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Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Will you visit the countryside this Easter?
According to a survey published by NFU Countryside, almost two thirds of people who were planning a trip to rural areas have cancelled due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak.
Some 66% of the 500 individuals questioned by the organisation which is affiliated to the National Farmers' Union, indicated that they had originally planned to take a countryside break over Easter. However, most ended up cancelling.
This is despite government efforts to convince potential visitors that the countryside is open for business over the holiday weekend.
Have recent events put you off visiting the countryside? Or do you feel that it's important to show support for struggling rural businesses such as shops, pubs and hotels?
This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Blair must be off his head if he thinks the countryside is open for business once more. If seeing smouldering heaps of dead animal carcasses along with closed footpaths and idiotic riflemen shooting wildly at defenceless sheep is your bag then please set up your tent and enjoy the view!
I visited Oban on the West coast of Scotland and thoroughly enjoyed it. I warmly recommend it as an all-weather destination with ease of access to Mull, Iona and Staffa. The people are friendly as well!
Went to Snowdonia last week via the A5 and was annoyed to find roadside lay-bys and viewpoints closed off with tape. The countryside is not open for business. You can only drive through it from one town or village to another. My May holiday plans for the Highlands of Scotland and Skye are under constant review.
Peter Bond, England
All paths to the countryside are closed in Buckinghamshire whether there are farm animals along them or not.
Over the past few weeks we have seen images of dead animals piled high to burn and others left to rot. Small lambs left to drown in mud filled fields because MAFF say they cannot be moved to an adjacent field full of fresh grass. Last night we saw a so called slaughterman armed with a rifle, taking pot shots at a flock of terrified sheep and lambs running desperately around a small field. I ask myself; "what is going on, why is this happening". A government minister explains; "We cannot vaccinate because we would lose our disease free status". But why do we need this 'disease free status', to this I have not heard an answer. It is my belief that we require this so that the cruel export of live animals can continue. Also if factory farms produce more dead animals than our flesh eating society needs, we can export it and make more money.
I have just listened to Mary Lynch on News 24 , asking us to try the countryside and see it's ok to visit. I did just that yesterday and it's fine if you don't mind the smell of dead animals, roads closed to move the same and wagons full of decaying carcasses.
I've just watched the sight on New Zealand prime time news of a British "marksman" chasing Welsh sheep around a paddock and making a hash of trying to end the lives of a couple of dozen sheep. If it wasn't so serious I would have likened it to a sketch from Monty Python.
If you need to kill, do it quickly, those sheep would have been stressed to hell. Return to the UK countryside? Not with this joker and his wayward rifle running around.
Dave Jones, Flintshire, Wales
I have just watched the early morning BBC news on Saturday and I am appalled by the shooting of sheep with shotguns from long range by official foot and mouth culler in Monmouthshire. He shot at the sheep with lambs at their side and missed and the sheep are terrified.
If the townies still believe that the country folk are barbarous for hunting foxes what on earth is going on now. This is despicable and cruel and proves this government is not in control and hasn't got a clue as to how to deal with this. Animal activists wake up to this and make a noise - please.
Many organisations are pressing to have rural areas opened for public access. They are justifying this by urging landowners to carry out Risk Assessment. I would be very surprised if any assessment carried out into the possibility of spreading foot and mouth concluded that the likelihood of spreading the disease was less than that estimated for catching nvCJD. The risk of spreading is real, whatever peoples hardships. Farmers have been living with dwindling incomes for 10 years, not 6 weeks - is it worth the risk?
Geoff Evans, Wales
Every weekend last year from April to September I went camping, not to visit the towns and villages but to get out into the countryside and walk or cycle. This year, it looks like the city is where I'll be spending my summer. The government state that the countryside is open but they do not seem to know what they are talking about, the majority of people that go to the country go for walking etc. not visiting the local tea rooms. Mr Blair needs to get his facts straight before broadcasting them to the nation.
Frankly, at current rates, the British countryside will go the way of British manufacturing industry. If the Government had not over-reacted in the first place, nor would visitors.
