A SOUTH Lakeland beauty spot and popular walking area has become impassable in parts because of ‘selfish’ off-road drivers, according to police.

Officers said the Kendal side of the Helm, at Oxenholme, had been ‘scarred’ and ‘churned up’ by people performing stunts in vehicles on the saturated ground.

Offenders, who police believe use the land when it’s dark, are being warned they are risking their safety by doing so.

And they have been told they could have their vehicles taken off them and be given a hefty fine.

Sergeant John Stephens, of Cumbria Police, said: “I am a regular walker on the Helm, as are many other members of the community.

“Some areas of the Helm have become impassable, even on foot, because of the selfish behaviour of others.

“Looking at some of the tracks, it is obvious there is a real danger of drivers losing control.

“They risk their vehicles turning over, causing serious injury to drivers, passengers and anybody who happens to be in the area.

“It is believed that most, if not all, of these incidents are occurring during the hours of darkness.

“If anybody in the area, whether walking or local residents, sees any vehicle being driven off road onto the Helm then please make a note of the registration number and contact Kendal Police on 101.”

A Cumbria Police spokesman said: “Police officers would like to remind motorists that driving off road without lawful authority is an offence which carries the risk of a heavy fine and even having their vehicles seized.”

Friends of the Lake District bought part of the eastern side of the Helm in 2007 in a bid to open up public access and improve the landscape for nature conservation.

And, although the damage pictured is on land not owned by the charity, it echoed Sgt Stephens' comments.

Communications officer Dawn Groundsell said: “We are concerned that the selfish and illegal actions of a few people should make parts of the Helm impassable for the many people who use it every day, causing a danger to themselves, passers-by, wildlife and grazing animals in the area.”