Welsh National Park Authorities issue a call for continued patience amidst fears of a busy Bank Holiday weekend
Wales’ three National Park Authorities have thanked the public for adhering to government guidance in recent weeks and have called for continued patience this weekend to stay home and stay safe.
While Wales remains in lockdown, there are increasing fears that people will ignore Welsh Government regulations and attempt to access popular National Park hot spots over the Bank Holiday weekend, putting the Park’s fragile rural communities at greater risk.
The Park Authorities are reminding all UK residents to remember that Wales is still in lockdown with only essential travel permitted, therefore people are unable to drive to visit any of the Welsh National Parks.
Cllr. Paul Harries, Chair of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority said:
“We have seen on the ground that the messages clearly stated by Welsh Government are getting through and that in general people are staying at home to stay safe and only exercising from their doorstep, however there have been exceptions.
“National Parks depend on our visitor economies, but during these unprecedented times we are telling people to stay at home to stay safe and visit later. If not, there is real concern that our health services will face increased pressure and social distancing measures will not be followed.”
Meanwhile Cllr. Gareth Ratcliffe, Chair of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority who represents an area bordering with England in the Brecon Beacons National Park says: “The difference between regulations in England and Wales has presented local challenges. Our communities are working hard to look after each other and we are grateful to all those following the rules for Wales and keeping our fragile rural communities safe.”
Mr. Owain Wyn, Chair of Snowdonia National Park said:
“We understand that people are missing the Welsh National Parks and may be tempted to come here but please do not. It is a critical time for our communities and health services here in north Wales as we are only now reaching the peak of Covid-19 cases. We look forward to welcoming you back when it is safe, safe for you and safe for our communities”
Under Welsh Government regulations, the National Parks in Wales have closed a number of sites, including the Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, Snowdon in Snowdonia and Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. These and other sites are closed as they present a risk in terms of the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.
Park Authorities are urging people to continue to respect the differences between Wales and England and to stay at home, stay safe and protect the NHS.
Wales is still in lockdown https://gov.wales/coronavirus
We are aware there is some confusion around the National Park Closures. This is a national emergency. Whilst residents living in rural areas such as the National Park might not feel the weight of the national emergency, the number of confirmed cases in South Wales has been much higher. Any relaxation of the lockdown, therefore, would risk increasing the rate of infection within the Park because as soon as the lockdown was relaxed, people would be on the move and we would not be able to prevent that or the increased risk of infection to the Park’s residents that would follow. Whilst some people are clearly concerned about the impact of the lockdown on their use of the countryside, other residents are content with the lockdown and would be equally anxious if it was to be lifted close to where they live, they are just not as vocal on our social media.
Just 235 km (12%) of the Public Rights of Way network in the Park has been closed under The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 and these are limited to those routes within or leading to the popular hotspots and areas where visitors might congregate and increase the spread of the virus. Most of the Public Rights of Way in the Park remain open and have remained open throughout the current lockdown for local use. Residents are free to find out where these are locally to them. All of the Park’s urban commons remain open (Mynydd Llangattock, Mynydd Llangynidr and Pen y Crug), as do most of the open access forestry sites managed by Natural Resources Wales along with the Monmouthshire to Brecon Canal towpath. So where these sites and Public Rights of Way are within walking distance of a person’s house, they are available for exercise. It is of course up to individuals to observe safe social distancing and follow personal hygiene guidelines.
We are reviewing the closures on a weekly basis and in line with Welsh Government guidance, our conclusion to date has been that: to change things would cause confusion, increase the risk of transmission of the virus and cause anxiety in the community.
Welsh National Park Authorities issue clear message to respect Welsh Government Guidance
Wales’ three National Park Authorities have welcomed new Welsh Government guidance reinforcing the need for people in Wales to stay at home, stay safe and protect the NHS.
The Park Authorities are also calling on all UK residents to respect rules and measures in place in Wales to protect everyone, and will be making significant efforts with their partners, this week to ensure that the correct information is reaching people.
Speaking of the revised guidance, Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Tegryn Jones said: “The clear measures announced by Wales’ First Minster Mark Drakeford on Friday apply to those living in Wales as well as those planning on travelling across the border into Wales.
“In Wales the lockdown continues and you should stay at home unless you are undertaking essential activities. This also means you should not drive to exercise, and only exercise from home, whilst following the Countryside Code.
“For those who do not live within walking distance the message from us is clear – do not visit Wales’s National Parks until the Welsh Government’s guidelines to avoid unnecessary travel in Wales have been lifted.
