VISITING groups of motorcyclists didn’t endear themselves to the police or residents of the Yorkshire Dales last weekend.

Despite pleas from many quarters to stay away from North Yorkshire’s scenic areas, groups of up to nine motorcyclists were using the relatively traffic-free roads through Wensleydale as a racetrack on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

North Yorkshire Police made valiant efforts to stem the flow of high powered two-wheelers but with little to attract visitors with most food outlets, car parks and toilets closed, they still came in numbers.

Hawes was a popular stop-off spot until North Yorkshire County Council Highways placed no waiting cones along the High Street; officers were in evidence in a firm but fair manner encouraging the visitors to leave.

Many of the visitors unable to use the closed toilets took to using a wall or space near the toilets to relieve themselves. This caused many residents to speak out regarding the nuisance and engine noise, and they were subject to torrent of abuse via social media.

Two speed cameras were in operation in Upper Wensleydale – a mobile van and a traffic officer. The highest speed recorded was a staggering 97 mph along the A684. The offender could face disqualification.

Toilets and car parks at the National Park centre at Aysgarth Falls were open and well-used with those seeking somewhere to take legitimate exercise. A group of motorcyclists gathered on the yellow lines along Church Bank rather than the official car park.

In Leyburn some visitors were in evidence with the largest group of two-wheeled riders discreetly tucked away at Bellerby’s Manor Farm Café enjoying take-away hot drinks. Officers did visit and were satisfied that they were correctly socially distancing in the warm afternoon sun.

Other areas of the county including Swaledale also reported problems.

Commenting on the large number of motorcycles that have been seen in the Yorkshire Dales since the lockdown rules were altered, Inspector Mark Gee said: "We know that the majority of riders don't want to cause any harm or upset to local communities, but they need to realise that if they break the law as it stands the police will have to take action."