Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Contacting us

The Howardian Hills AONB team will be continuing to work predominantly from home for the foreseeable future 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

All our events and meetings remain cancelled, postponed or to be conducted via video call. Socially distanced volunteer tasks have been suspended for the period of Lockdown3, with the hope that they can re-start again in Spring (dependent upon the Regulations and guidance in force at the time). Staff are undertaking site visits where this is absolutely 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 are generally restricted during Lockdown3 but will be carried out where we can comply with Government rules on social distancing.

 

Enjoying the AONB landscape safely

The Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is available via Public Footpaths and Bridleways for restorative fresh air, exercise and mood-boosting – please follow Government guidance.

The most popular visitor attractions in the Howardian Hills have now closed their indoor areas for Lockdown3 – places such as Castle Howard, Nunnington Hall and the Yorkshire Arboretum. Their outdoor areas and grounds may still be open for local users only so please check the sites’ respective websites for full details.

Public Rights of Way are open but generally in a very muddy condition due to the winter weather and increased use, particularly on popular routes. Please wear appropriate footwear and stick to the path – spreading out onto fields of young cereal crops kills the plants and causes loss of yield 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 observe the CORONAVIRUS Countryside Code at all times, 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 virus 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 become popular options for walking during Lockdown3. 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 drive with 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 again delivering produce and services while keeping everyone safe. They 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 difficult 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 local business directory to find local businesses who have adapted their services during the Coronavirus pandemic. As restrictions tighten again local businesses will once again play an important role. There are many advantages to buying local, so please use these businesses again during Lockdown3. Your custom is always a lifeline to small local businesses, but again more so than ever.

Local village shops will still be open but again we must ask that their basic supplies be prioritised for local people who can’t or don’t feel safe travelling to use a supermarket. Sandwiches and cakes are still available and shops will be pleased to serve people travelling for legitimate reasons.

Looking to the future

During this third period of lockdown many people will be looking to connect with local nature and wildlife again, either during their walks/cycles/runs or in their gardens. If you want to share any images of wildlife you can do this on Twitter using the hashtag #wildhowardian

Please stay safe and follow the Government guidance of STAY HOME, PROTECT THE NHS, SAVE LIVES and HANDS, FACE, SPACE.

The Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team

Updated: 12th January 2021

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