Northumberland reopening country parks - but coastal car parks to remain closed

Bolam Lake Country ParkBolam Lake Country Park
Bolam Lake Country Park | JPIMedia Resell
Northumberland County Council has announced its four country parks will reopen on May 13 – but its coastal car parks will remain closed for now.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday night and the updated guidance which followed, as of Wednesday, people are allowed to spend more time outdoors, including going to parks and beaches to sunbathe, have a picnic or go fishing.

People are also permitted to travel further to enjoy their time outside, with no restrictions on how far they can go to get to the countryside, national parks and beaches in England, although the Government says that they should check in advance of visiting places like national parks and beaches to make sure they are prepared for visitors.

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Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “Following revised guidance issued by the Government, the council needs to take time to understand fully what the Government’s plan means for Northumberland and its impact on our residents.

“After careful consideration, the county’s four country parks will reopen on the morning of Wednesday, May 13, at Druridge Bay, Bolam Lake, Plessey Woods and Tyne Riverside. The play areas will remain closed.

“The safety of the public is and must be our absolute priority. We are currently undertaking further detailed risk assessments to understand how our car parks across the county can safely be opened, in order to apply social distancing, manage risk and avoid further spread of the virus.

“We feel this is the right thing to do to protect our communities, and further announcements will be made in the coming days once these are complete.

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“We ask people to continue to make only essential journeys, stay home wherever possible and respect the safety of our communities.”

The coastal car parks that have been closed since March include Spittal, Bamburgh, Holy Island, Seahouses, Craster, Beadnell, Newton Steads, Low Newton, Warkworth Beach, Amble Braid, Cresswell Dunes, Blyth Mermaid, Beachway and Ranch car parks, Fountain Head and Old Hartley car parks, Seaton Sluice.

Northumberland Tourism’s chairman David Hall issued a statement today, in which he said that ‘until the virus is under control, we ask visitors to stay away to protect our communities’.

While the organisation ‘stands poised and ready to promote our world-class destination when the time is right’, he added: “For now however, we ask everyone to act responsibly, to respect the virus, and return only when it’s safe to do so.”

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On Monday, the Northumberland National Park Authority said that it is ‘digesting what the Prime Minister’s statement means and looking at how it can safely prepare’, stating that it will release further details as soon as it can.

‘In the meantime, people are still encouraged to avoid unnecessary travel to the national park’, the statement added.

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