IRRESPONSIBLE visitors to a popular beauty spot have been slammed after leaving behind piles of rubbish ­— including a used disposal barbecue.

Litter was left strewn on the shore of Lower Rivington Reservoir by what is thought to be a large group of people enjoying a barbecue over the weekend ­—despite numerous warning not to use barbecues in the area because of the fire risk they pose.

A dog walker came across the “disgusting piles of rubbish”, around 100 yards to the left of Liverpool Castle, commonly known as Rivington Castle, on Monday.

He said: “This is highly irresponsible behaviour in my opinion - when the water levels start to rise again the rubbish will end up either floating in the water or sinking to the bottom.

“There was food waste among the rubbish, and as the reservoir supplies the drinking water system it would obviously present a health hazard.

“Whoever has left it there must have known that the reservoir forms part of United Utilities’ water supply.

“But not only that, it’s also a terrible eyesore in one of the most beautiful locations in the countryside surrounding Bolton.”

This month marks the third anniversary of the Winter Hill moorland fire, which was close to spreading to Rivington.

The dog walker has reported the litter to United Utilities, which owns the land.

Fire Station Manager Dave Swallow, also deputy wildfire lead with the National Fire Chiefs’ Council, said: “Wildfires can have a hugely negative impact on the environment, and the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere is also a contributing factor to climate change. This is why we continue to urge people to take care when visiting the countryside and never be tempted to light barbecues or campfires on the moors.

“We are approaching the third anniversary of the moorland fires, which remain fresh in the minds of everyone involved - from firefighters who worked incredibly hard to put them out, to residents forced from their homes. There is no better time to remind people the smallest action can have catastrophic consequence."

Disposable BBQs and fires are a real threat to moorlands.. Tinderbox-dry grass and the moorland environment, sudden winds and peaty soils mean fires start with a single spark and can be out of control in seconds.

Estates and Land Manager for United Utilities, Ross Evans, said: “We don’t allow fires or BBQs as they can quickly start a wildfire. As well as the damage they can cause to the environment, people don’t realise they’re putting themselves at risk as well. Come and enjoy the countryside but please follow these simple rules and leave it as you would want to find it.”