“We appreciate that the restrictions are challenging for people, but keeping our residents, visitors and staff safe is the first priority. When the time is right we look forward to welcoming you back to the National Parks of Wales and most importantly doing this at a time when we can keep everyone safe.”
The most popular rural hotspots in Wales including Snowdon, Pen y Fan and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path will remain closed using Welsh Government legislation until it is deemed safe to reopen them.
Emyr Williams, Chief Executive of Snowdonia National Park said:
“These measures in Wales mean that people cannot drive to exercise in Wales – no matter where they live – and there will continue to be no parking or access to the most popular sites in the Welsh National Parks.
“We urge visitors planning on coming to climb Snowdon or any other popular peaks and sites to follow government guidance, to stay at home and exercise in their local area – please don’t make a wasted journey. We will continue to review closures on a weekly basis and will only open sites when it is safe to do so.”
Julian Atkins, Chief Executive of Brecon Beacons National Park said:
“Exercise in the outdoors is hugely beneficial for physical and mental well-being and this has been recognised by Welsh Government in their minor amendments to legislation on Friday that now allow people to exercise from their doorstep more than once a day.
“We hope we have clarified the differences between Wales and England and we thank you for staying home, staying safe and protecting the NHS.”
More information on closures as well as changes to National Park services can be found here:
As the Easter bank holiday approaches, we have one message for everyone. Stay home and save lives.
Our public services are working around the clock to care for and keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Frontline workers are putting our health and care first, every day.
We must continue to do everything we can to support them; to protect our NHS and to save lives.
Stay at home and help stop the virus spreading.
We know it’s hard and we want to thank you for sticking to the rules. There are some early signs this is having a positive impact but there’s still a long way to go. We know that staying at home for long periods is difficult and families all over Wales are making many sacrifices every day.
Most people are doing just this, but it’s really frustrating to see some people flouting the rules and putting other people at risk. We are taking action to stop this happening.
These rules are there to protect you and your loved ones. For most people the virus will cause a mild illness, but there’s a large number of people – children, adults and grandparents – who are at risk of serious illness if they are exposed.
Sadly, a lot of people have already died after catching coronavirus. Families across Wales have lost loved ones to this virus – if we don’t act now, even more deaths will follow.
Our actions and decisions over the Easter bank holiday weekend, and in the coming weeks and months, will shape Wales for years to come.
Mark Drakeford AM, First Minister of Wales Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales Andrew Goodall, NHS Wales Chief Executive Tracey Cooper Public Health Wales Chief Executive Carl Foulkes Chief Constable, North Wales Police Mark Collins Chief Constable, Dyfed-Powys Police Matt Jukes Chief Constable, South Wales Police Pam Kelly Chief Constable, Gwent Police Andrew Morgan WLGA Leader, on behalf of all Welsh Local Authorities Arfon Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Jeff Cuthbert, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent Jason Killens, Chief Executive, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust Ruth Marks, Wales Council for Voluntary Action Chief Executive Simon Smith, Chief Fire Officer North Wales Fire and Rescue Service Chris Davies, Chief Fire Officer Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service Hugh Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Julian Atkins , Chief Executive, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Tegryn Jones, Chief Executive, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority Emyr Williams, Chief Executive, Snowdonia National Park Authority
Please – stay home and save lives.
Closure Rationale in relation to The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020
In response to queries the Authority is receiving regarding the closures it has introduced as part of the national effort which is underway to tackle the spread of coronavirus this statement seeks to explain the rationale behind the closures which have been introduced.
We have sought to close those locations (mountain summits, ridges, picturesque parts of the Park) which serve as attractants to visitors along with the principal routes by which these locations are accessed, together with the main car parks which serve them. The aim has been to get the message across that we are closed to visitors and that people should not be using their cars to enjoy a walk in the countryside. While the same rationale has been applied in each of the 3 Welsh National Parks its expression on the ground is different because of our differing geographies. In the Brecon Beacons, the reason that the areas which are closed are quite large is that many of the attractants are also CROW Access land and common land. We cannot easily regulate or restrict access to some parts and not others by their very open nature (we cannot fence sections off for example). We cannot also easily distinguish between local residents and visitors or anticipate demand at particular locations on particular days.
Most of our lowland ROW network remains open for local use and experience to date is that this is not leading to problems of congestion or people unable to avoid the 2m distancing rule. Indeed residents appear to be adjusting well to using routes they might not normally use. This approach is entirely consistent with the unofficial but sensible comments from Government that for most people a walk of about an hour from your doorstep is reasonable and sufficient daily exercise. We are all having to curtail our normal recreational activities and we should all be doing our bit to support the movement restrictions which are in force.
