There are fears Easter will be 'exceptionally challenging' after more than 40 cars turned up at a Dorset beauty spot the weekend before - despite lockdown rules.

While much of the county has been deserted as residents stay at home, some people are still ignoring the rules to travel to the Lulworth Estate.

Coastal warden Dean Eddy spoke to and/or moved on more than 40 motorists at the weekend, most of whom, he claimed, came from London, but also Oxford, Brighton, Taunton and locally Dorchester, Poole and Bournemouth.

Police were also called to the estate on Sunday, when a number of people were turned away.

With a warm and sunny Easter weekend approaching, a plea has been made, once again, to stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Dean said: "We are expecting a very challenging time. Some people seem to think that because it's out of the way they can exercise here - this is not the case.

"People need to know they will be turned away and all the car parks at the cove and Durdle Door are firmly closed. There are regular police patrols, and they can issue fines, and [rangers have] constant security presence - it's not worth the wasted journey or putting other people's lives at risk."

Rangers are asking anyone they see in the area where they have travelled from and are issuing them with advice.

They also have leaflets which explain the restrictions on travel, and if they don't see vehicle owners they will ensure they have a copy left on their windscreen.

"Most are compliant but some situations are less so," said Dean. "Once they leave one area, say Lulworth Cove, they usually try to park at Durdle Door or vice versa.

"Luckily, the police have been very good. They are very helpful and deal with anyone when they are around. Local people are also quite vigilant but I think the Easter weekend will be exceptionally challenging."

A Dorset Police spokesman said officers carried out patrols last weekend and have continued to do so over the past few days.

This has been both on foot and in vehicles across the Purbeck area, and officers have stopped some vehicles and offered advice to motorists where appropriate.

The spokesman said: "These efforts will continue as long as they are required to assist with compliance with the Government’s social distancing guidelines.

"We are pleased to see that the vast majority of Purbeck residents have been complying with the guidelines and hope to see that continue in the coming days."

'Now is not the time for venturing out'

Chief Constable James Vaughan, of Dorset Police, said: “I fully appreciate the impact the Government restrictions are having on us all. However, we must not lose sight of why they are in place – to reduce the spread of the disease, protect the NHS and save lives."

Dorset Council leader, Cllr Spencer Flower, said now is not the time for venturing out.

“We know how fortunate we are to live in a beautiful part of the country but our enjoyment of that, for now, will have to wait," he said.

"Our beaches, parks, beauty spots and countryside will all still be there for us to enjoy when this crisis is over.

"There will be more summers, more bank holidays, and more sunny days in the future, but now is not the time for venturing out, driving to the places we know and love.”