A HIGH-level review is to take place after a weekend of frustration and anger when hundreds of motorists ignored the government’s appeal to stay at home and invaded a controversial beauty spot.

The trips to Dovestone Reservoir, Greenfield were seen as a sign of a much wider picture of confusion and disregard for rules surrounding the first weekend of a nationwide lockdown.

Critics say Dovestone is constantly featured as a must-visit beauty spot which had tempted motorists from across the north west to break the lockdown and make the journey.

On Saturday and Sunday the car park, manned by a team of Dovestone marshals, was full within in an hour of opening and despite biting cold and icy conditions, the nearby A635 Greenfield to Holmfirth was packed with visitors parking illegally.

Ahead of the weekend stampede, United Utilities underlined the government’s warning NOT to travel to their sites - including beleaguered Dovestone.

A spokesperson said: “The message from government is that people should not be travelling to exercise and we are reiterating that at all of our sites. including Dovestone.

“We're also reminding visitors they need to observe social distancing, stay in their household bubbles and observe the countryside code.

“We'll be reviewing the situation again over Dovestone after the weekend.”

The Oldham Times has campaigned for changes at the site to protect locals and provide a pleasurable visitor experience has been taken up by MP Debbie Abrahams, after a summit meeting spearheaded by Dr Andrew Taylor chair of the Grasscroft and Greenfield Residents Association.

But the onset of the pandemic added another dimension of visitor problems at the site which was compounded by weekend traffic problems, gridlocks and vehicles spilling into Greenfield itself.

A team of Dovestone marshals have been involved site at weekends diligently supervising traffic since last year.

Superintendent Andrew Sidebotham, leading GMP's response to Covid-19, said: "Officers continue to police using the four Es approach - engage, explain, encourage, enforce - and will patrol hotspot areas where the public report large or repeated breaches of regulations.

"I urge the public to think before travelling and ask those who can to stay local if possible.

"Certain places of beauty and areas can get extremely busy, making social distancing difficult and a high number of people in on area increases the rate at which the virus can spread.

"Protect yourself, your loved ones and the NHS by staying at home if possible."

However, there was a tragic spin-off to the weekend drama with a respected third generation farming family losing two ewes from their 200 in lamb flock after they had eaten poisonous plants.

Claire Crowther said: “We had to cut fences to get into our sheep. It was absolutely horrendous.The two ewes died by eating rhododendrons because we couldn't get fodder to them fast enough.

“If this continues we will lose more hence we will have to start very early morning again. But when we feed in the dark we cannot see if any ewes need help or not.”