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Visiting the Peak District during Covid-19 - your easy guide

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Last updated: 16 April 2021



Covid-19 lockdown easing roadmap

The information below is provided to inform communities living in around the Peak District. As the National Park Authority is not a public health body, we are unable to give formal advice about visiting the area.

The government has announced a 'roadmap' of changes which allows for the gradual easing of Covid-19 restrictions from the 29 March 2021. Full details on these stages, what they include and when they are expected to take place can be found on the government's roadmap pages.

Key aspects of the current restrictions that may apply to those living in and around the Peak District include:

Meeting outdoors

  • you can meet outdoors either in a group of 6 (from any number of households), or in a group of any size from up to 2 households (a household can include an existing support bubble, if eligible)
  • you can take part in formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people (outdoor sports venues and facilities will be able to reopen)
  • childcare and supervised activities are allowed outdoors for all children
  • formally organised parent and child groups can take place outdoors for up to 15 attendees. Children under 5 will not be counted in this number

You should stay 2 metres apart from anyone who is not in your household or support bubble where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings) if you cannot stay 2 metres apart.

Travel and where you can meet

You can meet in a group of 6 or a larger group of any size from up to 2 households (including their support bubbles) outdoors. This includes private outdoor spaces, such as gardens, and other outdoor public places and venues that remain open. These include the following:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public and botanical gardens
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • outdoor sculpture parks
  • allotments
  • public playgrounds
  • outdoor sports venues and facilities

You should minimise travel where possible. This means you should:

  • avoid making unnecessary trips
  • combine trips where possible

You should not stay away from home overnight for a holiday.

If you need to travel:

  • walk or cycle where possible
  • avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble
  • plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport
  • regularly wash or sanitise your hands
  • wear a face covering on public transport, unless exempt
  • stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors)

There is additional guidance on safer travel, including on the safe use of public transport.

National Park Visitor Centres will re-open in accordance with government guidance from 12 April, cycle hire facilities have opened on 29 March and our camp site will also re-open on 12 April. Car parks and toilet facilities are all open where it is safe to do so. Refreshment concessions at our facilities may also be closed, however these are operated independently to the Authority.

Most importantly, please remember - ‘Hands. Face. Space. Fresh Air'

  • Hands - wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
  • Face - wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • Space - stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)
  • Fresh air

If you have an accommodation or venue booking for the area, please contact individual businesses directly - we are unable to provide this information for visitors.


Get in the zone Get in the zone

Parking can get really busy at the moment, so make your day easier by finding the most suitable car park on our car park listings. Some of the most popular spots can be at full capacity by 9-10am at weekends, so don't forget to plan ahead.

Many of our car parks are already free, but if you do need to Pay & Display you may need loose change as card payments are not possible in some locations. Bad parking on the roadside, in villages or across access entrances can stop emergency crews and local communities getting through, so always stick to approved parking zones. Many areas are now patrolled and penalty notices may be issued.

No BBQs or camp fires No BBQs or camp fires

BBQs, camp fires or other naked flames are not permitted in the open countryside anywhere in the National Park. The results of fires can be devastating, and fines may be issued in some areas. The easiest way to avoid a problem is to leave the BBQ at home. Picnics are great, but please clean up after your feast!

Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) which directly prohibit the use of items such as disposable BBQs, fireworks, open fires and Chinese lanterns are also in place in some local authority areas.

What to do if you see fire in the countryside

If an uncontrolled fire is present in the open countryside, or you see large volumes of smoke contact the Fire Service on 999, giving as much detail about the location as possible. Do not put yourself at any risk by tackling a fire.

If you see someone deliberately setting a fire or using BBQs or other naked flames outside of approved areas like a campsite, you can contact Firestoppers on 0800 169 5888 (FireStoppers website)

Please check with individual campsites for guidance on barbecues in approved areas.

Our ask to retailers

In both 2020 and in April 2021, we wrote to over 170 local and national retailers based in and around the Peak District National Park regarding the voluntary removal of disposable BBQs from retail sale. We fully support all retailers who choose to remove products from sale that can help reduce the likelihood of wild fire in the Peak District.

We are aware of the following retailers who have removed BBQs from sale in support of our campaign:

  • One Stop, Hathersage

Zip it Zip it

'Wild camping' (anywhere outside of designated camp sites) is only allowed with landowner permission, and the majority of landowners in the Peak District do not allow this. There's also no wild camping allowed on National Park Authority land.

Take your litter home with you Don't be a rubbish visitor

Take home what you bring with you. Litter can start fires or easily harm wildlife, and ruins the day for everyone else. If you can’t, then bag it and bin it.

Some toilets remain closed A brew, a view but still maybe no loo

A few public toilets and those within private sector businesses may remain closed due to Covid-19 so please don’t use nature as a bathroom.

Respect the rules Respect the rules

Many of the shops in our towns and villages are only just starting to re-open, often with a reduced or take-away service only – please respect our local businesses and follow any guidance and signage they provide.

