Safety is priority when accessing Lancashire countryside

14 May 2020

From Wednesday 13 May the Government is allowing people to “exercise outside as many times each day as they wish” and stating that “people may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there”.
Whilst many of us will want to return to our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) for the health and well-being benefits they provide; safety remains a priority.

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If you are making a special journey into the Forest of Bowland, please carefully consider your own wellbeing and that of the AONB’s many small communities: home to many vulnerable people and a working environment for farmers and land managers.

Elliott Lorimer, Forest of Bowland AONB Manager said: ‘It’s important as people begin to return to the Forest of Bowland over the coming weeks, that they act responsibly, follow the new government guidelines for visiting the countryside and respect the local communities they visit.’

Please bear in mind that the vast majority of facilities – including cafés, hospitality businesses and potentially many public toilets – are not currently open. If you’ve enjoyed exploring your local patch of Bowland from home, please continue to do so, while respecting the social distancing rules.

If you plan to visit the AONB in the coming weeks, we ask you to please act responsibly by sticking to these rules:

· Know the Countryside Code and exercise within your limitations to keep pressure off local resources
· Avoid hotspots and busy spots – we know everyone has their favourite place in Bowland, but if large numbers of people all head to the same place, it becomes impossible to safely socially distance, putting you, your family and others at risk. If you arrive at a site that is already busy, please find an alternative.
· Our farmers have been working hard to maintain food supplies during the pandemic. Support them and our communities by leaving gates as you find them, sticking to the path, keeping dogs on the lead and taking your litter home.
· Respect the plant and wildlife which has thrived during lockdown. This is a critical time for ground-nesting birds and other wildlife, so again please keep your dog on the lead, stick to the path and take your litter home.
· Travel sustainably: If you can, journey on foot or bike. This means you experience the wonderful scenery of the AONB en route and you don’t have to worry about finding a car parking space.
· To avoid the risk of wildfire, please do not use a barbecue.
· Many people in the local community are among the most vulnerable groups and still need to self-isolate. While walking, please keep a safe distance from homes, schools, and farms.
· Stay two metres apart, keep within your family/household groups, and avoid gathering in villages where many of the shops and services remain closed.
· Be kind and respect one another.

Helping us with this huge collective effort to nurture our outstanding landscapes right now, means they will still be there for us all to enjoy when the current coronavirus restrictions are fully lifted and will ensure our vital rural economy bounces back even stronger.
For those wanting to stay indoors or who are self isolating at home, take a look at our ‘At Home in Bowland’ page for ideas and inspiration: www.forestofbowland.com/bowland-home or to get in touch please email: bowland@lancashire.gov.uk

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