Dear residents of Snowdonia (and anybody else living in nice rural places in Wales and Scotland),
I was born in and lived in Snowdonia for 19 years, and have visited my folks regularly ever since, so I know first hand how busy it can get on sunny summer weekend. I now live in the Peak District and know first hand what you are in for once lockdown eases and people can come and visit.
I grew up during the Meibion Glyndwr years with a great deal of anti English sentiment. Right now I live in a village between Sheffield and Manchester and I see the same sentiment in many of the locals here and it pains me.
We’ve had and are having a huge increase in visitors, congestion, litter, moorland fires, accidents and so on. There is a culture of ‘othering’ fast taking hold as we country folk blame the hoards of visitors from the cities. And it's not a great thing.
What could be done differently if we could wind back the clock a month or two?
I’d have lobbied my local councillors and the national park to consider a public information campaign like never before. I'd have asked for an information board at every popular parking area raising the issues in a friendly way.
It’s no use simply painting white lines on the road side and putting up a clear-way sign by Snowdon. Once one person ignores or doesn’t understand or doesn’t see the sign, that’s it. Human nature dictates that the crowd will follow. Day after day. The income from the fines will mount up, but nothing will change. In fact resentment will grow as conspiracy theorists will believe it's simply a scheme to rip off the tourists. The message needs to be that if the car Park is full, go somewhere else, that we don’t have a right to park just because we have arrived.
After a local petition here shops and garages have stopped selling disposable BBQs. Anecdotally I’ve not heard so many fire engines of late. Get on that now and don't wait until the first fires.
Community litter picks are now a necessity here. Better signage is needed at popular spots. Wardens and rangers need to be on hand at the end of the day as people are leaving to add some authority to the signs.
Mountain rescue call outs have been 300% of the same period last year despite there being fewer personnel and those that are fit and able are hampered by wearing PPE in sweltering conditions. Remind people heading out into the hills of this.
We have a hand full of road side electric billboards on the boundary of the park telling people fires are illegal which is great, but there needs to be more signs reminding visitors that they are VISITING somebody’s home and to treat it respectfully; to allow more time to get from A to B, to give cyclists 1.5m when passing, to not rev motorbikes and sports cars like it’s a race track, to respect the fact that many locals are still terrified of this invisible virus and simply cannot comprehend why so many people are not. To understand this is really a form of bullying.
I'd encourage local residents to make their own signs for their own villages and towns, but instead of telling people they are not welcome or to go home, to ask them nicely to be respectful. One of the sayings my Mum used to recant regularly was 'do as you would be done by'. Rarely if ever has this been so pertinent.
On the brighter side it’s awesome to see so many unfamiliar faces enjoying new places. The visitors to the Peak have never been so diverse. Remember that most are respectful, and I am confident that whose who aren’t would be much more so with a bit more information, education, kindness and respect towards them. And by 8pm most of the roads are again quiet, the lakes and the mountains, the rivers and beaches will be there on thousands of days in the future when the masses are not.