WILD camping has been banned in the Kielder Water and Forest Park after an increase in littering and damage, the authority has announced. 

In a post on social media this week, Kielder Water and Forest Park said: "Sadly due to continued illegal camping taking place (thankfully this is reducing slightly) and items being left behind for our staff to gather up, damage to habits, we are unable for the remainder of 2020 to allow any form of wild camping.

"This includes the limited locations with permission where backpackers have enjoyed a night under stars in remote locations. 

"In the last fortnight we again have had to deal with illegal camps."

The authority said it had reported details of specific information to do with the latest discovery of an abandoned camp to Northumbria Police. 

Neighbourhood Sergeant Kate Benson, of Northumbria Police, said: "We are aware of concerns from the Forestry Commission about illegal camping at Kielder and have been working closely with them to address the issue.

"We have stepped up patrols in the area and if we find anyone camping illegally then they will be moved on.

"Kielder is an incredibly beautiful place that is enjoyed by residents and tourists throughout the year and deserves to be shown a bit of respect.

"It is not acceptable for individuals to behave in this way, destroying the environment and leaving rubbish littered throughout the forest.

"We are committed to working with both the Forestry Commission and the local authority to clampdown on this kind of activity so we can preserve the local environment."

However, there has been a backlash from regular wild campers in the area who have questioned the decision to penalise "responsible backpackers or bikepackers who adhere to the principles of minimum impact and leave no trace."

In May, reports of an illegal party in the Kielder Castle car park forced the closure of two car parks in Kielder, shortly after they reopened to the public

Rangers collected rubbish, including a tent, that had been left in the aftermath of the party. 

Patrols would work into the night to prevent similar gatherings reoccurring, the authority said.

The statement added: "We do want people to enjoy camping at Kielder and we are delighted that Kielder campsite is open again so this can happen in a controlled way.

"We would like to thank everyone in camper vans who have left no trace of the overnight- thank you, we really appreciate this."

Campervans and adapted camping vehicles are permitted overnight at Kielder Castle Car Park, Tower Knowe Car Park and also Elf Kirk Viewing Point for £10 per night.

Booking is online only at https://kieldercampsite.co.uk/ and identification will be required to ensure caring campers only camp at Kielder.