THE Lake District attracts thousands of dog walkers every year.

Climb any fell or walk through any wood on any given day and you would be hard-pressed not to see a canine stretching its legs.

And while many owners act responsibly by cleaning up after their dog's mess, there is a small minority who act selfishly and fail to leave the area in the state it was in when they arrived.

In an area renowned for its beauty and striving to become a World Heritage Site, this is unacceptable.

It seems outright bizarre that after doing the dirty work by picking up the mess, walkers leave the bags on trees, stuffed in stones or simply leave them on the path.

Dog owners could rightly argue that at least they are making an effort to keep paths clean of mess. This is certainly important as dog faeces can cause illness to both humans and livestock. But while go to the trouble of bagging mess only to leave it lying around. Perhaps they are making a point that there are never enough bins, although there is nothing to stop them hanging on to the bags until a bin can be found.

However the flip side is that by their very nature bins often attract litter and, in a time where resources across local authorities are so stretched, bins in rural parts of the Lake District can be left unchecked for long periods of time and can become over-flowed.

So where does that leave the situation?

Whether better education, tougher enforcement or making an example of those caught acting illegally, something needs to be done.

The efforts of people like Claire and Alec McCarthy and Andy Caple must be commended.

Rather than sitting back and moaning, they are actively trying to change the situation for the good of everyone.

But the bottom-line remains, owners need to step up and take responsibility.