Officials deal with more than 200 people wild camping in Lake District | Lake District

More than 200 people have been caught wild camping in the Lake District, with 20 people fined for having a party on one of the fells and others lighting fires on summits.

The party took place on Saturday night on Catbells, one of the most popular hills in the Lakes, which offers panoramic views over Keswick, Derwent Water and Borrowdale.

It came after weeks of complaints from residents about rubbish left behind by visitors, including wheelie suitcases and tents abandoned on the fells.

Officials from the Lake District national park, the National Trust, Forestry England and Cumbria county council and police spent Saturday night “educating” those breaking lockdown rules, prohibiting overnight stays and fining those who refused to pack up and go home.

Tony Watson, head of communications for the Lake District National Park, tweeted: “Our teams and those of our partners have spoken to over 200 individuals tonight. From 20 people partying on Catbells, to people camping with fires on summit cairns, to people who’ve driven miles down paths to camp, to drunken camps by tarns and everything in between.

“Many left politely after our teams and those of our partners spoke to them. Those who wouldn’t follow a reasonable request were fined.”

He shamed one group who smashed up wooden handrails and used them as firewood and another who had set up camp in a dried up reservoir just before a storm was due to hit.

Lake District residents have been aghast at the rubbish left behind by visitors since Boris Johnson relaxed lockdown restrictions in May, telling people they could drive as far as they wanted to take exercise.

Last week one local walker found an abandoned wheelie case and tent up by Angle Tarn, above the Patterdale valley.

“It’s quite upsetting. It’s trying to understand that mindset,” Christine Kenyon from Glenridding told The Westmorland Gazette. “That I can drag all this stuff up here, because somehow they got a wheely suitcase up, and I can just leave it and somebody else will pick it up. There were towels and socks, bits of tissue strewn about. I’ve lived here for 25 years and I’ve come across rubbish but nothing like this.”

Cumbria police used social media to remind visitors that overnight stays in the Lake District are prohibited until 4 July.

In normal times wild camping is only ever permitted on the Lake District’s higher fells. “Even under usual circumstances, we can’t allow wild camping in lowland areas on our land, especially on lake shores,” the National Trust said. “We’re sad to say that our rangers and national park partners spend hundreds of hours each week clearing up litter and left-over equipment.”