THE National Trust has joined calls urging people not to take barbecues to North Yorkshire’s national parks, amid concerns some visitors are ignoring warnings that they could spark wildfires.

The trust, which owns numerous wildlife-rich sites that are vulnerable to fire in the county, including Roseberry Topping, Rievalux Terrace, Bridestones, Crosscliff and Blakey Topping, Bransdale and Scarthwood Moor, said there had been a significant rise in people bringing barbecues to the countryside as lockdown eases.

In response to concerns protected landscapes could see a repeat of a fire in 2003 which saw more than 100 firefighters battle a fire that destroyed more than four square miles of Fylingdales Moor, started by a barbecue or discarded cigarette in a rubbish bin, extreme fire signs have been placed across the North York Moors.

After fires in 1976 parts of the North York Moors were compared to scenes from the sci-fi film The Day The Earth Caught Fire. About 1,500 acres were destroyed across Rosedale Moor, where the fire burned so far down into the peat that the land smouldered for months.

The increase in people barbecuing at beauty spots in the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales national parks has come despite appeals from both authorities for visitors not to take barbecues to the areas, stating a dry spring had heightened fire risks. Recent rainfall has not stopped the landscapes from being at fire risk following the record-breaking sunny spring, the conservation organisation said.

The trust said the late May bank holiday saw beauty spots such as Roseberry Topping and Scarthwood Moor record their busiest day ever for visitor numbers.

It added rangers were seeing an increase in litter, which can increase the risk of fires, as well as people using disposable barbecues or making fires.

The warning comes after a series of fires at beauty spots across the country devastated large areas, leading to a campaign to ban the sale of disposable barbeques gaining more than ten thousand signatures.

Recent blazes, with unknown causes, have seen heathland that is home to lizards and tiger beetles burned, and one on Marsden Moor, West Yorkshire, after which burnt curlew eggs were found.

The annual moorland burning season is over so any moorland fire is a wildfire and should be reported to the emergency services immediately.

Ben McCarthy, head of nature conservation at the National Trust, said: “We know that people have missed the outdoors and open spaces these past few months - and we’re really pleased to be welcoming them back. But we’re urging people not to bring barbecues to the countryside or the coast. They can lead to real problems, particularly after such little rain in April and May. Many areas of land are still very dry and all it takes is a single spark from a barbecue or a dropped cigarette to cause a serious fire.”

He urged visitors to think of others, wildlife and the emergency services.

Dave Winspear, of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “Every year we attend wildfires, many of which are started accidentally by people having barbecues on grass or through campfires that spread.”