The objective of government is to prevent the spread of the virus from household to household and at this stage we consider it to be too early to consider any relaxations of the closures now in force. In light of revised regulations being issued last week and as a result of clear guidance being issued by the Canal & River Trust we have kept the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal Towpath open for limited use only.
We are assessing the closures on a weekly basis but plan to formally review them at the first review point (April 15th) in consultation with Welsh Government. We would welcome representations from local residents regarding any particular difficulties the current closures are causing in terms of being able to undertake reasonable daily exercise from home.
As a National Park Authority charged with promoting the conservation and enjoyment of our designated landscape we have not taken the decision to close the areas we have lightly. The have been subjected to an internal review process across the Authority and arrived at following due consideration of the regulations and their objectives.
In establishing this rationale we are having to take into account the following:
The situation is grave and the number of deaths being recorded daily in the UK continues to rise at an alarming rate. In this context the need to regulate where people might seek to take exercise is important.
The science underpinning the guidance is continually evolving (there is now evidence for example that maintaining social distancing of 2m may not be sufficient).
As a public sector organisation we have a job to do in a national emergency.
The need to keep most of the PRoW network open for essential use by local residents.
We are having to balance calls for the closures to be relaxed alongside calls for there to be tighter restrictions.
Making vehicle journeys for exercise can only be considered to be non-essential travel.
Access into upland areas is usually achieved by driving to a start point in the countryside from locations either inside or outside the National Park and these car parking points are likely to result in gatherings of more than two people which cannot be controlled without closures.
We are taking local communities’ interests as a whole into account because it’s the local communities that are put at risk by people visiting hotspots.
Cafes, pubs, restaurants, leisure centres etc. are closed and these closures have been accepted. Access to the countryside is no different.
The Park is here for everyone and it is being managed on behalf of everyone.
Our observations to date are that the regulations are working; the hotspots are quiet. There are very few people anywhere on the Canal, which remains open, or around Brecon for example (the most densely populated area). These observations as well as community feedback are demonstrating that people can adjust.
Updated list of Brecon Beacons National Park Closures
Access land/public paths closed by virtue of The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020
BB-1 Central Beacons
All areas of access land, above the hill fence, comprising of the Central Brecon Beacons including Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Bîg, Waun Rydd, Allt Lwyd, Torpantau, Pant y Creigiau, Bryniau Gleision, Cefn yr Ystrad, Cefn Cil-Sanws, Garn Ddu, Cefn Car, Waun Wen, Waun Lysiog, Twyn Mwyalchod, Graig Fan Ddu, Gwaun Taf, Gwaun Perfedd, Cefn Crew, Tyle Brith, Pen Milan, Y Gyrn, Cefn Cwm Llwch, Bryn Teg, Cefn Cyff and including all public footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways within those area. In addition, the Storey Arms car park
BB-2 Waterfalls Country (Pontneddfechan, Ystradfelte and Penderyn)
All areas of access land in the Waterfall Country and all public footpaths and bridleways located on access land. In addition public footpath no. 17 commencing at Penderyn (SN94481,08918) and leading to Sgwd yr Eira, bridleway no. 32 commencing at Dinas Rock (SN91569,08079), public footpath no. 42 commencing from a point north of Clyn-Gwyn car park (SN91819,10763), public footpath no. 84 commencing from Clyn-Gwyn car park (SN91878,10566), public footpath no. 42 commencing from Cwm Porth car park (SN92825,12370) and public footpath no. 18 commencing from the A4059 near Pant-Garw (SN94432,09959)
BB-3 Black Mountains - East
All areas of access land including roadside parking areas, above the hill fence, within the Black Mountains comprising of Hay Bluff and Ffynnon y Parc and extending south along the Hatterrall Ridge to and including Hatterrall Hill including all public footpaths and bridleways within those areas
BB-4 Black Mountains –Central
All areas of access land, above the hill fence, within the Black Mountains including Waun Fach, Pen y Manllwyn, Y Grib, Rhos Dirion, Twmpa, Waun Croes Hywel, Darren Lwyd, Gadair Fawr, Mynydd Llysiau, Pen Twyn Glas, Pen Allt-mawr, Pen Cerrig-calch, Pen Twyn Mawr, Pen Garreg, Crug Mawr, Blaen yr Henbant, Partrishow Hill, Twyn Talycefn, Y Fan, Bwlch Bach, Bâl Mawr, Bâl Bach, Garn Wen and y Gaer and including all public footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways within those areas
