Calls for national campaign to stop anti-social behaviour in the Lake District

The campaign wants to make sure people are respecting the Lake District. Credit: Viewer photo

A Cumbrian MP is calling on the government to launch a national public awareness campaign to try to avoid some of the problems caused by visitors to the Lake District last summer. 

A huge influx of people after the first lockdown resulted in large amounts of litter, people camping illegally and roads being blocked by poor parking.

Cars parking along the small roads is an issue in the area. Credit: Viewer's photo

In one case, in Buttermere, 118 camper vans were found breaking the rules by staying overnight in car parks on a single evening. 

The National Trust, one of the biggest landowners, had to clear up after some of them.

Litter is often left in the area. Credit: Viewer's photo

Joe Cornforth from the National Trust is asking people to respect the land.

Langdale, with its narrow roads was just one of the areas affected. The owner of the Three Shires Inn, James Wilkinson, witnessed some of the issues.

It is thought this year could bring more of the same, with record numbers expected to visit. Although visitors will be very welcome, local people want to avoid some of the scenes of last year. Now a Cumbrian MP is asking the government to fund a public information campaign to tell people about the Countryside Code and the do's and don'ts of coming to a national park. 

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, says: “What residents saw here in the Lakes and the Dales the last time the ‘stay at home’ message was relaxed last Summer was absolute carnage.   

“Inconsiderate parking led to chaos on the roads and on some occasions emergency service vehicles were unable to get passed. Litter and dog mess was left to clutter up paths and pavements. Farm gates were left open, fires and BBQs led to damage to the local wildlife, and the household water supply polluted. There were people camping overnight playing loud music into the early hours and other anti-social behaviour. 

“Now of course this disruption was caused by a minority of people but it’s crucial that we don’t see a repeat of it again this year." 

Communities in the Lake District largely support the idea. Businesses want to capitalise on the numbers holidaying in Britain, but also to make sure it doesn't come at too high a price for the countryside. 

In response a Defra spokesperson says people will be reminded of the Countryside Code, as it will be refreshed and promoted over the coming months:

“The Countryside Code is there to protect people, property and habitats – and we urge people to follow the guidance and respect the communities and environment that make up our country.

“We are committed to ensuring the code remains comprehensive and up to date, which is why it was recently revised to respond to issues raised during lockdown. Natural England is further refreshing the code to encourage visitors to protect our outdoor spaces for everyone to enjoy and it will be promoted throughout the spring and summer, across television, social media and in newspapers.”

The code encourages people to respect others and protect the natural environment, leaving no trace of your visit.  The full details can be found on the government's website.