Scottish beauty spot car parks closed to stop mass gatherings

Tinto Hill site shut after thousands flocked to South Lanarkshire peak.

Barriers have been erected to prevent drivers using the Tinto Hill car park. Picture: Quothquan and Thankerton Community.

Car parks at country parks, reservoirs and lochs are being sealed off to prevent large numbers of people congregating.

The move comes in the run up to Easter this weekend.

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Edinburgh City Council has closed its car parks beside parks but several car parks run by Historic Environment Scotland in Holyrood Park remain open.

Elsewhere, car parks closed include at Tinto Hill, a popular climb in South Lanarkshire, where locals said thousands of people had walked up two weeks ago.

It is understood police traced vehicles parked there from as far away as Ayrshire.

Scottish Water said essential work at one of its reservoirs in Midlothian had had to be temporarily halted because people were coming too close to its engineers.

The Scottish Government has told people to stay 2m away from each other and only exercise near their home.

Signs to discourage people from driving to Tinto Hill to exercise. Picture: Quothquan and Thankerton Community.

Barry Knock, chair of Quothquan and Thankerton Community Council, which covers the Tinto Hill area, said: “We are sorry to have to report that South Lanarkshire Council have found it necessary to close Tinto Hill, its car park and impose parking restrictions on Lochlyoch Road.

“If only people had heeded the advice issued by the Scottish Government to STAY HOME, PROTECT THE NHS, SAVE LIVES, this wouldn't have been necessary.

“The closure is to stop a repeat of the crazy situation which saw an estimated 3,000 people on the hill, many driving large distances to reach us, on the last good weather Sunday.”

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South Lanarkshire Council confirmed the Tinto Hill closure among those made on police advice.

Its spokesperson said: “After discussions with Police Scotland, we have closed the car parks at the following parks to encourage compliance with government advice on not travelling far to undertake exercise:

· Calderglen Country Park, East Kilbride

· Lanark Loch and Racecourse area

· James Hamilton Heritage Park, East Kilbride

· Castlebank Park, Lanark

· Chatelherault Country Park, Hamilton

“The advice remains that people who can exercise should still do so once a day, such as by taking a walk, a run of cycle.However, exercise should only be with members of the same household, and people should not congregate or travel far to get their exercise.”

“We have been in touch with the police about people accessing Chatelherault Country Park by vehicles.

“Unfortunately the park does not have any physical gates that can be closed.

“We have placed signage as well as cones to prevent unauthorised vehicle access at the road entrance and understand the police will be carrying out spot checks from now on.

“This has been done for everyone’s safety and it is incredibly selfish and irresponsible if anyone thinks it is OK to move the cones to get access.

“We would ask that people refrain from doing so and we will pass any information on to the police.”

The council today also closed children’s play areas, following the lead of other local authorities such as Glasgow.

Its spokesperson said: “We appreciate this will disappoint some residents, but the decision is in line with the latest advice from the Scottish Government on social distancing to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“Closing our play parks will help prevent congregation and will also prevent indirect contact via play equipment.

“Signage is being posted at all play parks to ask people to comply with the closure.”

Scottish Water said it has had to erect warning signs at reservoirs such as Gladhouse, south of Gorebridge, over social distancing because walkers were getting too close to its workforce.

It has also closed car parks at Glencorse and Threipmuir reservoirs In the Pentlands regional park, south of Edinburgh.

The car park at Mugdock reservoir in Milngavie, north of Glasgow, was also shut after large numbers of people were seen walking there.

Scottish Water’s car parks at piers on Loch Katrine in the Trossachs Katrine have also closed.

Anglers have been told to stop fishing.

A Scottish Water spokesman said: "Our reservoirs are vital operational assets which are critical to ensure water supply to customers is maintained and we recognise they can be popular sites for people to visit.

“Our employees need to carry out essential work at these locations and we would ask people to maintain distance from them if they are exercising on pathways around reservoirs.

"Our priority remains the supply of water to 5 million people in Scotland, taking away and cleaning the water they use and ensuring the safety of customers and our employees."

Renfrewshire Council has already closed car parks at beauty spots, including Gleniffer Braes and Castle Semple Loch.

But Historic Environment Scotland said it had not shut car parks in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh.

A spokesperson said: “Some car parks in Holyrood Park remain open, with pay and display requirements suspended, for practical and operational reasons.

“They remain open for those with mobility issues and one car park is used by local residents who live nearby

“However, we’re continuing to review and monitor in line with [Scottish] Government guidance.”

“Our rangers are working a reduced service to patrol the park and work closely with Police Scotland to monitor car park use, taking further action as required.

“The rest of our visitor attractions are closed and our staff are working from home in line with government advice.

“Staff are not available on site for support or to enforce parking closures across our estate, and we’re asking the public to avoid travelling to use these car parking spaces.”

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