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Lone walker Credit: Paul Harris

COVID 19 – Weekend Update

Saturday 21 March, 2020, by Mark Sadler

On Friday the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority issued guidance to help the general public to exercise safely outside during the COVID-19 outbreak. We advocated people take active outdoor recreation alone or in small family groups, respecting social distancing with others and sticking to low risk, familiar activities and areas

What happened on Saturday in parks, coastal resorts and rural locations across the UK was not social distancing or families sticking to low-risk activities and areas. 

David Butterworth, Chief Executive of the Authority said: “What we’ve seen today in so many towns and villages in the National Park simply beggars belief.  The number of people coming to the area today and acting so irresponsibly at a time of national crisis cannot be acceptable. If people chose to come here and ignore Government advice regarding social distancing, then I would suggest they do not travel to the Yorkshire Dales at all and stay at home.

“This appears to be the only way to better ensure the safety of all our residents and in particular key workers who live in the National Park, who we need to be fit to support the fight against this dangerous virus.

“Thank you.”

Picture of Mark Sadler

Mark Sadler

Mark is the Communications Manager with the YDNPA.


57 Replies to “COVID 19 – Weekend Update”

  1. Scott Meeson says:

    Hi we love in Grassington and your car parks were really really busy yesterday ,Malham was rammed too !! This is totally unacceptable at a time like this ,there are alot of Farmers and elderly folk in the yorkshire dales ,my wife has really bad asthma etc .we have two young boys who we are force to stay in all day and take strolls when all your visitors have left !! What i sugggest is to close all your car parks put notices up STAY HOME due to COVID 19!!

    • Carole Charlton says:

      Wish people would just engage their brains . If there are more than a few cars parked : go somewhere else or go home

  2. Jeremy Richardson says:

    The Park Authority needs to use all available means to stop what has happened this weekend (21st March ) because if it hasn’t happened already the virus will be into the Dales putting unnecessary strain on Health Services and other Public Services. Close the Car Parks and shut toilet facilities for the good of everyone immediately.

    • Helen Birkbeck says:

      But we are being encouraged to talk walks for physical and mental well-being. If all toilets close, would you want wee and poo everywhere, causing another health risk?

      • Rebecca says:

        Stay local, go for a short walk where you live, and then wee and poo when you are back home.
        Would you want to clean these toilet facilities right now?

      • Sue Ryall says:

        This is not essential travel which is a government guideline….taking walks does not mean travelling distances it means taking walks near your home. Most people are not visiting their mothers today so what makes this so different esp as shops are being stripped of goods for residents with limited resources and hospitals that are over an hour away, streets are rammed full of tourists. I’m dreading Easter as that is when the Coronavirus bomb will explode and us folk who live in the dales are going to cop for it if this carries on

      • Simon Styles says:

        Are you quite serious in this comment? The facts are there to be seen if you want to look. It is really high time to use common sense and to start putting the well being of the larger community ahead of one’s personal pleasure

        • Helen Birkbeck says:

          Not quite serious, no, but the underlying point about locking down the whole country indefinitely so that the long-term negative effects on health and the economy may actually outweigh the results of the virus is something to be taken seriously.

  3. Cassie says:

    When there is little escape from the situation (mentally), a walk in the country is a nice beak for your mental health/wellbeing, is good exercise and increased morale for your house hold (when you’ve all been stuck in all week).

    This statement and there comments are not fair to those people who are taking care to follow government advice and appropriately social distance – e.g; keeping far from others passing by/waiting a far for people to pass, not stroking dogs, covering your mouth with your scarf as people do pass by.

    The government is encouraging people get outside into open areas and get done well needed fresh air. they say kids can play in parks but obviously with parents ensuring they are following the social distancing rules.

    I completely understand the absolute requirement for social distancing but, if you close the outside world off, you will soon be dealing with increased suicide rates and a mental health crisis.

    • Linda says:

      sorry, but social distancing in open areas is not walking in groups of 3 plus in villages and towns. The clues are in the words open areas…and being 6 feet apart.

    • Lawrence says:

      Living in the Dales is a privilege that I am lucky to have. However it does come at a price. The availability of health services and other facilities are limited and/or at some considerable distance from where we live. When the government has requested that all unnecessary travel ceases it is irresponsible for people to travel many miles in numbers that outnumber the local communities by many times to get fresh air that they could get nearer to home.
      As a business owner serving visitors the current situation is serious and although allowed to open have shut in order to protect locals, staff and visitors. We hope to emerge on the other side to welcome visitors again but the health of all comes first.

