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Monday, 23 April, 2001, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Did foot-and-mouth spoil your Easter?

Seaside resorts and theme parks have benefited from an increase in visitors over the Easter break, as tourists avoided countryside areas affected by foot-and-mouth.

Coastal towns reported an increase in visitors on last year at the expense of traditional Easter favourites such as the Lake District, Dartmoor and the Cotswolds.

The Easter weekend was seen as a crucial test for the tourism industry which has been hit hard by foot-and-mouth.

Did the foot-and-mouth effect your plans over Easter? Was the countryside open for business? What did you get up to?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

This has not only ruined my Easter but also my daily life

Jake Addams, UK
I am a keen mountain-biker and have, up till now, enjoyed a healthy off-road hobby. Since this crisis started all the major areas where I cycled have been closed down and I have been forced to use the roads instead. This has not only ruined my Easter but also my daily life. I am appalled that the government haven't used the vaccination before now and put an end to this crisis.
Jake Addams, UK

I was concerned that our boating holiday would be cancelled or that we would face severe restrictions due to the foot and mouth crisis, but we were very pleasantly surprised. Our trip up to Llangollen did not suffer at all, and we were all most vigilant regarding disinfecting our shoes when stepping on and off the boat. All the narrowboats adhered to certain procedures regarding disinfecting, and all seemed prepared to take responsibility for ensuring that we did nothing to spread this terrible disease. We sailed past field after field of sheep with their lambs and thankfully saw nothing of the horrors other people seem to have witnessed.
Julie, Suffolk, UK

Foot and Mouth made my holiday the peaceful and restful one I wanted

Thomas Edwards, England
We have just come back from a holiday in Cornwall and Devon. I have been all over the place. Every where, not once did I see a foot and mouth case, not a single dead animal any were! We did see some disinfectant but that doesn't count. If anything it was good. There was lots of parking spaces and every cafe was empty and you could just go in there and instantly get what you wanted! Foot and Mouth made my holiday the peaceful and restful one I wanted.
Thomas Edwards, England, UK

Yes the foot-and-mouth outbreak did spoil the Easter breaks. There is no way I would have visited the countryside and I don't blame visitors from overseas not wanting to come to the UK to see the sites of burning cattle, sheep, pigs and gun shots from our animals being slaughtered, even our healthy animals not a heart breaking sight that anyone wants to see! The Government should get this sorted. The countryside has been closed for a lot of people this Easter!
Lynsey Robson, UK

I decided after reading the other comments that I needed to voice an opinion. To Dave from the UK, who enjoys motor biking. Did he ever wonder why the roads were quiet? He has successfully just ridden through probably the most infected areas of the country. There has been 278 cases in Mid Wales, 862 cases in Cumbria and Dumfries & Galloway. So I hope you enjoyed your holiday, because I had a nice "holiday" burning my livestock. You are just undermining all the people out there trying to control this terrible disease.
Jayne, Wales

Sure did! My children were packed off to my parents to give me a break - I've been ill for 7 weeks now - doc says the virus is not improving due to stress. Guess what! We are pig farmers, trying to sell up, with no income and a loss recorded on our accounts over the past three years. We are in receipt of family credit. I'm working full time and my husband works an average 70-hour week - all to lose money!! So yes, FMD did affect my Easter. Let's hope for a better future when my family manages to leave the farming industry behind!!
J STEDMAN, England

Of course it spoiled my Easter - all the footpaths are closed and going anywhere in the country is hardly enjoyable unless I can get away from roads and cars. Why are all footpaths closed? I understand the need in infected areas, but why a blanket ban? I suspect ancient farmers' and MAFF's (run to serve big farmers) prejudice against walkers. The farmer on BBC News a few days ago who said, "It'll be worse if there's right to roam", let the cat out of the bag. My holiday last year was ruined by farmers and their friends stopping petrol supplies (couldn't get there to start walking!) If this year's is ruined by footpath bans (the area is not infected), that will be the last straw.

I have full sympathy with the farming community. My local area has been affected badly, and not only were my two Easter breaks cancelled - one being a walking holiday the other a trip to see Scotland v Ireland - but I did not get any work at my place of employment for the last three years. The surrounding farms all lost sheep due to foot-and-mouth, and as a result the caravan site at which I worked was empty. It was the most heart breaking experience to travel there from my home and not see any lambs; to arrive there to see the smoke rising from empty fields and find the site itself empty. With all events cancelled, and quite rightly so, I cannot even plan working there in the summer. Despite being a great lover of the outdoors, any restrictions on movement, be it of livestock or people, should be supported rigorously, as this already affects far too many people.
H. Stace, England

If the farming industry throw anything else at me, all my goodwill will evaporate

Roger W., U.K.
Yes, it did effect my Easter and quite frankly if the farming industry throw anything else at me all my goodwill will evaporate. Farmers, sort it out. This has been going on for 20 years. Stop whinging and start getting your act together. Yes, I do have sympathy with foot-and-mouth, but to ask for my support after holding the country to ransom over so called fuel taxes that you do not pay (ie red diesel), you are stretching my patience.
Roger W., U.K.

