“Decades of destruction” caused by some illegal campers in the Lake District

Some visitors to the Lake District are causing decade’s worth of destruction to the environment with their behaviour, according to one landowner.

After Government restrictions lifted and the recent heatwave, United Utilities has seen an increase in anti-social behaviour from visitors to its estates.

In recent weeks the fire service has had to put out fires at Haweswater and Thirlmere and staff have had to tidy up illegal wild camping sites – including abandoned tents.

The fires have badly scarred the affected land at Haweswater and Thirlmere and have put at risk some Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Moorlands of bilberry and heather were burned and will take up to 20 years to recover to the levels they were at prior to the fire.

At Deergarth How island and Hawes How island, both Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) at Thirlmere, significant damage has also been done. Work has been ongoing on the islands to restore them back to their historic condition. In the last two years though visitors have continued to chop down trees, light fires and trample over flora which has also had the impact of scaring off nesting birds.

The region’s water company is urging visitors to respect the environment and leave it how they find it. Camping, fires and BBQs are not permitted on United Utilities estates in the Lake District.

Ross Evans, Estates and Land Manager from United Utilities, said: “The Lake District is an incredible place to visit and we want people to come and enjoy our estates and see how beautiful they are. However, what we’re seeing is a small section of visitors who aren’t respecting the environment and are causing damage to the environment which will take decades to repair.

“There are so many fantastic trails and footpaths for people to follow that showcase the beauty of the area and we’re asking visitors to stick to these and not light fires or bring disposable BBQs. These can quickly get out of hand and cause real damage to the environment and put those who lighted them at risk as well.

“The Lake District is home to so many great permitted camp sites and other accommodation options, visitors to the area should use them and allow us to protect our fantastic estates for future generations to come and enjoy.”

United Utilities is supporting the National Park’s Safer Lakes partnership which sees local emergency services, landowners, conservation charities and volunteers work to tackle issues across the area.

The Lake District National Park Authority has also recently launched a Lake District Kind campaign to help people get the most out of their time in the area and encourage positive visitor behaviour. The Authority is asking everyone – whether they are new to the area or a seasoned visitor - to be more mindful while enjoying the Lake District and help look after the landscape.