Police and partners tackle wild camping in West Cumbria

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Officers alongside partner agencies including the Lake District National Park Authority, United Utilities and the National Trust are working together in a joint operation to tackle anti-social behaviour that has been associated with camping during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Camping on the Lake District fells (and England generally) is not expressly permitted in law without landowners’ permission, but responsible hill walkers who leave no trace after staying overnight on the high fells (known as Wild Camping) have long been tolerated as part of outdoor adventure in upland areas of the country. A number of bye-laws are in place to deal with any problematic camping.


In recent weeks, there has been a large increase in the numbers of campers and campervans on private land in the Lake District National Park and unfortunately this has often been associated with the dumping of equipment, littering, fires and criminal damage to trees and fences. This unacceptable and anti-social behaviour has typically taken place on roadsides and lakeshores but has occasionally been experienced higher on the fells.

Partners will be carrying out joint patrols throughout the national park over the summer holiday period, aimed at preventing the setting of fires and damage to the environment.

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery said: “All public agencies in Cumbria welcome the return of visitors to the Lake District and encourage all those who seek to explore the area responsibly. Camp sites are now open across the national park and we encourage visitors to book pitches ahead of their visits.

“The Lake District has a history of tolerance and is a welcoming place for visitors but we must maintain a balance between the wishes of individuals to enjoy the outdoors, the needs of local communities and the fragility of our landscapes. The impact of individual actions may seem relatively inconsequential but visitors are asked to consider the cumulative effect of their activities, whether it is fires, barbecues, littering, camping, parking, off-road driving or any other activity that could be detrimental the place and those who live and visit here.

“The anti-social camping that we have seen in recent months across the Lake District does not adhere to the long established Wild Camping ethos of responsible hill walkers in the UK and we will work with landowners and other agencies to prevent and deter this type of unreasonable behaviour.

“Having worked closely together throughout the pandemic, the Constabulary and its partners will continue to maintain efforts to protect and preserve the unique Lake District environment. We will not tolerate the damage or destruction of Lakeland habitats or heritage and will take robust action where necessary.”

Caroline Holden, Land Agent at United Utilities, added: “The reservoir catchment land at Thirlmere and Haweswater acts as the first stage of the treatment process for the clean drinking water we all rely on.  If trees are destroyed and human waste and litter are left discarded it all has the potential to pollute our precious water resources, as well as being unsightly and dangerous for those enjoying the countryside.

“We welcome courteous day visitors but camping is not permitted. All we ask is that people follow the countryside code – cause no damage and leave nothing behind.”

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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland: Police and partners tackle wild camping in West Cumbria
Police and partners tackle wild camping in West Cumbria
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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland
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