Yes, FMD did ruin my Easter. I am a keen fisherman and would have fished on the River Usk but was unable to do so. I did not at that time feel any animosity to the farming community; on the contrary, I felt and still feel great sympathy towards those affected, and those who fear the disease. Further I have had little feeling for the whining army of bed and breakfast providers, although some have undoubtedly suffered. However the NFU's refusal to agree to a policy of vaccination is beginning to change my views. I believe that farmers who desire it should be able to have animals vaccinated at no cost to themselves on request, particularly dairy herds which are going to be particularly vulnerable in the next few weeks as they are turned out to grass.
Robin Simms, Wales

I was impressed by the solid support for the farming community in the pubs in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. We met at the family home in Herefordshire and as usual had Easter Sunday lunch at a country pub on the Bromyard Downs. A superb atmosphere of solidarity amid a clearly improving situation. Great to see that when the chips are down you can indeed rely on the British public to rise to the occasion.
George Hartwell, Belgium

I was completely unprepared for the scenes that I saw

Jane, Northampton, England
Following government advice that the countryside was still open and so not to cancel bookings, I went on my annual holiday to Powys, Wales. Not coming from a county greatly affected by foot and mouth disease, despite seeing the news on the TV, I was completely unprepared for the scenes that I saw when I arrived. Piles of dead cows lying in their shed. Burning animals along the sides of the roads that we had to travel along every time we wanted to go out - the stench of burning flesh as the smoke filled the car. Men dressed in white standing outside farm after farm, making you wonder if the lambs you'd just been watching play with each other on bails of hay would still be there by the time you left. Army trucks swarming the countryside as if we're back in the war again. Indeed the mood of the people affected at the moment would say we are. No walking and constant disinfecting. I ended up going back to Shrewsbury in England to go to the cinema! Hmmm... countryside open? Not if you find the scenes described above just a little depressing! Yeah, great Easter...
Jane, Northampton, England

Yes, FMD spoiled our Easter, just knowing that the horrendous slaughter of so many animals was taking place. We live in an area which is so far free from the disease, so have decided not to risk taking holidays in the UK this year so as to avoid any chance of inadvertently bringing it here. We can see sheep and cattle from our house, and there's a pig farm not far away. We aren't farmers, but we still don't want it here.
Ruth, England

Yes it did. The countryside may be open for business but it is closed to walkers, riders, mountain bikers and climbers. The small businesses need to realise that they only augment the enjoyment of the countryside, not provide the main attraction. There appears to be little to do apart from vaccinate and watch the farmers whine about their 1% whilst a business four times bigger is destroyed. Remember the closure of the pits and the mills in the Midland? I do, and whole families went to the breadline with little support and no public money. We couldn't afford to go to the countryside then and it appears to be the same position now!
John, UK

It appears most people in U.K. are more concerned about taking a walk in the country than they are about your international reputation in the livestock industry. Hope U.K. agriculture wakes up and realises that the whole world is watching, and we are not impressed with your efforts to date eradicate this virus.
Patrick Wilson, Canada

They have lost their livelihoods - you've just missed out on your Easter break

Dave, UK
I think that all the people moaning about having a disrupted Easter, ought to take a step back and actually think why there was disruption and why footpaths were closed. I have had quite close dealings with FMD since it started and personally feel that the government made the wrong decision in opening any footpaths. It's the townies that cause the problem. There is a footpath near me, and when FMD broke out, there were more people walking down the footpath to have a look at what was going on. So can you not miss out on a few hobbies and spare any more farmers and their animals the trauma of having to deal with FMD on their farm. JUST THINK!!!!! They have lost their livelihoods - you've just missed out on your Easter break. There's no comparison really, is there?
Dave, UK

As long as there is a ban on the use of footpaths and forestry roads then not only my Easter but my release from the daily stresses of work are being sorely affected. Whilst the Government try to insist that the countryside is open for me it is definitely not and will probably remain closed for some months to come. What I and many others like me enjoy is just being out in the country not visiting some "attraction" or other.
Trevor Hyde, UK

Easter? We couldn't even face chocolate! Our farm on which we have spent over 15 years of hard work, love and faith building up was confirmed with foot-and-mouth 4 weeks ago. The fields are empty, it is just so sad. My Dad knew the faces of every sheep and had to watch them killed heavily pregnant. Easter Sunday consisted of waiting in while a neighbour's dairy cattle herd was shot just down the road. For all the farmers, countryside lovers, businesses and lives affected my deepest sympathies go out to you.
Meg, Wales.

