Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Contacting us

In accordance with Government guidance the Howardian Hills AONB team are continuing to work from home and will not 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, meetings and volunteer activities have been cancelled or postponed until further notice. Staff will still be undertaking site visits where this is unavoidable, to continue delivering public services (e.g. the planning applications process) or to support local businesses carrying out work on our behalf. We will only do this where we can comply with Government rules on social distancing, so will not as yet be meeting people on-site unless absolutely essential.

 

Enjoying the AONB landscape safely

If you are able to get out then the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is open for restorative fresh air, exercise and mood-boosting, as long as you follow the latest Government guidance.

Please note that most of the popular visitor attractions in the Howardian Hills are not fully open as yet – places such as Castle Howard house and gardens, Nunnington Hall and The Yorkshire Arboretum. They are working on opening as soon as is practicable – please check their respective websites for the most up-to-date information as it changes daily.

Public Rights of Way are open and generally in quite a passable state, but broken path furniture may be encountered as non-emergency repairs are on hold at the minute.

Please bear in mind that villages in the AONB have been very quiet during the lockdown period; they also contain a lot of people in the vulnerable and shielding categories. Villagers have been less used to coming into contact with other people, even when social distancing properly. This is now changing, but rural areas are generally more wary about the easing of restrictions so please bear this in mind. With few car parks, parking in villages may be inevitable – please respect local people, don’t block driveways and maintain good social distancing. When out in the wider countryside please don’t block farmers’ field gateways, leave any litter or light fires or barbecues. Wildfires can start very easily, spread unbelievably quickly during these very dry conditions, 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.

Please leave gates as you find them. To minimise the risk of spreading the virus by contact with gate handles, stile posts, etc, you can tuck your hand up into your sleeve to eliminate skin contact, or use a glove or plastic bag.

Because the roads have been much less busy then normal, lanes around villages have become 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 an accident. Please be aware that, as restrictions are being eased, these local roads are becoming busier again and therefore less safe to walk on.

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 delivering produce and services while keeping everyone safe. Many of these are using existing or new networks of community volunteers to ensure that people who are vulnerable or in self-isolation still receive supplies. We would like to support our local communities and businesses during this immensely difficult time and will be sharing details on Twitter as they become available.

North Yorkshire County Council have created a new 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.

If you’re visiting the AONB please consider bringing all your own food and drink at this time. Local shops generally still have queues outside and their supplies should be reserved for local residents who otherwise would need to use a bus or drive to a town to shop. If you’re having a picnic anywhere then please take all your litter back with you – it’s a fraction of the volume and weight once you’ve eaten and drunk it!

For businesses who are needing advice or support during the pandemic Ryedale and Hambleton District Councils have dedicated coronavirus business support pages.

For communities and volunteering the most up to date information is on the Community First Yorkshire webpage

North Yorkshire County Council have created a new 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.

Looking to the future

During this period of lockdown many people are finding more time to be able to connect with local nature and wildlife, 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 ALERT, CONTROL THE VIRUS, SAVE LIVES.

The Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team

Updated: 1 June 2020

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