Yorkshire Dales are 'closed' as National Park Authority asks people to stop travelling for exercise

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has told people living outside of the area that they should not be driving into the countryside to exercise.

Government guidance has stipulated that only local exercise is permitted - and the National Park Authority has reminded potential visitors that this should be interpreted as being from your own doorstep and that driving into other areas for walks and picnics is not allowed.

North Yorkshire Police had already told the Local Resilience Forum meeting of health and council representatives that a large number of people had been spoken to in the Craven area last weekend, which includes beauty spots such as Malham Cove.

Many had travelled from towns and cities for exercise and did not live within the National Park boundary.

Malham Cove

There have also been incidents in which visitors from as far away as Rochdale had to be assisted by police and mountain rescue teams when they got into difficulty in poor weather conditions.

Car parks and toilets remain open for local residents and the use of the emergency services.

Authority chair Neil Heseltine said: “We’re asking everyone to please respect each other by respecting the guidelines. Travelling lengthy distances to walk around Ribblehead, Malham Cove or up Ingleborough is not acceptable and puts your safety, the safety of people you come across and the safety of emergency services at risk.

“As we’ve said before, many in our community fall into the most vulnerable category of people. Please show them the consideration you would your own family and friends and stay home this weekend.

“Finally, I would like to thank our partners at North Yorkshire and Cumbria Police for their support in engaging, explaining, encouraging, and enforcing the guidance."

Superintendent Mike Walker from North Yorkshire Police said that officers in Craven were 'run off their feet' turning people away from Dales beauty spots as people travelled in to see the snow.

Supt Walker said: “This is not just down to the police, this is a matter of personal responsibility and making sure that your decisions and actions do not put others at risk.”

He added that he understood the public’s need for clarity around the definition of what is classed as local exercise, but that his message was clear.

He said: “It is not reasonable or essential to travel lengthy distances to take daily exercise when it can be taken from the doorstep.

“We do not expect people to be travelling multiple miles in a car to take their exercise in North Yorkshire but unfortunately, as we saw at the weekend, compliance was poor and people were travelling substantial distances just to take daily exercise.

“I think we can sometimes get lost in the detail of what can and cannot do and we lose focus on the real reason we are being asked to limit our movement and why the police are enforcing this legislation. It is to stop people from dying from this virus.”