We could normally fill the place several times over

Pauline Robertshaw, England
Was our Easter spoilt? My answer is an emphatic "yes". Our normally busy B&B did have some guests but nothing like in previous years - we could normally fill the place several times over. We are situated in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and almost all our guests want to walk with the grass under their feet, not tarmac. Whilst I fully sympathise with the farmers I will never forgive this Government for the blunders they have made with the foot-and-mouth outbreak. Businesses here have closed and the remainder are teetering on the brink. The countryside is definitely not open, merely shops and attractions.
Pauline Robertshaw, England

Only "spoiled" people must have had a "spoiled Easters". Come on people, this was a mere long weekend with plenty of other options open. Has foot-and-mouth just become another good reason to whine? Think of what the poor farmers are going through not to mention the animals and then talk about "spoiled". I was back in England in March when we were about three weeks into the disease. My main reasons for visiting are primarily my family and secondly to hike the fells of the Lakes, but I couldn't. I didn't whine, didn't feel my trip was spoiled. Instead we found other things to do and respected the countryside and the livelihood of the farmers by doing so. May it all be over soon and you can find something else to whine about
Aly Weir, Brit in the U.S.

I have had to cancel Easter, MAFF have been slaughtering and burning healthy animals at Brooks. It's usually a time for a family get together with our children coming home, to spend time together and enjoying the beauty of this delightful hamlet. This year MAFF are slaughtering and burning these healthy animals (it's the contiguous cull within 48 hours they recommend) but this has taken them 16 days and more. The sad fact is, they have not discovered foot-and-mouth after this lapse of time, so they are really killing healthy stock. Are they creating a problem where there isn't one? The smoke and the fumes have been horrendous, and with all windows and doors secure the stench is with you every minute of day and night.

The composer of 'All In An April Evening' (the sheep with their little lambs...) found his inspiration for these beautiful lyrics, in a place such as Brooks, but this year it is shrouded in smoke, sadness and silent.
Maureen Williams, Wales

Not massively no. Spent the Easter weekend in the Borders at the Rugby Sevens in Melrose. This went ahead after careful planning from the organisers and everyone had a great time. We took extra care to use all the disinfectant etc provided for shoes and on the wheels of our car. The paths etc were closed but there are other things to do in the countryside! They need our support, just so long as we are careful.
S.H., UK

Owning two large dogs and a horse, I have found Easter (other than the chocolate eggs) to be very restricted. I have to walk my dogs on leads round the local park and my horse hasn't been off the farm where we are based since the beginning of the foot-and-mouth restrictions. I for one would not like to be a small rural business or a farmer at this time, I know how frustrated by it all I feel.
Ros Silvester, Essex, England

The UK is certainly open and ideal for motorcyclists at the moment

Dave, UK
We changed our plans for Easter, having intended to spend the Easter break motorcycling in France. We chose instead to bike around the UK and had a fantastic weekend visiting Mid & North Wales, The Peak district, Yorkshire and Cumbria. The roads were in the main very quiet and we were able to stay for single nights in B&B's that usually turn away bikers and people not booked for whole weekends. Even the weather was kind to us and it only rained for an hour or so. The UK is certainly open and ideal for motorcyclists at the moment.
Dave, UK

My holiday to the north coast of Cornwall was greatly enhanced. There were few people there spoiling the beautiful views of the golden sands due to the lack of access to stretches of the coast. Let's continue to give the countryside a rest.
Andrew Bennett, England

Yes indeed, this has had a major impact on our holiday. We (My wife, 4 children and myself) came up to Northumberland for a family break. We asked the agent for the cottage three times prior to our visit if there was any reason we should not come or if there were any likely problems. We were told that we were very welcome and that we should come. Now we are here, after a mere 2 days, The Area we are in is under MAFF/Army control and our holiday is curtailed due to a 5000 fine if we leave the holiday cottage as it is in a recently designated F&M area. We will not be going anywhere for the next 3 days.

