An open letter

An open letter from Park Authority Chief Executive Dr Kevin Bishop: 13 May 2020

I am writing this open letter to you today as new government measures set out what we can and cannot do to limit the spread of Covid-19.

On behalf of Dartmoor National Park Authority, its members and staff, I want to express my deepest gratitude and thanks to everyone for their positive action throughout the last seven weeks of lockdown.

Your continued support means we’ve all played a part in protecting each other, and the communities we live and work in, during this incredibly challenging time.

I know many of you will be looking forward to visiting Dartmoor and will be keen to drive here from your home to enjoy a welcome respite of fresh moorland air.

But, understandably, residents and businesses are concerned about the impact the new measures will have on them.

As an Authority, we are working hard to prepare for the easing of lockdown restrictions and doing it in the safest way possible for everyone – you, our staff and our communities - remains our top priority.

For now, we have opened our car parks. Our public toilets and visitor centres will only open when it’s safe to do so and social distancing can be maintained.

Dartmoor is a very different place to what you’re used to. Many tourism businesses remain closed as do pubs, cafes, restaurants and public facilities.

But it is still a living, working landscape: businesses are working to ensure essential supplies and access to key services for local people, and farmers are busy with lambing and calving.

We all need to keep doing our bit to control the spread of Covid-19 and every single action you take will make a difference. If you do come to Dartmoor, please can you:

  • Keep your distance from other people in line with social distancing guidelines at all times.
  • Clean your hands regularly. Bring hand gel for use after touching shared surfaces (gates, stiles etc).
  • Keep your dog on a lead at all times.
  • Avoid paths through farmyards or gardens and not lingering longer than necessary.

The virus has touched all our lives and my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. Amongst the grief and the anxiety there have been countless examples of altruism, kindness and compassion: volunteers delivering essential supplies to the vulnerable, our NHS and critical workers working throughout the pandemic, community groups finding new ways to connect people to each other to reduce social isolation, and many more.

Our communities have rallied around. It has been very touching to see, and their efforts are to be applauded.

On Dartmoor, wildlife is adapting to the absence of humans. For example, birds nesting in new areas so we’re asking that you keep a lookout for them by treading lightly and listening carefully. You’ll find them on the ground as well as trees which is why we are asking you to keep dogs on leads at all times.

Our Rangers continue to work with Devon and Cornwall Police to ensure you’re kept safe; they are here to help look after you and this special landscape. They will always appreciate a friendly wave and a hello from a safe distance! 

You can help them continue to care for the environment following the Ranger Code and leaving no trace of your visit.

Don’t forget you can get your Dartmoor fix from your home  - we’ve got a great website section where you can ‘learn in lockdown’ - or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Once again, many thanks to you all. Please continue to be kind and respectful, not just of each other, but of our National Park and everything that lives within it. For now, stay alert, stay safe and look after yourselves. 

Kind regards,  

Dr Kevin Bishop

Chief Executive, Dartmoor National Park Authority