Dovestone - and still they come

Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date published: 08 January 2021

Despite freezing conditions and flurries of snow, the car park at Saddleworth’s most controversial beauty spot saw a steady stream of motorists arriving by lunchtime yesterday (Thursday). 

There was a mixture of families, couples and solo visitors determined to walk round Dovestone Reservoir, which has been subject to a massive invasion over the festive bank holiday weekend.

At one point last week, residents living in cottages in the shadow of the reservoir faced gridlocks and motorists  parked illegally on yellow lines causing an overflow into nearby Greenfield.

On Tuesday one local resident texted: “We are facing total chaos here.

"The place is rammed.”

A three-strong team of Dovestone marshals worked last weekend supervising the car park and turning visitors  away when they were full.

Oldham council said they had issued a stream of PCNs from December 27 until January 3, booking between 18 to 45 offenders a day, netting between £325, and up to £830 on December 28, in revenue.

RSPB Dovestones sent a social media note reminding the public of their responsibilities under the new lockdown on Wednesday night.

They asked people to follow Government guidance to stay at home, exercise locally, protect yourself and others.

They added “Dovestone and the surrounding area has been experiencing extremely high numbers of visitors, so we strongly encourage you to explore alternative local walks. 

“In line with Government guidance, landowners United Utilities will keep the car park at Dovestone open to allow for local, essential, daily exercise only."

If you visit Dovestone, UU issued the following advice:

We strongly urge you to follow the legislation around non-essential travel and please visit your most local nature reserves and green spaces only.

Please follow all current Government guidance around social distancing, who you can visit with, hygiene and follow all signage on-site.

They added warnings - 'Do not swim in our reservoirs, and do not start fires or BBQ. Take rubbish home'.

Masked and keeping social distancing, I spent more than an hour at Dovestone car park over lunchtime yesterday.

Visitors remained evasive when I asked them how far they had travelled to visit the reservoir.

And in an avalanche of responses on social media I was later challenged about my investigation, which was conducted at a safe distance. 

But in order to maintain the production and distribution of trusted, verified news, the Government has confirmed  news media organisations are deemed a key public service, and journalists and key ancillary staff have been given the status of key workers.

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