Plan ahead message underlined as NRW announces plans to reopen the great Welsh outdoors

Planning ahead will be the key to a safe and enjoyable return to the great Welsh outdoors, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) said today as it confirmed that it will open more of its outdoor sites, including most mountain bike trails, from 6 July.

NRW has kept nearly all of the reserves, woodland and forests that it manages open for local recreation during the coronavirus outbreak, but the car parks and attractions were closed in line with national safety measures.

Since then, steps have been taken to give people more access to the countryside around them with the reopening of some car parks across Wales.

And as travel restrictions are expected to be eased further on 6 July, NRW has been working over recent weeks to make preparations for the safe return of more visitors to more of its sites.

Decisions on which sites to open have been taken in collaboration with partners, including local authorities and the Police, and taking account of community circumstances.

All mountain bike trails will reopen on Monday apart from those at Brechfa Forest and Cwm Rhaeadr where ongoing forestry operations continue.

Visitor centre buildings, cafés and play areas will not be open for some time, and some sites will remain closed due to harvesting operations or where local conditions suggest a high volume of visitors could be unmanageable.

Temporary toilet facilities will be available at some sites for a short period until all necessary safety measures can be completed on the permanent facilities.

Clare Pillman, CEO of Natural Resources Wales said:

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming visitors back to explore Wales’ unique sights, sounds and open spaces that we have all missed so dearly over recent weeks and months.
“Our main priority will be to ensure we can provide a welcoming experience for people hoping to visit our sites as they reopen. Coronavirus remains a threat to us all and we all have a duty to take all precautions to minimise the risk to ourselves, our colleagues and to other visitors.
“For NRW, this will mean doing everything we need to do to ensure our facilities are prepared for people to return safely. For our visitors, this will mean taking personal responsibility for making additional preparations ahead of your visit and knowing what to expect at each destination before you arrive.
“That is why we’re encouraging all our visitors to plan ahead and to check our website before travelling for information on facilities available at each of our locations.”

NRW is asking visitors to consider six steps to a safe return, designed to encourage people to check details around their destination prior to travelling, in recognition that access to services and facilities could be restricted.

Six steps to a safe return

Plan ahead
Be aware that visitor centre buildings are closed, and temporary toilet facilities are in place at some sites.

Keep your distance
Make every effort to maintain the required social distance on our trails.
Take time to read the guidance for each site on the NRW website and adhere to the advice on signage at each location which will differ from site to site.

Park responsibly
Respect the local community by parking responsibly at designated car parks.
Do not park on verges or block emergency access routes.

Be patient and respectful
Some sites may be busier than others so be prepared to return home and return at a quieter time.

Tread lightly

Respect the plant and wildlife which have thrived over recent weeks.
By nurturing and respecting Wales’ outstanding landscapes now, we can ensure that they will be there for future generations to enjoy.

Follow the Countryside Code
Stick to trails, keep dogs under control, take litter home, leave gates as you find them and don’t block entrances or gateways.

Richard Owen, team leader for estate recreation planning and land stewardship at NRW said:

“We want everyone to enjoy their visits to our sites, but things will inevitably look a little different for the foreseeable future.
“We need to make sure that our local communities feel safe and visitors have the confidence to visit NRW’s locations in the safest way possible.
“We hope that we can all work together during this time of transition to the full reopening of the countryside. One thing that will not have changed is the warmth of the welcome of Wales’ natural environment. We look forward to seeing visitors venturing back on to our trails, reserves and into our woodlands over the coming weeks."

More information about which of sites will be open and what to expect will be updated regularly on a section of the ‘Days Out’ page on the NRW website.