Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Contacting us

The Howardian Hills AONB team are continuing to work predominantly from home and will not generally be available on our usual office number. If you would like to contact us please email the relevant team member directly. Alternatively, email us at info@howardianhills.org.uk or ring 07715 009426 and we’ll respond as soon as we can.

 

Events, volunteers and meetings

We are beginning to re-schedule some face to face meetings whilst adhering to Government rules on social distancing. We will continue to conduct meetings via video call where this is appropriate and more convenient / efficient. Our events remain cancelled or postponed for the time being but do keep an eye on Twitter and website Posts for future announcements.

Socially distanced volunteer tasks have restarted, limited to 6 participants and a group leader per task. Staff are undertaking site visits where this is necessary in continuing to deliver public services (e.g. the planning applications process) or to support local businesses carrying out countryside management work on our behalf. Site meetings will be carried out where appropriate and where we can comply with Government rules on social distancing.

 

Enjoying the AONB landscape safely and respectfully

Visitors are now allowed to travel and stay over-night in holiday accommodation. Cafes, pubs and restaurants are allowed to serve food outside. The Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is available to explore via Public Footpaths and Bridleways for restorative fresh air, exercise and mood-boosting. If you are visiting the Howardian Hills on holiday or enjoying time in the gardens of one of our many cafes or pubs please follow Government guidance.

The most popular visitor attractions in the Howardian Hills are now starting to re-open in line with the Government’s Roadmap – places such as Castle Howard, Nunnington Hall and the Yorkshire Arboretum. Please check the sites’ respective website for full details. You may need to book ahead.

Public Rights of Way are open but can be in a muddy condition due to the wet weather and increased use, particularly around villages and on popular routes. Please wear appropriate footwear and keep to the path no matter how muddy it is – spreading out onto fields of young crops kills the plants and causes loss of yield (food production) and income for the farmer. Broken path furniture may be encountered, as emergency repairs are still being prioritised by North Yorkshire County Council. You can report any issues to paths@northyorks.gov.uk. Please take photos to show what the problem is and attach them to your email, making sure to include an accurate grid reference as well.

When out in the countryside please don’t block field gateways, leave any litter or light fires or barbecues. Always leave gates as you find them – deliberately open or latched shut. Wildfires can start very easily, spread unbelievably quickly during dry conditions (even in winter), and cause damage to both property and wildlife.

Please park your vehicle respectfully and safely to avoid causing congestion or environmental damage such as churning up verges or grassed areas, particularly in villages.

In April 2021 Natural England released a refreshed version of the Countryside Code, updated to reflect the needs of today’s society, 70 years after the first code was published. Please familiarise yourself with this new code, especially in relation to keeping to designated Public Rights of Way, restraining dogs when close to livestock and closing gates. Please be mindful of the risks of spreading the Coronavirus to farm staff or local residents by maintaining proper social distancing. This is particularly important where paths go directly through farm yards and private gardens. Farmers are currently permitted to set up temporary diversions around farm yards, but these must be safe and useable and the official Right of Way cannot be restricted.

Lanes around villages are again likely to be popular options for walking. If you decide to do this, please take care and look out for traffic, particularly on bends, etc. so as not to be involved in a collision. If driving please take extra care, in case you find pedestrians in unexpected places.

If you are a landowner and are concerned about the use of Public Rights of Way (PROW) on your land then here is some Defra guidance on what you can and cannot do to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. If you wish to signpost alternative routes that avoid farmyards and gardens then here is some suggested wording for signs but please ensure you have read and understood the guidance above before instigating any changes.

 

Supporting local businesses

Many local independent businesses across the Howardian Hills are continuing to deliver produce and services while keeping everyone safe but their offer may change as restrictions ease and their in-house trade increases. Businesses are using networks of community volunteers to ensure that people who are vulnerable or self-isolating still receive supplies. We are supporting our local communities and businesses during this tricky time and have been sharing details on Twitter as appropriate.

North Yorkshire County Council has created the Buy Local website to enable North Yorkshire businesses and tradespeople who can work under COVID-19 restrictions to share what they offer with customers who need their services. Visit the Buy Local business directory to find local businesses who have adapted their services during the Coronavirus pandemic. There are many advantages to buying local so please use these businesses – your custom is always a lifeline to small local businesses especially as restrictions relax.

 

Looking to the future

As restrictions ease more people will be looking to access the Howardian Hills to re-connect with local nature and wildlife. If you want to share any images of wildlife you can do this on Twitter using the hashtag #wildhowardian

Please stay safe and remember HANDS, FACE, SPACE.

The Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Team

Updated: 13th May 2021

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