Walkers and cyclists came to beauty spots in Surrey this afternoon when parking lots were crowded during the third national lockdown.
Cars lined the road outside Box Hill in the North Downs as families, couples, and walkers made the most of a day off vacationing or schools were closed while walking through the nature reserve.
However, local residents are concerned about the large number of cars in the area, people who do not socially distance themselves, and visitors who may infect locals with Covid-19 in an area that has so far got away relatively unscathed.
It comes when the government asked people to stay in their "local areas". A statement read: “If you leave home for a valid reason, you should always stay there – unless there is a need to move further, such as going to work. Staying local means staying in the village, town, or part of town that you live in. & # 39;
Even so, it is believed that Londoners flock to beauty spots in the surrounding countryside, including Boxhill, Leith Hill, and Ranmoor in Surrey.
Box Hill is popular with visitors for its panoramic views, wildlife and plants, and it's also a popular spot for cyclists after being featured on the London 2012 Olympics road race track.
The main parking lot stayed open today and cost £ 3 for two hours or £ 4 for four hours after the National Trust originally closed it during the initial lockdown – which at the time resulted in cars clogging local roads.
David Preedy, a parish council who represents Box Hill on Mole Valley District Council, told MailOnline today that he has received 40 complaints from residents of the area about problems at the site since the pandemic began.
People gather this afternoon from a lookout in the Box Hill National Trust Conservation Area in Surrey
The cars are parked on a road leading to Box Hill Nature Reserve in Surrey, which is full of visitors this afternoon
Vehicles parked in Surrey’s Box Hill Nature Reserve car park and costing £ 3 for two hours or £ 4 for four hours
He said, “It's been a problem since the initial lockdown was completed. I understand people who are stuck in apartments in the city and have to get out of the country, and I have great compassion for them.
& # 39; It's not just Box Hill. One Sunday in December I was walking around Leith Hill and Ranmoor in Surrey and they were all full. There was a car on every side where you could park. Box Hill is in my patch so I'm worried about that. & # 39;
"Stay Local": Government rules require people to stay near their homes during the national lockdown
The British have been asked to stay in their region for the third national lockdown.
According to the government, no one should travel outside of their town or village, with a few exceptions – including work.
A statement posted on the government's website said, “If you leave home for a valid reason, you should always stay there – unless there is a need to move further, such as going to work.
"To stay local means to stay in the village, town, or part of town that you live in."
People can only leave their homes for the following permissible reasons:
- Buy based on basic needs for you or someone in need of protection.
- Go to work, or do volunteer or community service when you cannot reasonably do so from home.
- Exercise with your household (or support bubble) or someone else. This should be limited to once per day and you shouldn't travel outside of your area.
- Meet your support bubble or childcare bubble when needed, but only if you are legally entitled to create one.
- Seek medical attention or avoid injury, illness, or the risk of harm (including domestic violence).
- Attend training or childcare – for those entitled.
The National Trust has confirmed that its gardens, parks and countryside in England will remain open during the lockdown to allow local people to practice sports. Shops are closing, but some cafes offer take-away.
Some sites – but not Box Hill – have a booking system in place to limit capacity and help with social distancing. All National Trust locations in Wales are currently closed while homes in Northern Ireland are also closed.
Speaking about Box Hill this afternoon, Mr. Preedy added, “There are three levels of concern. One of these is the sheer number of vehicles exceeding parking space and we have very narrow streets.
“With Box Hill it's basically a little village at the top of the North Downs, there's a road that goes through the village and at the west end it goes into the National Trust area and it's a private road that goes through you Zigzag leads is at the heart of the Olympic cycle race.
“Since this is a private road, the National Trust can close it at will. When that's closed, Box Hill will be at the end of a mile and a half cul-de-sac.
“In the summer the bus couldn't turn because the parking was so random and they had to stop driving the bus. That happened probably eight times in the last six months and in November.
“It is a real problem that we are facing due to overcrowding and we are concerned that the emergency services will not be able to get through.
“Then when the crowd comes, we are socially distant. I won't go when it's full, but I get reports and that suggests they don't distance themselves all the time.
& # 39; The third question is whether this influx of people will introduce Covid to communities that have remained relatively untouched.
“Since we are a remote community and have the advantage of walking in the country, we are fortunate that we were released very easily. So we are very concerned.
“Part of the problem is that the government communication is not clear about how far it is appropriate to walk as part of your daily practice. I guess there are a lot of people from London and it's still a cycling mecca.
“It's a weekday, lots of people work – and still lots of cyclists. At the peak, when it's busy, stop at the National Trust position.
“I understand again that they want to ride and do sports, but at the points where they stop they cannot distance themselves socially.
“The National Trust is downsizing, they don't have the staff to manage it, the police don't have the numbers to do it, and we don't have unlimited Covid warfare to go around.
A family is walking in Surrey Box Hill Conservation Area this afternoon which is busy with visitors today
Couples and cyclists alike will enjoy the surroundings of Box Hill Conservation Area when visiting Surrey today
Two people walk a dog through Box Hill Conservation Area this afternoon while doing daily sports
People are queuing for a takeaway coffee at a cafe on the Box Hill, Surrey grounds this afternoon, which remains open to visitors
A family look at a parking meter in Box Hill car park in Surrey this afternoon as England's third lockdown continues
People are buying take-away refreshments this afternoon at a National Trust-run cafe in Box Hill Conservation Area
“It's a real problem, and I'm sure it's happening in other areas, especially those that are accessible from cities. Box Hill in particular is a destination that many people know about.
