AS A LOCAL, I have great sympathy with Robert Simms who was saddened and disappointed to find a gate and fence by the river at Houghton.

However I think he would have been very shocked to see the way the area has been treated by many (but of course not all) visitors during the last few summers and most especially this year.

Literally crowds of people - some of whom refused to move to allow walkers to go across the bridge in a socially distanced manner - but instead were verbally very abusive and threatening.

The police had to be called on at least two occasions.

Left behind for villagers to clear up - throwaway BBQs, glass and plastic bottles, nappies, dog mess, bags, food waste, used wet wipes etc.

These were left on the river bank as well as in the river.

The area is a site of special scientific interest and such litter apart from being extremely unpleasant also harms the natural environment.

The barbed wire, whilst unsightly, I imagine was intended to deter people from climbing over, but of course it didn't, and the mess has continued but thankfully to a lesser extent.

I too am very sad.

My own children used to play in the water - but I am more saddened by the way the area was being regularly trashed.

I am really hopeful that in time, people will learn to love and respect the environment and this access may again be opened up.

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