HUNDREDS of people were told to return home from the Lakes over the weekend - and 20 were slapped with penalty notices from Cumbria Police.

Among those caught by officers were 11 people from areas including Birmingham, London, Liverpool and St Helens who received fines for camping in tents at Blea Tarn, as well as 20 youths from Carlisle who were having a party overnight on Catbells near Keswick and a group of people who had set up camp on the reservoir bed at Haweswater.

Patrols targeting anti-social behaviour and coronavirus regulation breaches were conducted by Cumbria Police, the Lake District National Park Authority, Cumbria County Council, National Trust and more.

Between them agencies spoke to a large number of people, including more than 200 on Saturday evening alone.

All were advised of the regulations and encouraged to return home but more than 20 people were issued with fixed penalty notices.

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery, chairman of Cumbria’s Local Resilience Forum, said: “Many of the visitors had travelled some distance and whilst some claimed they didn’t understand or know about the regulations, others admitted they knew there were restrictions in place and decided to ignore them anyway.

“Camping in most of the locations found over the weekend is normally prohibited by local bylaws.

“Over recent weeks Cumbria has welcomed increasing numbers of people visiting the National Parks and the vast majority are following the rules, enjoying our wonderful county safely and respecting local communities but a number of people are engaging in anti-social and illegal behaviour that we will not tolerate.

“Damage caused through cutting down trees, destroying fences for firewood and leaving rubbish or discarded equipment are all unacceptable in any circumstances, regardless of the pandemic.

“Overnight stays are not permitted until July 4 and all those visiting should be aware of the Countryside Code and understand that it is their own responsibility to ensure that they do not leave any sign of their stay after they have left.

“All the public authorities in Cumbria welcome the opening of local businesses and the safeguarding of local jobs. Our only ask is that we all do our bit to protect and preserve the very environment that attracts so many visitors to this important World Heritage Site.”