In the original lockdown, the National Trust closed the parking lots, but people parked on the streets. They blocked both ends of the road, but it moves the problem elsewhere. & # 39;
A National Trust spokesman told MailOnline, “We continue to work hard to keep the places we maintain open, safe and clean to visitors. But we need everyone's help to stay open safely.
“We know very well that people need to go outside and enjoy the fresh air, and we look forward to welcoming visitors to our outdoor spaces.
“But if many of us do this, it can have a huge impact on local communities as well as emergency services.
& # 39; We will be carefully monitoring visitor numbers during the week and will close our cafe on short notice (currently open only for take away) if the area is crowded.
& # 39; However, the cafe will close on weekends to help out any potential shortages. We have decided to keep our parking lots open to limit the parking of displaced persons in the surrounding villages and roadsides.
"We continue to urge people to follow government guidelines and stick to their local green spaces to exercise."
A dog walker looks out at the view of Box Hill Conservation Area, popular with visitors, this afternoon
Cars stand on the road outside Box Hill Nature Reserve this afternoon as visitors flock to their daily exercises
Cyclists and hikers enjoy the fresh air as they practice sports at Box Hill Nature Reserve in Surrey this afternoon
Visitors flock to Box Hill from London and elsewhere for panoramic views over the North Downs
During the initial lockdown, the National Trust began the gradual reopening of some gardens and parks in England on June 3, with 29 locations opening their gates.
Meanwhile, English Heritage today unveiled 19 major castles, houses and monuments that will remain open to people who wish to use them for sports during the country's third national lockdown.
The grounds of places such as Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, Walmer Castle in Kent and Longtown Castle in Herefordshire remain open to the public.
Londoners are allowed to stroll through the grounds of Eltham Palace near Greenwich, Kenwood House in Hampstead and Marble Hill House in Twickenham.
Those living in other parts of south east England can head to Audley End Gardens in Essex, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and Wrest Park in Bedfordshire.
The announcement comes after the government announced that people will still be able to visit public gardens and heritage sites during the new lockdown.
They are allowed to visit members of their household or a support bubble, and can attend with someone from another household when they are alone.
Other locations still open include Arbor Low Stone Circle and Gib Hill Barrow in the Peak District, Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire and Iron Bridge in Shropshire.
Also on the list are Mattersey Priory in Nottinghamshire, Byland Abbey in North Yorkshire and Castlerigg Stone Circle in Shropshire.
Other locations include Egglestone Abbey in County Durham, Furness Abbey in Cumbria, the Brodsworth Hall site in South Yorkshire, and Tynemouth Priory and Castle in Tyne and Wear.
A total of 200 freely accessible English heritage sites remain open, with the 19 most important ones highlighted today.
English Heritage car parks are generally closed when the site is closed. However, some parking spaces are operated by the local authorities so they may still be open.
All members and other visitors must pre-book tickets to restricted-numbered sites that are busy.
Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire has existed for 900 years, going from a medieval fortress to an Elizabethan palace. There is a mighty Norman keep and a majestic Great Hall on the site
Osborne House on the Isle of Wight is the palatial former holiday home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It has a colorful walled garden and a shaded forest walk
An English Heritage spokesperson said today: “We are keeping a range of locations open for local people to use for sports during the curfew.
“All of these locations offer plenty of outdoor space for safe social distancing. As before, visits to occupied locations must be booked in advance and the number is limited.
"Please stay local, heed the latest government advice, and note that you shouldn't travel outside of your area."
Staff urged people to avoid visiting if they or anyone in their household has symptoms of Covid-19.
They also urged visitors to follow government and website guidelines on social distancing and hygiene, only queue up when they can, and keep an eye on children.
However, some residents near open sites have raised concerns that despite the local only travel rules, people will travel long distances to visit them.
Julie McGrory of Silsoe, Bedfordshire, where Wrest Park is located, asked English Heritage on Twitter: “Can you confirm that you are checking that only locals book tickets in their respective village? In Silsoe, our residents remain concerned that people will travel to us despite the travel rules. & # 39;
Another Twitter user asked, "It's a good point – what do you make up as local?" Kenilworth Castle is 10 miles from me – is that local? & # 39;
English Heritage replied, “We ask everyone to follow government orders before planning a visit. The government has not defined what qualifies as a local visit. Unfortunately, we cannot advise how far you should travel. & # 39;
Marble Hill House is in Twickenham, South West London, in 66 acres of riverside parkland. It was built for Henrietta Howard, the mistress of King George II when he was Prince of Wales
Walmer Castle in Kent has eight acres of award-winning gardens and was once a Tudor artillery stronghold. It became a stately home for the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports
Eltham Palace near Greenwich in south east London has 19 acres of gardens and a striking Art Deco mansion. It was once a popular medieval palace and then a Tudor royal residence
English Heritage replied, & # 39; We understand your concerns and are opening the wrest park to locals only. We ask everyone to follow government directions when planning a visit. & # 39;
Tickets for Brodsworth Hall, Tynemouth Priory, Furness Abbey, Kenilworth Castle, Wrest Park, Audley End, Osborne, Walmer Castle and Eltham Palace must be booked online in advance.
Just before the first lockdown began last year, English Heritage initially closed all of its locations from March 18th to May 1st. This was then extended as the lockdown continued before six locations opened across the country on June 13.
Another 45 locations were opened in early July, most of which opened by August, but some remained closed.
Heritage organizations have seen their income decline during the pandemic, and the government gave them a financial boost last October to help.
The £ 103 million funding helped 445 organizations carry out repairs and maintenance on treasured heritage sites to keep the venues running.
Twelve organizations including English Heritage and Historic Royal Palaces received £ 34 million to resume construction and maintenance projects.
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) London (t) Coronavirus (t) Olympic Games (t) Coronavirus Lockdowns