BB-5 Black Mountains – West
All areas of access land including roadside parking areas, above the hill fence, adjacent to the Black Mountains comprising of Rhos Fach and Rhos Fawr including all public footpaths and bridleways within those areas
BB-6 Offa’s Dyke National Trail
Offa’s Dyke National Trail, above the hill fence where it meets access land, between grid reference SO23868,39549 south of Cadwgan (Hay-on-Wye) and SO32447,22753 west of Trewyn Farm (Pandy)
BB-7 Mynydd Du
All areas of access land including roadside parking areas, above the hill fence, within the Black Mountain and the Western Great Forest including Mynydd Bach Trecastell, Mynydd Myddfai, Fedw Fawr, Waun Lwyd, Garn Lâs, Twyn yr Esgair, Moel Feity, Bannau Sir Gâr, Fan Brycheiniog, Waun Haffes, Cefn Twrch, Garreg Las, Waun Fignen Felen, Carreg Goch, Dorwen ar Giedd, Llorfa, Cefn Carn Fadog, Foel Fraith, Garreg Lwyd, Feol De gar Bedol, Tair Carn, Mynydd Isaf, Drysgol including car parks at Llyn y Fan Fach, Herbert’s Quarry and Brest Cwm Llwyd and all public footpaths and bridleways within those areas
BB-8 Eastern Great Forest and Manor Mawr
All areas of access land including roadside parking areas, above the hill fence, within and adjacent to the Eastern Great Forest and Manor Mawr including Fan Fawr, Rhos Dringarth, Fan Dringarth, Fan Frynich, Twyn Dylluan-ddu, Craig Cerrig Gleisiad, Fan Llia, Waun Llywarch, Ton Teg, Waun Tincer, Mynydd y Garn, Gwaun Cefn y Garreg, Cadair Fawr, Pant y Gadair, Cefn Cadlan, Garn Ddu, Cefn Sychbant and Mynydd-y-glog and all public footpaths and bridleways within those areas
BB-9 Mynydd Illtud
All areas of access land including roadside parking areas, above the hill fence, within Mynydd Illtud including Twyn y Gaer, Allt Lom, Daudraeth Illtud and all public footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways within those areas
BB-10 Mynydd Troed, Mynydd Llangors, Pen Tir and Cefn Moel
All areas of access land including roadside parking areas, above the hill fence, comprising of Mynydd Troed, Mynydd Llangors, Pen Tir and Cefn Moel and all public footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways within those areas
BB-11 Skirrid Fawr
Skirrid Fawr (SO32983,17857) and all public footpaths within that area along with public footpath no. 182 which commences from the Old Ross Road at SO32824,16375 to its connection with access land at SO32730,16953
BB-12 Allt yr Esgair
Bridleways nos. 8 and 10 commencing from SO12941,22706 at the A40 layby at Talybryn, Llansantffraed and heading towards Allt yr Esgair
BB-13 Table Mountain, Crickhowell
The area of access land comprising of Table Mountain, Crickhowell and all public footpaths within that area along with public footpath no. 9 between SO22408,19864 and SO22491,20321 and bridleway no. 5 (Cwm Cwmbeth) between SO21956,20081 and SO21826,20885
BB-14 Garn Goch, Bethlehem
Garn Goch, Bethlehem (SN69130,24342) including the public footpath within that area and the car park
BB-15 Carreg Cennen
Carreg Cennen woodland, carpark and circular walk including public footpaths nos. 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38 between SN66512,19093; SN67133,19067 (Hengrofft); SN67663,18906 and SN68862,19062 (Wern-Wgan)
BB-16 The BeaconsWay
The Beacons Way where it crosses any of the above areas along with the section that follows public footpaths nos. 33, 34 and 35 between SN85598,15466 and SN90814,14348 between Penwyllt and Blaen Nedd
Other sites that are closed
BB-17 Craig y Nos County Park
BB-18 Keeper’s Pond (SO25480,20735) and Foxhunter (SO26324,210750) car parks
BB-19 Llangasty Birdhide (SO12651,26224) and car park by Llangasty Church (SO13287,26186)
BB-20 Blaen Onneu car park (SO15712,17087) off the B4560 and Llangattock escarpment car park (SO20919,215391)
BB-21 Picnic site adjacent to Craig Cerrig Gleisiad adjacent to the A470 (SO97129,22174)
BB-22 The National Park Visitor Centre and car park
BB-23 Upper and Lower Blaen-y-glyn car parks at the head of the Talybont valley at SO05645,27599 and SO06321,170444
BB-24 The areas of land including roadside parking areas, above the hill fence comprising of the Sugarloaf and the Deri and all public footpaths and bridleways within those areas along with the car parks in the vicinity of the Sugarloaf at y Fro (SO29228,20032) and Llwyn-du (SO28372,16184)
BB-25 Informal car park near Carreg Cennen castle (SN67072,19020)
BB-26 Mynydd Ddu Forest car parks at Blaen Y Cwm (SO25297,28387) and Cadwgan (SO26720,25134)
BB-27 Taf Fechan Forest car parks at Owl’s Grove (SO04872,16259), Pont Cwmyfedwen (SO04235,16399) and Neuadd (SO03768,16960)
BB-28 Garwnant Visitor centre (SO0304,13117) including car park, toilets, play areas and bike trails
BB-29 Car parks in Waterfall Country namely Clun Gwyn (SN91868,10580), Cwm Porth (SN92844,12427), Gwaun Hepste (SN93561,12355), Pont Melin Fach (SN90792,10486) and Dinas Rock (SN91095,07931)
