CONCERN has been raised after the Dales received a high influx of visitors over the weekend, the first under new Government travel and exercise guidance.

The Dales has been the target of daytrippers for a number of weeks, leading some villagers to erect signs asking people to stay at home.

The increasing number of motorcyclists has been noted by a number of residents who said many were not observing social distancing rules.

Wilf Fenten, who lives in Selside said of the increased number of bikers: “So much for the national park message of “Respect the Community”, “respect one another”. Between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm this Sunday well over 120 motorbikes thundered through Langcliffe, Stainforth, Horton and Selside towards Ribblehead. We stopped counting after that. What good does it do as nobody seems to care?

“A true sense of tranquillity, remoteness and a sense of solitude”, these are supposed to be some of the special qualities of this national park. There was little of this on Sunday in the Three Peaks area.

Another Dales resident took a photograph of a group of bikers while passing through Kirkby Lonsdale. He said: “Large gatherings throughout the Dales, no social distancing, clearly no exercising intended ( unless throwing ice creams down your face is a sport) Most have illegal exhausts, most are racing and grossly exceeding speed limits, all have no respect for the sacrifices people have been making.”

A resident in Settle added: “Settle has seen a higher than usual number of motorcyclists in the town this weekend following the government’s relaxation of virus safety guidelines. The riders would normally be welcome but in these times of high risk and of potentially fatal virus infection seeing large numbers of them sitting in the town square all close together, or lined up outside the newsagent (one vaping and blowing the vapour over his fellow riders) ignoring the vital two metre social distancing.

“They are acting as if there was no risk at all - as if everything was back to normal, observing none of the critical safety advice and in doing so putting us all at risk, themselves, the locals, emergency services, NHS, shop-staff, petrol station workers, everyone. In all my years of motorbike riding the pleasure was in riding, not sitting around staring at my bike and putting lives at risk.”

Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commission, in response to the changes to regulations said there were justifiable concerns from residents, businesses and organisations living in the areas where visitors have been flocking.

She said to ‘think carefully’ before travelling long distances to exercise in the Dales.

She said: “Easing the stay at home message was never going to be easy. But now the rules have changed, it is clear we will have more visitors coming to tourist destinations across North Yorkshire.”

“We want people to be able to enjoy the countryside for their physical and mental health, but we also need them to be aware that many of the county’s facilities – from shops to cafes, toilets to tourist information, continue to be closed.

She added: “All other emergency services, the fire service to ambulance service, mountain rescue to coastguard, will potentially also have to cope with more pressure at a time when they are already stretched by the county’s response to the pandemic. Please remember, North Yorkshire is our home not just your playground. “

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, however, said it felt most people had heeded the message.

Its chairman Carl Lis, said: “To everyone who followed the Government’s social distancing guidelines and showed respect to the land, the community and each other, I want to say thank you. It was great to see the vast majority of people taking this on board. Of course, there have been one or two exceptions and I would like to thank North Yorkshire and Cumbria police for their support in dealing with these.

Neil Heseltine, YDNPA deputy chairman added: “Having taken the decision to open our car parks and toilets, the only car park to near capacity was in my home village of Malham. It was good to see the social distancing guidelines being followed and heartening to see a younger profile of visitor alongside first time visitors, and key workers coming out to clear their heads and get some well-earned exercise. “