We went urban and met up in Birmingham

Stuart Nicolson, UK
Yes and no. For the past few years I've gone to the Lakes with a group of friends for the Easter break to enjoy the hills and fells. As there is no access to the mountains we went urban and met up in Birmingham. It was a shame not to get the fresh air and tranquillity of the Lakes (we usually walk on remote hills away from the throngs) but good to see old friends again.
Stuart Nicolson, UK

We decided to travel down from the Midlands to visit Cornwall and the Eden Project. The roads were quiet and it was very easy to find accommodation in Falmouth as we hadn't booked anything. The only thing we saw to remind us of foot-and-mouth were a few token attempts by farmers to put disinfectant soaked straw onto some roads.
Mel, England

An acquaintance and I went clay pigeon shooting on Sunday morning. On arrival at the shooting ground we found that a large portion of the land had been voluntarily taken 'out of bounds', to minimise the risk to nearby livestock from wandering shooters. Both the livestock owner and the shooting ground owner took sensible precautions, producing a reasonable compromise that allowed most of those who wished to shoot to be able to do so.
Keith Willis, England

We live in Kent, and went caravanning in Cambridgeshire. Apart from being cold, it was a fairly good Easter break. We did however notice a lack of animals in the fields of Essex and Cambridgeshire, and my children saw signs on footpaths declaring a 5,000.00 fine for anyone using them.
Tim Price, UK

I had a great Easter break. We went with my parents to Hampton Court Palace which was open as usual. The only downside was that we had to finish all the chocolate eggs before my parents returned to Germany as we thought that no food could be taken back. However, when my parents checked-in at City Airport it was pointed out that chocolates and biscuits could be brought back. Too late!
Daniela Bruggemeier, UK

We were systematically fleeced for sub-standard and over-priced visitor attractions

Gary, London, UK
Having returned from a four-day break in Dorset I can honestly say the F&M restrictions did not stop us from doing anything we wanted. However, I did feel we were systematically fleeced for sub-standard and over-priced visitor attractions. Outrageous car parking prices (for which fees often only apply during holiday periods) were a particular annoyance; a clear example of local councils cashing in when in many cases no facilities are provided. It's no wonder so many people go abroad at very little, if any, extra cost.
Gary, London, UK

What really ruined the Easter break was the confounded weather, not the disease. Even if all these twee footpaths were open and lambs were frolicking in the fields, the wind, rain and cold would still have ruined it. F&M comes as a good excuse.
Daniel, UK

It did change my plans - but not spoil them. As one who lives in the countryside (an unaffected area at present) and with many farming friends across the country and into Wales it would not have entered my head to visit other areas of the countryside for fear of spreading this awful virus and jeopardising the livelihoods of some of my closest friends. I stayed at home and thoroughly enjoyed myself!
Sally-Anne, England

I own a guesthouse in the Herefordshire countryside. We have a total of 5 rooms and 2 holiday houses available for rent. In the last 5 years of running the business we have always been fully booked. This year we only had one room occupied with the other rooms all cancelled.
Ian Lloyd, UK

I had to stay in and eat Easter eggs

Paul Atkins, UK
My local country park was closed, local woods closed, local water mill was closed. I had to stay in and eat Easter eggs.
Paul Atkins, UK

What needs to be understood is that the phrase "open for business" means just that. Pubs, restaurants, shops and other attractions with an entrance fee were, in the main, open, but our normal simple weekend pleasure of taking the children for a walk in the countryside has been off limits for months. All those bluebells, and no-one to enjoy them...
Malcolm Triggs, England

Yes it did spoil our Easter; our family has a dairy and sheep farm in Cumbria, and we heard on Easter Sunday that all the livestock may have to be slaughtered due to F&M being confirmed a couple of miles away. People may whine about restrictions remaining in place over the holiday, but farmers' livelihoods are still being destroyed by the disease.
Mike S, UK

I have a small hotel and bar in rural Wales. The path to Cadair Idris starts opposite the hotel and has been closed since February. We rely 98% on walkers to the area as passing trade is negligible. On Easter Sunday two road walkers came in for coffee and two locals for a glass of coke. How dare the Government and Welsh Tourist Board put the onus on small businesses to attract custom when the fault lies squarely with them, whichever way you look at it? The takings for the entire weekend would not pay for the PM to have his car washed!
Kim Lathaen, Wales

I never thought I'd be so glad to see city lights again

Heather, UK
Yes, emotionally. I have never seen such tragedy in the countryside. My husband and I were travelling from the South coast late at night, and it was awful to see the fields ablaze. Although it didn't affect our time away, I felt an incredible sorrow and still do. I never thought I'd be so glad to see city lights again.
Heather, UK