BB-30 Car park at Ogof Ffynnon Ddu National Nature Reserve (SN85617,15555)
BB-31 Car park at Glasfynydd Forest, Pont ar Wysg (SN82003,27134)
BB-32 Car park at Cwm Giedd forest (SN79141,12772)
BB-33 Car park at Pen Arthur forest, Llangadog (SN71715,25590)
COVID-19 Emergency Measures to footpaths and car parks
Posted on 25 Mar 2020
These closures ensure that the Authority is complying with the “Health Protection (Coronavirus: Closure of Leisure Businesses, Footpaths and Access Land) (Wales) Regulations 2020” introduced by Welsh Government this week. The areas affected are listed at the bottom of the page.
Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Chief Executive, Julian Atkins, said: “The movement restrictions now in force are necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus and it is essential that the public listens and acts immediately to the instructions which have been issued. While we all enjoy getting out into the countryside, locations which attract people to gather or come into contact with each other now pose a risk to our health and it is important that we take the steps necessary to protect lives. We have not taken this decision lightly but these closures are important if we are to play our part in slowing the spread of the virus and they must be respected. The National Park will still be here when restrictions are lifted but for now we must put these closures in place. Many elderly people live in our National Park and access to hospitals and NHS services can be more difficult for some, please help everyone stay safe.”
Please follow Government restrictions and stay at home to save lives and protect our NHS. You are allowed to leave your home only in the following exceptional circumstances:
To shop for “basic necessities”, as infrequently as possible.
For medical reasons, to provide care, or to help a vulnerable person
Travelling to and from work, but only if it is “absolutely necessary”
You can go out to exercise once a day, but this should be close to your home.
Brecon Beacons National Park Authority supports Snowdonia National Park Authority’s call on Government to institute clearer measures to protect rural communities and the public in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic
Like Snowdonia National Park, parts of the Brecon Beacons experienced one of the busiest ever visitor weekends in recent memory this past weekend and it is clear that some people have travelled long distances to be out in the National Park. The National Park Authority is now calling on the government to institute clearer guidance on essential travel and social distancing in open spaces and the countryside, and to introduce measures in order to ensure that the spread of the virus is slowed. Based on experiences this weekend we fear that the current guidance is not explicit enough for people to protect themselves and others.
Cllr Gareth Ratcliffe, Chair, and Julian Atkins, Chief Executive, of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said:
“On Friday night the prime minister announced new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. This included ordering the closure of all pubs, cafes and hotels. Over the weekend following this announcement we have seen very large numbers of visitors at all of our popular locations across the National Park and it is clear that some visitors have travelled long distances to get here. Like Snowdonia, some areas have been overwhelmed with visitors but just as concerning is that people are not observing the guidance on social distancing.
We are supporting Snowdonia in calling on the Prime Minister and First Minister of Wales to provide stronger measures on unnecessary travel and social distancing, to ensure that we do not see a repeat of the scenes across Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons this past weekend. Specific guidance is needed on what “necessary travel” actually entails. We also call on all visitors and holiday home owners to heed government advice and avoid all but essential travel, and to stay at home to stay safe.
The major influx of visitors into the Brecon Beacons has caused significant concern locally, with people worried about increased pressures on their communities at a time when the NHS, rescue services, and food supplies are already under pressure due to the pandemic. We appreciate the importance of tourism to our local economy but it is clear that further guidance is needed to slow the spread of the virus and keep our communities and the public safe.
Brecon Beacons National Park Authority will focus all of its effort, energy and resources in the coming days and weeks on looking after the communities and businesses in and around the National Park. We will be pleased to welcome visitors back to this beautiful part of Wales once the situation has improved.”
As a responsible tourism destination we are keen to support the safety of the people of the Brecon Beacons and the visitors we welcome each year.
Please refer to the following links for further information on specific areas relating to COVID-19.