POLICE have warned the public to stay away from Pendle Hill after a dog walker became lost on the East Lancashire beauty spot.

Neighbourhood police officers and mountain rescue volunteers had to be sent up to find the woman who asked for help four hours after first setting off on her walk yesterday.

Police have also seen breaches in coronavirus social distancing guidelines, with large numbers of people parking in the car park at the bottom of Pendle Hill before going off on a ramble.

Insp Scott Boast said police resources were already stretched – as a result of policing the coronvirus lockdown and some officers having to socially isolate themselves – and the last thing they needed was people treating the current crisis as a holiday.

Insp Boast said: "Yesterday we had a woman who went up Pendle Hill for a walk with her dog. Four hours later she rang us saying she had got lost and she had no idea where she was. We had officers and mountain rescue volunteers up Pendle Hill trying to find this woman.

"I understand that we live in a beautiful part of the world and people want to take advantage of that but this is not a holiday period, we are in the middle of a global pandemic.

"We are busy enough without having to dedicate resources to finding people who have got lost up Pendle Hill.

"We have also got issues with a large volume of people parking at the bottom of Pendle Hill before going up for a walk. Because they are congregating so close to each other they are not adhering to social distancing guidelines.

"My simple message is stay away. This is not a holiday, listen to the Government advice and stay indoors."

A spokesman for the Pendle Hill HLF Project said: "It may be a lovely day, the forecast for the rest of the week may look great - but please remember we are in a lockdown situation. Please can we urge everyone to follow the Government guidelines which have been put in place to keep everyone safe.

"We are still seeing a huge number of cars travelling to popular walking destinations. This is unnecessary travel and you are putting yourself, your family and friends, and the local rural communities at huge risk. Please use the opportunity once a day to walk from your own front door, along a quieter route adhering to the social distancing measures. We are all in this together.

"Please do not travel unless for food, health reasons and work (where absolutely necessary).

"The Pendle Hill landscape will be there when we get through all this."