I recently visited a tourist attraction here in Norfolk after John Prescott had made a visit to promote the open countryside, but after paying to enter I then found over half the grounds were closed because of a nearby farm! Yet another great British rip off!
I was planning to take my family to the area around Abergavenny until I saw the footage of the so called "marksman" chasing cull sheep round a field in Gilwern a few miles from there on the news tonight. The final straw was the un-named Monmouth Council representative defending this barbarism. Between them they must have lost Wales a mountain of tourist business including mine.
I sympathise with the plight of our farming community and have continued my personal policy of only buying British farm products where possible. However my wife and I see no point in visiting the countryside when local councils have closed all the footpaths even if they are nowhere near a farm. The problem is they closed them all and cannot be bothered with the administration required to review which paths are actually a problem. This is not only a council problem but also can be attributed to the Crown Estates and private estates. I am still waiting for my West Berkshire County Council to return to sanity.
Why are so many of your contributors using this awful disease just to knock the Government. There is I believe a very balanced approach to the problems being taken by the Government. Go to the country, obey the signs and keep away from livestock seems simple and sound advice to me. Better than sitting at home moaning and groaning. How about some helpful suggestions instead of Blair knocking all the time. Save it for the local Conservative Club if it hasn't closed down due to lack of supporters.
While Tony Blair is insisting that the countryside is open for business, he has got to realise that there are people who enjoy walking, who do not want to be walking on country roads (some of which are very narrow) among traffic. The majority of visitors to the Lake District and the Dales and Peak District and so forth, are walkers. I have cancelled my holidays to the Dales very reluctantly but we like to walk and we take our dog with us. Surely he realises that not everyone wants to be on shopping sprees when they go on holiday. He should be concentrating on helping those people who are losing out in these areas where many people cater for that kind of visitor, not going on about the countryside being open for business because it isn't.
Anna Saxby, Hertfordshire, England
After years of disasters within the British meat industry, there's not much protein left on the menu. Fish sales must be rocketing!
Don't bother going to the countryside at all. It's time we admitted that farming in this country, apart from organic farming and mass-scale farming has no future. Many farmers rely on subsidies to survive - it's time we removed those subsidies and let the free market decide the future of farming. Asking the nation to bail them out once again by paying for a sub-standard holiday simply isn't on.
There are places open to the public over Easter, i.e. beaches, some country parks and a number of historic houses, not to mention pubs, sports centres and swimming pools.
What in God's name gave the Monmouthshire Council the right to carry out what basically amounts to a sporting 'shoot' on the sheep in that field ... I am so appalled and angry I can hardly think straight while attempting to write this. It was simply barbaric. I just cannot believe what we saw, and please don't try and explain it away. There was no excuse for this behaviour - absolutely none!
Edward Christie, Austria (UK)
Why go to England for a holiday, when you can stand naked under Niagara Falls
and have the same thing going for you?
I will not be going out into the countryside this Easter even though it is a long standing tradition in our family to go for a picnic on Easter Monday, whatever the weather. Most of my relatives live rurally in Northumberland and in my opinion it would be irresponsible for us to visit them.
I simply do not understand how the Government can encourage movement of people into the country whilst this crisis continues. I was terribly distressed by a report on Radio 4 when a farmer told how he had been waiting three weeks for his sheep to be taken for slaughter, and how in the meantime they had started to lamb. As a result of publicity he had been 'put to the front of the queue' and his ewes are to be slaughtered tomorrow, some heavily pregnant, others with newborn lambs at foot. I wept with pain for these poor creatures. It is dreadful to think of lambs suffocating in their mother's womb which is what will happen when the ewes are slaughtered. I know we raise sheep for meat but no animal deserves to be treated in this way. If only we could do something to stop this barbarity.
Edwyn, N. Wales, UK
We have just returned from a week in the Lakes and although we did find enough to do it proved to be quite an expensive week as we visited a number of open attractions, all costing money for a family of four. We normally entertain our active boys by walking to a certain place or fell, having a sandwich (homemade) bribing the boys with an ice cream to carry on and then catching the bus back to our start point. This was not possible this time and road walking while possible did not hold the same attractions, also the dog suffered with sore feet. The country side is not open while footpaths remain closed, and yes you can visit but be warned it is costly.