Trailblazer Be a trail blazer

if you’re new to the Peak District, our traffic-free trails are perfect; flat, wide and paved surfaces, with spectacular views and packed with history and nature.

Ready to know more? Then head to our Visitor pages or check out our FAQs below.


///what3words – emergency location information

Whilst we would always recommend being fully prepared with a map or clear route information when you explore the Peak District, there may be situations where you become lost in an unfamiliar area. The what3words system can help you in an emergency situation where you may need urgent assistance.

Once you have the app on your phone prior to your trip, if needed it will generate a totally unique three word pinpont location that can be passed on to the emergency services (this must be done by you).

what3words.com/how-to-use-the-what3words-app


National Park Authority operations during COVID-19 restrictions

The National Park Authority is currently operating as normal, but with the majority of its administrative functions taking place remotely and through home working by its staff. Specific information on visitor facilities, access and planning & development can be found in the sections below. You may continue to contact the National Park on 01629 816200 or on customer.service@peakdistrict.gov.uk.

Due to the high volume of queries and staff capacity, response times may be slightly longer than usual. National Park HQ at Aldern House is currently closed to the public, and all meetings have been postponed or will be taking place via virtual portals or teleconference.


Pop-up car parks - could this be an opportunity for you?

Last year we saw an unprecedented number of visitors to the Peak District National Park, many of whom were looking for car parking. If we have more car park spaces available we will hopefully reduce parking on lanes and in gateways. We are anticipating similar numbers of visitors this year, could this be an opportunity for you?

‘Pop-up’ car parks can be in use for up to 56 days a year

A pop-up car park is a car park that is temporary. Usually it is a flat, accessible field without any facilities.

You can operate a small car park for 28 days of the year, if you do not physically change the field, without planning permission. For 2021 this has been temporarily extended to 56 days. This means that you could not put in additional hard standing, permanent ticket machines, permanent signage or a toilet block, you would have to put temporary facilities in your field that are removed after 56 days.

You do not need a licence for a temporary car park. If you are a tenant you should check with your landlord and you should also check it is allowed within any stewardship agreement you have.

Facilities needed

You need a flat, accessible area with safe access. If your car park isn’t near any public toilets it may be useful to provide temporary portable toilets, and you will need to provide a litter collection point and keep the field clean.

Payment

For pop-up car parks a secure honesty box will work, although sadly not everyone is honest! A person on the gate at peak times (depending on where you are, but this is usually 10am -12noon) collecting the money can help. You can charge between £3 and £5 for the day per car.

Other considerations

You need to risk assess your site. The site needs good access, ideally not down a single file lane as you want cars to be able to arrive and leave in safety. Think about your neighbours, will they overlook it, will your car park create traffic when open, or lead to people driving there and parking on the road when it’s not open? You may be able to operate a one way system- in one gate and out of another. Access should still be available safely for people leaving their cars on foot and returning on foot later.

Insurance can usually be provided by the insurer who insures your land for public liability. There is usually an additional charge for this.

You may not open a car park on common land, a SSSI, adjacent to a listed building or on a scheduled ancient monument. Please check with the National Park Authority, regarding any designated sites such as these.

Mud-fields may get very muddy if wet. You may need to hire mud mats from an events management company or similar. You may need to close the car park if it is very wet.

You need to make sure that emergency vehicles can pass the site, and enter the site if required, safely.

Publicity

You need to make sure you have temporary signs from the road and it is clear when it is open to avoid people continuing to park outside your 56 days. It is also helpful to have signs in the car park to advise people of the rules such as no overnight stays, no littering, no fires/barbeques and for some places pointing them to the nearest footpaths to popular walks, village, pub etc. to avoid them taking short cuts over your land. Please check with your local highway authority regarding safe use of signs in the highway.

Work commitment

There may be very little work involved if you use an honesty box system. In busy areas you may like to man the site to ensure that everyone who parks pays.


National Park access during COVID-19 government restrictions

As a Category V National Park with multiple public highways and rights of way within our boundary, we remain open to access and the park cannot be 'closed' to the public. Social distancing measures continue to apply - please observe these at all times for the safety of communities, businesses and staff from agencies working in the National Park.

Visitor Centres

Our Visitor Centres re-opened from 12 April 2021. Please be aware that opening times may vary to allow us to provide a covid-safe experience.

Bike Hire

Our cycle hire centres will re-open from 29 March 2021 in line with the government's Covid-19 roadmap (subject to change)

North Lees Campsite

Our campsite re-opened on 12 April 2021.

When open, the campsite will operate at a reduced capacity, to support increased cleaning and Covid-19 safety measures. Please do not travel to the site if you have not made a booking. View availability.

Public toilets

All of our own public toilet facilities are currently open, but be aware that some around the Park may still be closed.

Hand-washing opportunities in the National Park are extremely limited

We recommend that you bring an appropriate hand sanitiser and clean your hands at the start and end of your visit as well as following contact with surfaces. Around half of our pay and display car parks have the option for contactless card payments where technology and location allows.