      • Louise jackson says:

        Thankyou for your sensible comment, many of the visitors we have are from the city where the disease is more prevelant, we don’t have access to the medical resources these visitors have and therefore spreading this disease here is more catestrophic . I realise people perhaps hadn’t thought of this bur please if you’re reading this thread we want to look after our community and elderly just like you. Please be sensible and stay safe

    • Glynis Greenman says:

      I understand it is hard but people can be carriers yet not be ill. Covering nose and mouth with a scatf is useless, especially as the virus can enter through the eyes. NO contact is best and will best protect vulnerable groups. Pleas think of others not just yourself.

    • Chris Hey says:

      Perhaps, in these difficult times you need to be reminded of the difference between egocentric and allocentric behaviour and their respective antonyms. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

    • Lynda says:

      Yes going for walks is good for mental & physical health but advice is to stay local. If u have to drive there then I’d suggest that’s not local. Ur not telling me people don’t have streets in their neighbourhood or local parks woods etc. Yes beautiful scenery is a bonus if it’s local to u but taking yourself of to tourist spots is selfish & irresponsible. Don’t drive somewhere to go for a walk, just open ur front door & walk. Keep distance between people, enjoy the air, sun, birds singing, then walk home again.

    • Gregg Martin says:

      Cassie: These are vulnerable communities – many older residents and farmers who you are depending on to produce your food. Your need for a walk doesn’t come in to it. STAY AT HOME.

    • John B says:

      Sorry, but when a park is closed to dog walkers because a minority refuse to pick up foulings nobody blames the authorities. They blame those who refuse to pick up foulings.

      Same principle applies here.

      There is aeons of space in the Yorkshire Dales. You do not need to congregate with others or crowd into pubs and shops.

  4. Green says:

    Stay away with your bugs a few weeks isn’t going to hurt. Walking through farms touching everything. Spreading germs . We don’t want you here at the moment. If all the farmers are ill , you will be hungry very quickly. Think on . I hope this message is in plain enough format for anyone to understand.

    • Maggie Jakckson says:

      Best of Luck . I have posted on my FB page this morning about the situation in Loch Lomond national park . Some people’s behaviour beggars belief . Tomorrow morning these same people will be “working from home” on full pay . We that work and live in a rural community are all saying the same . STAY HOME

  5. M.H says:

    Please could people respect staying away from Clapham during these difficult times. The village was absolutely rammed yesterday, with cars parked close to people’s front doors, as well a full car park. We have many elderly and vulnerable people in our local communities who we need to protect, as well as families with children. Yorkshire Dales National Park, please can you issue a statement to reinforce government advice not to travel to these areas during this Covid-19 crisis.

  6. John Sutton says:

    “avoid unnecessary travel” means precisely that. A trip to the coast, the Yorkshire dales or wherever is certainly not necessary travel.

    Lockdown will eventually happen if people refuse to think “it doesn’t apply to me”

  7. Angie Pedley says:

    What happened in France was that people were happily walking dogs on the beaches, observing guidance about keep safe distances etc. Then a group of teenagers decided to party, refused to leave when told to by police & next thing everyone is banned from French beaches. I can see this happening here & the responsible walkers will also have to stop. Sadly, this seems to happen with human beings.

  8. Michael Naylor says:

    This is important. Please tell us what you are doing to discourage visitors – polite signs? closing car-parks; asking police to close on-street parking? closing popular footpaths. Does the YDNPA have an emergency response team to consider a concerted action plan?

  9. E.H says:

    Look on the Hawes webcam..ridiculous

  10. Jack Sutton says:

    Hawes is again inundated with irresponsible motorists, bikers and walkers – worse than yesterday! I’m sure other
    popular destinations in the Dale’s are just as badly affected. What are the Authorities doing about it? Let’s have some leadership instead of excuses and bland policy statements.

  11. Tony Jones says:

    Grassington & Malham are usually heaving at this time of the year anyway but if people aren’t taking any notice, which they obviously aren’t, then there needs to be either restrictions imposed on the numbers or if that can’t be achieved, then close off village centres to tourists for a while. The situation is the same on the south coast where Hove front was packed with tourists yesterday. It’s time the government started to be a little firmer and put its foot down instead of pussyfooting.

  12. Paul Howlin says:

    Upper Wharfedale villages have many mature residents, some with underlying medical issues. Visitor numbers remain high, particular walking groups, car parks are busy as usual. This is totally irresponsible and it appears these people have no consideration for residents. There is even a pub advertising as a ‘Self Isolation Retreat’ When is the YDNPA going to act and do something pro-active; clearly just words are insufficient; we need action.

    • Bob Smithe says:

      YDNPA were encouraging people to still visit on Friday!! Claiming the ‘Dales were open’
      Their irresponsible message has put vulnerable communities in danger this weekend. Elderly populations and farmers who can’t just take time off on full pay are now at risk as a result!!

