'Respect our communities' message to visitors

14 May 2020

Visitors to South Lakeland are being urged to behave with respect towards local communities following the government’s lifting of travel restrictions.

The new national guidance announced this week now permits unlimited travel time to exercise and unlimited exercise time.

The council has responded by backing calls from Cumbria’s multi-agency Local Resilience Forum for people to stay local for their exercise and not rush back to the Lake District just yet.

The Resilience Forum brings together agencies involved in Cumbria’s Coronavirus response, including local district councils, health authorities, Lake District National Park, tourism representatives and police.

Forum members have united to manage the impact of expected large increases in visitors travelling to the South Lakeland area and across the county and want to reassure residents that every precaution is being taken to keep them safe.

In response to the new government guidance, we are making a number of changes to car parking arrangements, we're re-opening our marina facilities at Ferry Nab, Bowness-on-Windermere, and we've updated guidance on use of public open spaces that we manage.

SLDC Leader Councillor Giles Archibald said: “In light of the revised government guidance we anticipate that people will want to travel to the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and South Lakeland to exercise and to enjoy the countryside.

“However, our current position is to discourage those visits and appeal to people not to come. All the different agencies are united in a clear message - please don’t head back to the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales just because you can, we are not ready for you yet.

“Many facilities like shops, cafes, pubs and public toilets remain closed and we still have one of the highest infection rates nationally. Any large influx of people coming into these areas could make that situation worse. 

“But we recognise that we cannot stop people coming here if they wish, so we have been preparing this week for the possibility of lots of day visitors arriving from this weekend.’’

For those that do decide to visit the area there are three key messages:

 RESPECT our communities

  • be considerate and don’t do things that increase the risk or cause problems for local people, particularly the vulnerable.  For example, avoid using paths through farmers' yards, park considerately, keep your dog on a lead and take your litter home
  • plan ahead and avoid busy places
  • consider the lack of toilet and washing facilities and don’t behave in an anti-social manner.

RESPECT the risk

  • South Lakeland and Cumbria continues to record new cases of the virus every day and the threat has not gone away
  • don’t take risks on the fells, on the water or on the roads. Stay within the limits of your ability and equipment at all times
  • if you get into trouble, help may take longer to arrive and you will put unnecessary additional pressure on local health and emergency workers as well as volunteer mountain rescue and coastal rescue services

RESPECT the rules

  • observe all social distancing rules
  • the government guidance is clear that there should be no overnight stays, no camping, no visiting second homes
  • avoid crowds
  • wash hands regularly

Car parking

To help manage visitor car parking, agencies that operate car parks in the national parks, including the National Trust, United Utilities, local councils and both the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, have agreed to re-open any closed car parks and re-introduce parking charges where they had been suspended to support key workers involved in the Coronavirus response.

This is to remove the incentive of free parking that may attract more visitors, but also to provide adequate parking to avoid vehicles being left on grass verges or in side streets or residential areas.

We are reintroducing parking charges on all SLDC car parks within the Lake District National Park from Friday, 15 May.

Parking charges will continue to be suspended on SLDC car parks outside the national parks (in Grange, Milnthorpe, Kirkby Lonsdale, Kendal and Ulverston) until June.

NHS staff, care workers and NHS volunteer responders involved in the Coronavirus response will be able to obtain a key worker parking pass from their employer under the government guidance, which will  allow them to park for free on all SLDC car parks.

Passes are available through NHS Trusts, local authorities and the Royal Voluntary Service: Covid-19 health care and volunteer workers parking pass and concessions

Any SLDC parking permits that expired at the end of March can still be used until the end of May.

Revised signs will be erected in car parks to ensure social distancing and signs in car parks where charges have been reintroduced will strongly encourage pay-by-phone and contactless payments to reduce risk of virus transmission.

Safer Lakes is being promoted by the LDNPA which encourages people travelling to the Lake District to park safely and avoid the more popular destinations.

Parks and playgrounds

Government advice is that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside, and has updated its rules so that, as well as exercise, people can now also spend time outdoors.

We are putting up new signs in parks and public spaces that we manage, urging compliance with social distancing guidelines and use of personal sanitisers after contact with any shared surfaces.

We are also reminding everyone that play areas managed by the council will remain closed in line with the government’s latest guidance.

Ferry Nab Marina, Bowness

Clarification received from government this week has confirmed that all forms of water sports practiced on open waterways, including sailing and windsurfing, are now allowed.

As a result we are working to safely re-open our marina facilities at Ferry Nab, Bowness.

Signage will be erected urging users of the facilities to observe social distancing guidelines and to use personal sanitisers after contact with any shared surfaces.


Councillor Archibald continued: “This is a very difficult position for us. There is a real concern that the more popular areas of the Lake District and Dales, many of which fall within the district of South Lakeland, could see big increases in visitors following the change in the guidance.

“Our first priority is to minimise the impact of this expected rise in visitors on our communities and we are working closely with our partners to ensure a consistent approach and a clear message to visitors that, if you do feel the need to travel to our area, to behave with respect and care.’’