Public Rights of Way and signage

At the current time, we ask that those with rights of way on their land do not voluntarily close these routes until further UK guidance is received – any decision on access changes would not be at the discretion of the National Park Authority.

No barbeques or naked flames

BBQs, open fires or naked flames are not permitted anywhere in the open countryside in the Peak District National Park.


National Park Rangers - our role and responsibilities

During the current Covid-19 measures, national park rangers are focusing on a limited number of key activities:

  • Undertaking routine safety inspections on our properties such as tunnels on our all-access routes, maintaining rights of way infrastructure and car parks.
  • Installing and replacing signage including Covid-19 advice.
  • Patrolling our 45 car parks and key ‘honeypot’ visitor sites, and providing updates to our car park alerts system.
  • Supporting observations for wild fire, and assisting other agencies when incidents take place.
  • Working with partners such as the National Trust and water companies as visitor facilities gradually begin to re-open.

Due to the current social distancing guidance, our rangers are not patrolling in teams.

Tasks that are not part of our role:

  • Enforcing social distancing: This remains a matter for the police, and our rangers will speak with officers where we observe large or obvious breaches of the rules.
  • Highways and traffic control: Issues concerning vehicle speed, illegal parking and road blockages also remain a police matter. Penalty charge notices and fines are issued by local authorities and not national park rangers.
  • Fly-tipping and litter: Although the national park authority does service a small number of public bins in our car parks and other properties, major incidents or those on private land would not be a role for our teams. Where cases are reported to us directly, we will pass the information on to the relevant organisation.
  • Wildlife crime: our rangers do not have any powers in respect of the monitoring or enforcement of activities such as the species control traps or snares. Legislation for these activities is set at a national level.
  • Anti-social behaviour: our rangers will always seek to engage constructively with those who choose not to respect the national park, however we do not expect our teams to put themselves at risk at any time or be subjected to violence or verbal abuse.
  • Public toilets: these facilities are serviced by external contractors or separate teams and are not a matter for rangers. At present, the majority of public toilet provision in the Peak District is closed due to Covid-19 safety concerns.

Q: What about events?

Due to ongoing uncertainties regarding Covid-19 restrictions placed on some of our activities such as guided walks, and the practicalities of undertaking these activities under Covid-19 regulations, we have sadly taken the decision to close our guided walk programme for this year. This is effective immediately and will include all walks previously publicised for 2020. Anyone with bookings will be contacted directly in accordance with our cancellation process. Full refunds will be issued in due course.

We are working over the next few months to create a future programme of walks and as soon as this is in place, these will be available to view online and via social media. We look forward to welcoming you back as part of our anniversary year celebrations in 2021.

Due to ongoing challenges regarding Covid-19 and Tier restrictions, all applications for public events on Peak District National Park Authority-owned land and properties have been suspended until at least 1 May 2021.


Q: I am a regular volunteer, what should I do?

Registered volunteers will be contacted directly through our volunteers database. We would like to thank all of our volunteers for your continued dedication and contribution to the Peak District National Park, and look forward to welcoming you back when it is appropriate for us to do so.


Q: Is National Park HQ still open?

As of Monday 23 March, our Aldern House HQ will be closed to the public. Vehicles (including deliveries) will only be able to access the building through the northern entrance gate via the electronic barrier. Staff and business tenants will be able to access the office via their pass. If you have a meeting scheduled at the office, please contact the relevant staff member, or 01629 816200 or customer.service@peakdistrict.gov.uk.


Q: What about public meetings and committees?

Most public meetings and committees are now taking place online and can be viewed via YouTube.


Q: What about planning applications?

The Development Management service is reacting to the current situation regarding the Covid-19 virus. New planning applications are currently being registered and allocated to officers. However, due to reduced staffing numbers and remote working, there is a significant delay throughout the application process.

Site visits and meetings will not be undertaken if customers or planning officers are clinically vulnerable, or where social distancing cannot be achieved. Consultation on planning applications will continue. If you have been consulted on an application, or wish to comment and require an extension of time to respond, please contact the case officer. We are providing the service as far as we are able to while ensuring we comply with Government guidance for safeguarding of our staff and customers.

We are now able to publish Notices in the local press for planning applications which require this method of consultation including application for listed buildings or in conservation areas. Where an application requires a yellow site notice, these are being displayed at the development site. You can view the weekly list of planning applications received by the Authority.

If you have made a report of potentially unauthorised development to us, there will be delays in investigating and responding to these reports.

Although the current situation is unprecedented, no development should take place without the necessary permissions in place.


Community Support / Information

The following online support/initiatives may provide assistance:

As a National Park team, we are in contact with our colleagues at local authorities and other agencies, and remain ready to offer our support and resources. To ensure this is most effective, we will be coordinating any activity in partnership with relevant response teams from these organisations.


Please follow our social media channels across Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on the impact of Coronavirus.

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