Five campers from Birmingham were handed fines today by police after being caught in the North Lakes in breach of Covid-19 guidelines.
Officers also issued a man from Cheshire with a £100 enforcement penalty during today’s patrols through Honister Pass, Buttermere, Whinlatter, Dodd Wood and Newlands Pass.
Police say they are stepping up patrols at popular beauty spots in the North Lakes in a bid to crack down on overnight campers after widespread reports of offences since travel restrictions were partially lifted two weeks ago. Checks will be carried out on people suspected of camping overnight in Cumbria, with police identifying Bassenthwaite and Thirlmere as among the top priority areas.
Inspector Rachel Gale said: “Over the weekend, numerous fixed penalty notices were given out to people camping overnight. This included five notices to people camping at Thirlmere.
“As well as issuing fixed penalty notices, our officers have also helped with the clean-ups needed after some visitors have left. In recent days at Thirlmere, they were confronted with waste including plastic and glass, empty cider cans, rotten food, cardboard boxes, the remains of barbecues and even toilet waste.
“We want the message to be clear: we are checking and we are issuing fines to those who choose to visit here and stay overnight away from their home, including camping or staying in their vehicles overnight.”
Police are working with officials from organisations such as the Lake District National Park to gather information and act on it as efforts continue to stop the spread of Covid-19. Overnight stays away from home are still prohibited under government guidance, meaning any visitors to areas such as the Lake District should go home at the end of their day trip. This also applies to people staying overnight in vehicles such as camper vans and motorhomes.
Insp Gale added: “The Lake District is a beautiful place and we understand perfectly why people want to visit. To those visiting I’d add: social distancing must be observed at all times, vehicles must be parked legally and considerately and visitors must take their rubbish away to be disposed of safely and responsibly. Roads blocked by parked cars and piles of discarded bottles and barbecues on the lakeshores are not acceptable.”
As well as dealing with overnight campers, police and other authorities such as national park rangers are also spending time clearing up after people who have abused their stay in the county by leaving litter at beauty spots. In some cases, bin bags have been filled by staff shocked at the type of rubbish left behind.
Richard Leafe, chief executive at the Lake District National Park, said: “We remind all our visitors that the Lake District is there to be enjoyed during the day but we ask that you return home each evening. Our team are working hard with Cumbria Police to reinforce the message that overnight stays are not allowed. Please help us to look after this special place and make sure your visit leaves no trace.”