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Empty car parks around Caithness at Easter


By David G Scott

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COASTAL car parks around Caithness that would normally have been filled over the Easter weekend were empty as most people heeded the lockdown advice.

Highland Council car parks at Noss Head and Reiss beach were among those cordoned off with cones and marker tape to deter visitors.

The local authority closed 15 of its car parks at beauty spots across the north Highlands – a third of them in Caithness – to help limit the spread of Covid-19. The car parks at Duncansby Head, Dunnet Head and Dunnet Bay are shut, along with those at Noss and Reiss.

A coastguard vehicle drove around various car parks in Caithness advising people to stay away.Pictures: DGS
A coastguard vehicle drove around various car parks in Caithness advising people to stay away.Pictures: DGS

Signs that looked hurriedly made were posted up close to the sites to warn visitors that these car parks were now out of bounds.

Coastguard personnel patrolled throughout the county to "advise" people trying to access coastal walks to drive back home and stay safe.

A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "We know how much everyone loves the coast. We do too.

"But while we can’t ask you to stay away, we’d really like to ask you to look at the latest Covid-19 advice and think about it before you go out.

A scribbled sign set up at Staxigoe advising drivers that the car park three miles away at Noss Head was closed.
A scribbled sign set up at Staxigoe advising drivers that the car park three miles away at Noss Head was closed.

"When you’re at the coast, we’re always on call in case things go wrong and we will always respond.

"The more people who come to the coast, the more likely it is our teams will be called out and the more risk there is not only of exposing them to coronavirus but placing our teams in danger.

"The UK’s coastline offers fresh air, scenery and escapism amid the ongoing and developing outbreak, but it is essential to follow government guidance at all times and practise safe social distancing, and – where possible – stay safe at home.

Noss Head car park was completely empty on Easter Sunday.
Noss Head car park was completely empty on Easter Sunday.

"As a frontline emergency service, it is our priority to keep you safe but that is much easier for us to do when people take fewer risks and enjoy themselves responsibly.

“During these difficult moments, the operational capability of HM Coastguard is continually being reviewed and assessed on a day-to-day, case-by-case basis – so it is really essential that you are aware of our safety guidance.

“HM Coastguard remains able and prepared to help anyone who needs our assistance.

A flock of sheep were the only 'visitors' at Noss Head car park on Easter Sunday.
A flock of sheep were the only 'visitors' at Noss Head car park on Easter Sunday.

“However, to best support our emergency services, and particularly the health service, we advise people to pay attention to their safety and to not take unnecessary risks.

“While we realise it is important that people exercise and will want to go to the coast to help their mental health, you need to take extra care when walking on beaches and along coastal paths.

“If you are going to use the water, do not take risks and go with a friend who can raise the alarm if you get into difficulty.

"And, as ever, call 999 and ask for the coastguard should you get into trouble.”

For safety guidance about the beach, coast or sea and the work of the coastguard visit https://coastguardsafety.campaign.gov.uk


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