A ‘FESTIVAL mentality’ is blighting some of our most beautiful countryside, according to Lake District National Park rangers.
Dumped sleeping bags, left-over barbecues and picnic remains have led to a plea from rangers about rubbish being left in the area’s car parks and beauty spots.
One of the hottest summers in recent years has seen a surge of people enjoying the iconic countryside.
But thoughtless actions by a few are spoiling it for the vast majority, said the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA).
LDNPA ranger Steve Tatlock estimates that clearing up ‘the spoils of picnics, barbecues and camping’ increases rangers’ and volunteers’ workload by around 20 per cent.
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“There’s a festival mentality creeping in and we’ve come across sites that look like the Marie Celeste, with cooking equipment and camping gear left behind,” he said.
“We’ve even had sleeping bags and tents dumped in car parks.
“Many well-meaning people leave bags of rubbish, assuming they will be picked up in regular refuse collections.
“This happens in urban areas but in the countryside it would be impossible.”
Mr Tatlock said there was ‘no way of knowing’ whether tourists or locals were the main culprits.
“We need to get the message out there that if the public wants to continue enjoying our landscape they must play a part in protecting it.
“We’ve got to appeal to everyone to take their litter home, or to the nearest bins.”
A similar problem exists in the nearby Yorkshire Dales National Park, where Area Ranger Cat Kilner said it was becoming increasingly common for disgruntled visitors to take to social media to complain about litter.
“I think if that was your only experience of a National Park it would probably put you off coming back again.”
Jan Darrall, Friends of the Lake District Policy Officer, said as well as being ‘unsightly’, litter “could put people off coming to the Lakes.
“We have such beautiful landscape and it’s a shame that some people don’t take responsibility so everyone else can enjoy it.” Concerns have also been raised about the danger litter can pose for wildlife.
Sarah Johnson, conservation officer at Cumbria Wildlife Trust, said: “Small mammals looking for food can get trapped in containers, tin cans or bottles.
“Plastic bags can trap and suffocate any animals that climb into them, or try to eat them.”
Thrown away glass is particularly dangerous – as well as being a potential fire hazard it can cause serious injury by lacerating the paws of wild or domestic animals.
A spokesperson for the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy said: “Our national beauty spots are havens for wildlife and unspoilt views.
“We cannot allow litter that has been left by visitors to blight this.”