  13. N says:

    Yorkshire dales ice cream vans were today parked up in the usual hotspots looking forward to making money from the impromptu holiday.
    The photos of motorbike hordes taken from the centre of settle this afternoon show little regard for any kind of government guidance. Local communities are scared and stressed. Please help.

    • Julie Spencer says:

      Much of the blame must lie with YDNPA who encouraged people to still visit despite government advise!!

  14. Pauline Butler says:

    We are a vulnerable community in Hawes and our surrounding villages as we consist of quite a number of elderly residents. We normally welcome visitors and tourism activities, they bring money into our town and countryside and enable us to thrive. But in light of this deadly virus and to help protect us we don’t want you here now, spreading your potential virus from where you have come from which could be anywhere in the UK. We have very limited hospital facilities as we are remote and limited supplies in our food stores. The cafes and pubs are now closed. So please think and respect our wishes and stay away for a while it won’t kill you but by ignoring advise and being sensible you might kill us. thank you.

  15. sharon flint says:

    When are the caravan sites going to be closed? We are surrounded by them. Very dangerous just now.

  16. Iain Connell says:

    The virus isn’t “theirs” or “ours”, it belongs to nobody but it’s everyone’s responsibility. Without restricting numbers at popular visitor spots (e.g. Malham, Grassington, Hawes) the only solution will be lockdown. Yesterday I travelled by train to Long Preston and returned from Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Apart from Horton, there were very few people out, and the trains were almost empty. So drive to less frequented places, don’t get on full trains, and walk in small family groups keeping your distance from others. Or be prepared to be turned away at National Park boundaries.

  17. Philip says:

    It’s alright people saying ‘stay local’. But 150000 city dwellers aren’t going to go for a walk locally, and just as well. It’s tragic of people can’t maintain social distancing. It’s not difficult. It should be possible to visit a country park and not step within 50 metres of someone (you didn’t travel with). A trip to the countryside, especially for children, can be a real tonic. No one need break any rules. Just ask if everyone else is a Chugger.

  18. Sue Ryall says:

    Philip….is it worth it? I don’t think people visiting now is going to be as peaceful and enjoyable as they think…anger is growing and signs are being put up in villages and I’ve seen reports of arguments with locals and tourists. Farmers are getting annoyed and dont forget people are walking across their land even if its a footpath/bridleway. I’m afraid its getting a bit like ‘enter at your peril’. Shame is everyone feels like that and its not just about exercise…its the fact that people live remotely here and our small shops are being stripped due to lack of food in other areas…we dont have as much of a resource unfortunately and to travel 20 minutes to find no bread or even flour to make some is a major problem. God forbid people end up in hospital here….theyre over an hour away and a lot of people here are frightened. Please show some respect to the wider issues that are going on here. In an ideal world your comment would have weight but I’m afraid under the circumstances and the gravity of what is being seen and experienced it doesn’t.

  19. Philip says:

    With respect I’m not sure anyone has a monopoly on stress. I appreciate the ‘distance from hospital’ and ‘shop stripping’ points. And of course everything should be subject to ‘reasonable use’ restrictions. But a handful, few dozen or a few hundred selfish individuals, who possibly won’t be back anyway, acting a certain way once, shouldn’t necessarily be used to restrict the movement of millions. By that I mean the safe, self distancing movement of millions. This isn’t to tolerate dangerous behaviour, merely to not punish the majority for the actions of a few.
    Just knowing the countryside/parks are there, even if we aren’t planning to visit, can raise the spirits. I’m not sure it sends the best message ‘don’t go to places where you won’t see anyone else’. Again, I’m clearly not talking about choc-a-bloc park villages with ravaged local grocery stores, I’m talking about the actual open spaces. There should be room for all, with a little imagination. Though I suppose if suddenly loads of people are off work with the kids, they would likely head for ‘hot-spots’ and create the issues you outline.
    It’s certainly tricky.

    • Diane says:

      Philip just stay at home. I heard from an ICU doctor today who said they had so few ventilators that they could no longer intubate the over 60s. The can’t treat an influx of heart, stroke, accident patients. An 18 year old died of CV today. Just stay at home and put your ‘spirits’ to one side because we’re going to have a lot more ghosts in the next few weeks than we needed to. Not just from this virus but from all the people who would have been treatable if the beds and equipment had been available.

  20. Sue Ryall says:

    Indeed…and people are getting a bit irrational in all sorts of ways at the moment….its turning into panic! Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

  21. Martha Ledoux says:

    A comment from the US:
    Such a refreshing way to carry on a discussion about a serious, emotionally fraught subject. Ideas were shared, people expressed their fear, anger and frustration and yet, no one was called a moron, an idiot or something worse. I’m gratefully impressed.

