It’s that time of year again, when everyone is excited about summer and looking forward to better weather and spending more time outdoors. Dove Stone, in common with other areas of natural beauty and coastlines up and down the country, will see an increase in visitors especially over the weekends and holidays.
The site, near Oldham is situated in the Peak District National Park and so is popular with people from the surrounding areas as a place to spend some time in the fresh air with friends and family. While most visitors are responsible countryside users and treat the area with respect, sadly the site experiences others not doing so and the effects can be devastating.
With warmer weather on the way, staff from the RSPB who manage the site, along with landowners United Utilities, and partners the Peak District National Park, Life for a Life Memorial Forests, and both the Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire Service have launched a heart-felt joint appeal to those planning a visit to Dove Stone.
Miriam Biran, RSPB Visitor Experience Manager at Dove Stone said: “It’s great to see folk out enjoying nature and all the health and well-being benefits that brings, but this is a plea to all visitors to observe and respect some simple countryside rules which protect the area and the wildlife which calls it home, whilst also leaving the site clean and tidy for others to enjoy.”
The message from the partners is simple and applies to all visitors to Dove Stone:
- No lighting fires
- No BBQs allowed anywhere on site
- Take all litter home
- Dogs must be on leads from April – July (and in certain areas from March – August)
- Please park responsibly, take notice of double yellow lines and follow instructions from our marshals.
Miriam added: ‘There are good reasons for these rules being in place, they are not there to stop people from having fun. Everyone will remember the heart breaking fires of last summer and we have already seen a number of these occurring this year too. This is why no fires or BBQs are allowed on-site. The risk of them getting out of control is simply too high. Litter also causes problems – it is both unsightly and a danger to wildlife and livestock, as well as being a fire hazard. Glass in particular, along with discarded cigarette butts is a real fire threat.”
Sadly, some fires have been started deliberately by arsonists, so the partnership urge visitors to call the fire service on 999 immediately if smoke or flames are spotted, as the faster they are under control, the less damage they do to the landscape, wildlife and livestock.
Wildlife and livestock are also at risk if dogs are not kept under control. Dove Stone welcomes dogs and their careful owners, but there are some simple ways to ensure the site is treated with respect. Dogs must be on a lead from April-July to protect sheep with lambs which are especially vulnerable to dog attacks - and happen in the area too frequently.
There are also a variety of birds which nest on the ground. The parents, their eggs and chicks can easily be disturbed by dogs, so dogs should be on leads during nesting season from March-August. Dog poo should also be cleaned up and placed in the bins provided.
On sunny weekends and holidays there are marshals on site, funded by Oldham Council, the RSPB, United Utilities, Peak District National Park and Life for a Life Memorial Forests, to help spread and enforce these messages. The Greater Manchester Fire Service have also recently trained up more volunteers to support with fire patrols around the Peak District National Park. This is all making a positive difference.
Miriam concluded: “If everyone sticks to these simple rules then Dove Stone can remain a fantastic home to nature and a place for all to enjoy.”
Dove Stone reservoir is owned by United Utilities and the water company works in partnership with the RSPB, who manage the estate. The partnership aims to encourage public access and recreation, while protecting water quality and wildlife for future generations.