Hill farmer urges visitors to stop using uplands as 'playground'

The future of hill farming is 'very bleak' due to a lack of respect from visitors (Photo: Beth Holt/Facebook)
The future of hill farming is 'very bleak' due to a lack of respect from visitors (Photo: Beth Holt/Facebook)

A hill farmer has criticised visitors to the countryside who treat upland areas as a 'playground' with bikes and 4x4s, creating a trail of 'mess and devastation' for local farms and wildlife.

Beth Holt, a sheep farmer from the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, took to social media to call out the 'grown men' who 'shred moorland to pieces' with illegal activity.

Beth, whose family owns an upland flock of predominantly Swaledale ewes, issued a viral plea which has been shared over 6,500 times.

"My family have farmed the same farm for generations and it is now facing hugely unprecedented times and is under a threat of no longer being home to grazing livestock at all.

"The biggest issue our uplands face is it is treated as a playground for grown men to travel to, along with their motocross, enduro bikes, 4x4’s and friends."

She said the problem had grown in popularity over the last 10 years, and the increase in mainly adult men using moorland to exercise their motocross bikes had reached an 'overwhelming statistic'.

Groups of up to 20 bikes have been sighted and photographed, creating 'mess and devastation' on a significant scale.

As well as being the home to upland farming businesses, the moorland sustains several species of birds including Twite, Curlews & Lapwings.

"It is actually illegal to use these moorlands for these purposes and the landowners and graziers have been plagued with this activity 365 days a year," Beth said.

"I can talk in depth of scenarios where our ewes have become trapped in motorbike ruts, bogged up to their necks in a peaty soup.

"Only if they are lucky, they are stumbled across in time by their shepherd or a kind rambler who helps them out of their black, wet grave."

She went on to say that the future of hill farming looked 'very bleak' due to the issue, as the land was being 'torn apart'.

"Our villages in the valley bottoms now flood due to an increase in water which the peat can no longer store," Beth said.

"What a sad and sorry future our local area has ahead of it. Things need to change."