Instead of our usual Easter Monday Bank Holiday walk in the Surrey countryside, our "Young Adults" Group from Knaphill Baptist Church went for a bracing walk along the beach and paddle in the sea at Hengistbury Head. A wonderful time was had by all except Khloe who, at 18 months of age, decided she didn't like sand!
Ruth Moore, UK

It didn't affect me at all. I spent a wonderful Easter weekend in the States with my girlfriend. I was back in the country by 7am Monday morning. I was asked by US border staff if I'd been anywhere near the English countryside; other than that, the foot- -and-mouth crisis didn't have any impact on my Easter.
Steve, Bristol, UK

I had a great Easter in the Republic of Ireland

Matt Daniels, England
I had a great Easter in the Republic of Ireland. Although I was caught out by the amount of traffic heading north on Thursday afternoon (I left London at 1:30pm and didn't reach Holyhead until 10pm) we had a fabulous time driving through the Dublin mountains. The cars were hosed down at the port on entry and you couldn't go walking through the countryside but the drive through the deserted roads and the views were spectacular.
Matt Daniels, England

I had a great Easter - went to Alton Towers and went wild on the rides! Pity to see all the farms closed and the plumes of smoke on the horizon from cattle burning.
Gary Holcombe, UK

Tony Blair recently said that the countryside was open. He even went as far as to get Sean Connery to promote Scotland as being open over in the US. What a joke. I went to visit my parents in Dumfries and Galloway over Easter in the hope of doing some fishing. The whole of the countryside is SHUT. None of the paths are open. The only movement in the fields is the army building funeral pyres for the animals. It is a complete disaster for the area and it is time the Government recognised this.
James Laraway, UK

It seems that the Government doesn't really care about people enjoying the countryside

Eddie Podsiadly, England
Despite Tony Blair's assurances that the countryside was "open for business", we travelled from Brighton around East Sussex as far as the Friston forest, and found most footpaths closed. The Friston forest was supposed to be open, but one of the two car parks was given over to a "private party", so it was very difficult to park nearby. It seems that the Government doesn't really care about people enjoying the countryside. Their only concern seemed to be to make it look as if commercial concerns were in business. To really improve things we need to open all unaffected areas, not only those with an obvious commercial connection!
Eddie Podsiadly, England

Nope, it didn't - I managed to remain in a pub for four days solid so I was very happy indeed.
Fraser, Essex, England

The dog can't have his usual 10 mile run on Salisbury Plain, so we cycled with him instead. We have a number of affected farms near us, so routes out of the village have to be changed. And when the car was cleaned I scrubbed the tyres with disinfectant. But it's hardly a showstopper. Foot-and-mouth for people without livestock means a little extra care, not an end to eating, drinking and making merry.

Foot-and-mouth did spoil my Easter - the countryside is not open and it is not possible to walk anywhere. I also have concerns about my holiday booked for June in the Yorkshire Dales where I am informed it is not possible to go anywhere unless it is a village or a pub. I feel sorry for the farmers but Blair and MAFF must get their act together and sort this all out.
Valerie Smith, England

In some instances they are not really helping themselves

Stephen Linger, England
I visited the Chiltern Open Air Museum near Amersham in Bucks. On arrival we were told that half the site was closed due to foot-and-mouth - however the museum still charged us a full entrance fee and did not even offer an incentive to return once the entire site is open. I appreciate the difficulties the tourism industry is under at present but in some instances they are not really helping themselves.
Stephen Linger, England

Not in the slightest. Farmers apart, anybody who claims to have been put out was obviously not trying very hard to enjoy themselves!
Andy Millward, UK

I live in North Devon, where there have been lots of visitors over the Easter weekend. There is a stench in the air from cattle pyres and in the distance for two days smoke has been drifting inland towards Exmoor from a pyre near the coast. The smell is unpleasant - rather like a badly started barbecue. There is a strong content of unburnt paraffin in the vapour ... and we are 4 miles away at least. If this is supposed to be safe one wonders how I can smell the paraffin yet the same wind is not carrying the virus?
Tony Koorlander, United Kingdom

Yes, it affected my plans in as much as, having decided to visit Llandudno on Saturday (we live in the countryside anyway, so a trip to the seaside seemed like a nice idea), we actually spent 5 hours in a traffic jam, before turning round and going home! I realise that this was undoubtedly due to people avoiding the country, but as the news had reported a very quiet weekend for all UK tourist attractions, we weren't prepared for this.

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