COVID-19: update 13 May 2020

Statement from the North Pennines AONB Partnership – 13 May 2020

The North Pennines AONB Partnership is urging people to take extra care and respect local communities when spending time outdoors, after the Government issued new guidance on access to the countryside during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

We are asking people to:

  • think carefully before deciding to come to the North Pennines;
  • remember that all attractions, pubs, cafes and some car parks, toilets and shops are shut;
  • understand that this is a living, working area and that there is a need to respect farming and local communities; and, if you do come
  • avoid visiting towns, villages and other settlements; and
  • keep strictly to social distancing guidance and avoid walking near farm buildings and homes where possible.

Please consider the needs of local communities in and around the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark, before making the decision to visit. Many visitor facilities remain closed, including some car parking and toilets, along with cafes, pubs, most shops, and all accommodation, tourism businesses and attractions. Our Bowlees Visitor Centre and toilet facilities will remain closed for now, although the car park is open.

Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “Whilst we recognise the physical and mental health benefits of exercising in outstanding landscapes, we would ask people to be respectful of the needs and concerns of local communities. Please consider the potential impact of any visit on local people and services, and make sure that wherever you choose to spend time outdoors, you do so carefully and respectfully and whilst observing strict social distancing and thorough hygiene measures.

“The limited rural facilities that are open, to meet local need, are unlikely to be able to operate with safe social distancing with more people present than has been the case during ‘lockdown’. We look forward to welcoming people back when tourism and hospitality businesses can reopen safely.”

The countryside is a living, working place and the safety of rural and farming communities is important. Please consider our local communities and try not to visit towns, villages and hamlets if possible. If you are heading out into the North Pennines, on public rights of way or on open access land, please follow the Countryside Code and take additional care on farmland; though rights of way are not closed, you must practice social distancing at all times and you should consider modifying walking routes to avoid farm buildings and houses.

Leaving your home – the place that you live – to stay at another home for a holiday or other purpose is still not allowed; this includes second homes and holiday parks.

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