UNKEMPT graves in a Lake District village have been branded a ‘disgrace’ by angry relatives of the deceased.

They say the grass is so high only the top of the headstones are visible at the Hawkshead Burial Ground.

People who have loved ones buried there find the overgrown graveyard ‘distressing’.

Hawkshead Parish Council tends to the graves twice a year but for them to be permanently maintained relatives must pay a £50 fee.

This is because most of the village is a conservation area and the council wants the wild flowers that grow on the land to flourish.

Brenda Thwaite’s parents and grandparents are buried at the site outside the Church of St Michael and All Angels.

“It’s a disgrace,” said Mrs Thwaite, who was born and bred in the village and now lives in Somerset.

“You see the graves of people who you know or went to school with and their families can’t afford to keep the graves maintained. Some people have no family [to pay]. I think it should be cut, it always was.

“This is just something that happened in the last few years, it’s so distressing. I feel very strongly about it.”

John Poole, clerk for Hawkshead Parish Council, said it looks so overgrown because of the summer weather. he said: “It’s the time of the year .“The churchyard is a conservation area. It isn’t cultivated but it is cut two times a year.

“It’s due for cutting after the wild flowers have set. The church yard itself is maintained as a wild area to keep it as natural as possible.

“Each individual grave can be maintained by paying Hawkshead Parish Council £50 a year and those graves will be cut regularly.”