A HEARTFELT appeal to keep one of Oldham’s most iconic visitor attractions safe and beautiful this summer has been issued.

Dovestone in the Peak District National Park at Greenfield Saddleworth has experienced devastating effects.

With warmer weather on the way, staff from the RSPB who manage the site, along with landowners United Utilities, and partners the Peak District National Park, Life for a Life Memorial Forests, and Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire Service have launched a joint appeal to those planning a visit.

Miriam Biran, RSPB visitor experience manager at Dovestone, said: “It’s great to see folk out enjoying nature and all the health and well-being benefits that brings, but this is a plea to all visitors to observe and respect some simple countryside rules which protect the area and the wildlife which calls it home, while also leaving the site clean and tidy for others to enjoy.”

The message from the partners is simple and applies to all visitors to Dovestone:

No lighting fires

No BBQs allowed anywhere on site

Take all litter home

Dogs must be on leads from April – July (and in certain areas from March – August).

Park responsibly, take notice of double yellow lines and follow instructions from the Dovestone marshals.

Miriam added: "There are good reasons for these rules being in place, they are not there to stop people from having fun. Everyone will remember the heart breaking fires of last summer and we have already seen a number of these occurring this year.

“This is why no fires or barbecues are allowed onsite. The risk of them getting out of control is simply too high. Litter also causes problems – it is both unsightly and a danger to wildlife and livestock, as well as being a fire hazard. Glass in particular, along with discarded cigarette butts is a real fire threat.”

Sadly, some fires have been started deliberately by arsonists, so the partnership urge visitors to call the fire service on 999 immediately if smoke or flames are spotted, as the faster they are under control, the less damage they do to the landscape, wildlife and livestock.

Wildlife and livestock are at risk if dogs are not kept under control. Dovestone welcomes dogs and their careful owners, but there are some simple ways to ensure the site is treated with respect.

Dogs must be on a lead from April to July to protect sheep with lambs which are especially vulnerable to dog attacks - and happen in the area too frequently.

There are also a variety of birds which nest on the ground. The parents, their eggs and chicks can easily be disturbed by dogs, so dogs should be on leads during nesting season from March-August. Dog mess should be cleaned up and placed in bins.

On sunny weekends and holidays, there are marshals on site, funded by Oldham Council, the RSPB, United Utilities, Peak District National Park and Life for a Life Memorial Forests, to help spread and enforce these messages.

The Greater Manchester Fire Service have also recently trained up more volunteers to support with fire patrols around the Peak District National Park. This is all making a positive difference.

Miriam added: “If everyone sticks to these simple rules then Dovestone can remain a fantastic home to nature and a place for all to enjoy.”

Dovestone reservoir is owned by United Utilities and the water company works in partnership with the RSPB, who manage the estate.

The partnership aims to encourage public access and recreation, while protecting water quality and wildlife for future generations.