  22. Mac.Hawk says:

    Is it really so hard to visit a National Park and keep 2-3 metres away from another human – surely not. A bit of common sense needs to prevail, if someone arrives at the car park the same time as you give them time to leave the car park before you do, same on departing. Don’t use the local shops/facilities unless there’s enough space to give you distance from another shopper. Don’t queue like you normally would for anything and have as little contact with anything other than with your feet.

    Just go, walk, enjoy the fresh air and scenery and use a bit of common sense.

    • Sue says:

      Unfortunately common sense did not prevail this weekend in the Yorkshire Dales. There were too many people in the same areas. Please listen to government recommendations and stay at home.

  23. Virginia says:

    What grates with me is the poor quality of literacy used in these and many other posts! Does nobody check what they’ve written for spelling and missing words, grammar,etc before they post?

    Perhaps these people could use what will be forced incarceration to spend time working on improving their writing abilities so that they don’t in future post stuff that is cringeworthy in terms of careless mistakes!

    Have some pride for goodness sake!

    • A Pleb says:

      Do you really want to touch surfaces like door handles, locks, sinks, taps, toilet handles and toilet seats that may have been infected by a virus carrier?.

      Go before you leave home! and walk local to your home so that you can go back quickly if the need arises.

    • A Pleb says:

      You missed a space after the comma following the word “grammar” and the start of the abbreviation “etc”.

  24. Believe me, us Yorkshire folk from the towns have been complaining for years that our local resources have become over-stetched due to outsiders coming here but if we say “stay at home”or “dont come here” we get called Xenophobic little Englanders. You know how it feels now, albeit under different circumstances, so we empathise with our rural Yorkshire family members.

    • A Mused says:

      Good old Willy. “What’s your’s is mine and what’s minerr’s mi own”

    • V Annoyed says:

      This should have been done DAYS ago when many other businesses were reacting. This is typical of YDNP, as with Foot & Mouth, too little too late.

  25. Paul Hall says:

    I notice the YDNP website still has an impressive list of events coming up! Including Easter. Surely they won’t be taking place now.
    I would strongly suggest they take them down, as those same people who obviously have little sense will be planning even more trips to the Dales.

  26. Pauline says:

    Should the long list of events coming up in the Dales still be on the YDNP website? This will no doubt encourage more irresponsible behaviour!

  27. Em says:

    Thanks for everyone here for explaining clearly why people shouldn’t come to the countryside from the town at the moment. I’d figured it out already, but I had to think.

    It’s important that you tell people, because from a Londoner’s perspective, it does not seem so obvious: you say that people can get fresh air where they live, but in some areas of London there are only a few square meters of open space per person – getting out of London to walk it is not just about the views, though they certainly help, it is about not being forced to walk within two meters of other people all the time because there simply isn’t space. The crowding you see on bank holidays is what it is like here all the time. So people go to the countryside if they can, where they, not unreasonably, assume that there is more room. Someone on this discussion says they had to keep their kids inside until the tourists had gone, but people who live in small flats with no gardens in London are having to keep their kids inside ALL the time because parks are busy (and some are now closed entirely, exacerbating the crowding elsewhere).

    The problem of course is that if everybody goes to the countryside, then that becomes crowded instead. And, as you say, the potential damage from spreading the disease is higher because they are mixing with people from different places where Covid19 may not have arrived yet and where the health services are more dispersed (although it’s hospitals in London that are currently overloaded, because there are also more people). And, as you say, once people get out of town, they don’t just walk in the middle of nowhere, they start going to shops, using public toilets and generally milling about!

    So I will stay home, but please spare a thought for those who feel they can’t and don’t call them selfish.

  28. Debbie says:

    I am a key worker that has to work and I am seriously social distancing. Once I am home I don’t go out. But I have an 8srone dog that needs exercise. I have had dogs all my life and have them well trained and I have even showed them. I am responsible dog owner on top. My dog at the moment is a nut job, truly. It has taken three years of work to sort him out but the last thing I am doing is trying to get him to walk from the house. He suffers badly with fear and will not walk on a pavement near cars or even on a walk/cycle path under the roads he either stops or just escapes. So the only way we can walk him is to get k to car and drive somewhere remote. We never walk where others are and time it either fist thing or last thing. If we see another car we go somewhere else. So I am really stressed as he is hyperactive and needs exercise and I am worried I am going to get I to trouble and if I do t walk home we will lose him. Vet said he is almost like adhd, seriously, not funny but is but isn’t. From a truly responsible dog owner who walks dog on lead and doesn’t let hem pester other people too.

  29. Shell says:

    I’m from the dales. I was out
    Walking my dog in my village and a man that didn’t know /
    Recognise me threatened me. Yes I’m following all the rules. How people are acting is scary. No people should not be travelling over 20 miles to go for a walk. People should definitely not be threatening others and making them scared in there own home. Lots of comments are them vs US. There is no them, there
    Is no only us.

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