening of RSPB sites will be phased and not immediate.