It seems that many in the urban areas of the U.K. have a genuine disdain for those living in rural areas. When I visited your country, I found those living in the countryside to be courteous and welcoming to tourists. If I had the money for airfare, I'd be up in the countryside in a minute, walking trails or no. Good Luck!
Garry S has hit the nail on the head. I live in Japan, which is notoriously expensive, yet I can easily find a hotel for anywhere between £10 to £30 a night without a reservation. A clean hotel, that is, with good food and clean sheets. Imagine the shock I had when I went to the outskirts of Birmingham recently and could only find one manky b&b charging £60 a night. The breakfast was rancid too. Get real. I feel ashamed when Japanese colleagues return from Britain with their horror stories of British hospitality and catering.
Paul W, US
Tony Blair has appeared on Canadian
TV telling us that Britain is "open for
business". My husband and I are
leaving for Britain in two weeks and
we have been unable to buy a Great
British Heritage Pass as they are not
being sold at present because of the
foot and mouth epidemic. As 80% of
the approximately 600 sites are now
open, could someone please tell me
why the passes have been withdrawn.
I feel cheated!
My cousin in Cumbria tells me that life there is almost unbearable at the moment. Everywhere you go there is nothing but the stench of the pyres. It doesn't sound like much fun to me. Although I will be keeping an eye out for discount flights to the UK.
The only thing that is likely to spoil my Easter Holiday, is the sight of so many Cabinet Ministers on television trying to jolly us along. Get them out of our hair!
Of course I will be visiting the countryside this Easter. I can't go fox hunting in Highgate!
Well, the people who suggest buying British products must be mad. Overpriced and bad quality. Maybe this crisis shows them that they can't do whatever they want.
Sorry, but it is not foot and mouth that is the problem with tourism in this country. It is the cost of everything. Hotels charging upwards of £40 a night per person, restaurants charging £30 for a 2 course meal, petrol the highest in Europe, expensive and dirty and irregular trains. I can have a nice 2 week holiday in sunny Spain for the price of a long weekend in London. Get real Britain. Loss of tourism has nothing to do with foot and mouth, we are just overpriced and under quality.
Yes, the country is open for business, but not pleasure! Save your money, discover the delights of your local roads and pubs.
We're taking this opportunity to visit Hadrian's Wall as the main attractions
are all open. Let's face facts - how many of us are really going to WALK all that much,
especially with a 3-year-old and a baby?
8 degrees in Devon or 22 in Barcelona?
£49 air return or £110 on unreliable and increasingly expensive trains?
The wettest winter since 1766 or sunshine?
Value for money considering the exchange rate?
I have heard of businesses complaining about their lack of customers but I have yet to hear one of them say they are trying to increase demand by lowering price.
We have been following your news and praying for your country. However- how can your prime minister say it is safe to come and visit your country when it is now being said that people have transmitted the disease to other parts of the country? Does he not think that we could bring the disease back to the States? I visited your country last spring and I loved it, I will be back someday soon when the risk of transmitting the disease is no longer there.
I could not help but observe the disinfectant mats in and around the New Forest, which would be a popular tourist, walking area. Two points: 1. Many were bone dry. 2. The more important point, they were not big enough for lorries or tractors, whose tyres can be quite large. A simple mathematical calculation can confirm this. The mats were about 8 or 9 feet long - fine for the average car tyres but not lorries.
So if this is the situation nation-wide, no wonder there is still some spread.
As we live very close to Whipsnade Wildlife Park, local rumour has it that if the park doesn't open shortly, it will have to close permanently, with the loss of a unique collection of animals.
We'll be out and about in the Welsh borders this weekend. I don't expect it to be too cluttered with MPs though!
I live Mid-Wales, disease free at the moment. I want it to stay that way. I'm glad that footpaths are closed and people are being discouraged from visiting the countryside. With less people crossing from infected areas into clean ones there is a chance that this epidemic will be over sooner rather than later. Then the countryside as a WHOLE will welcome tourists and visitors back. All that is being asked is that people exercise a little patience and compassion for those in the farming communities.
I have no choice as I live in a small ex-market town in Herefordshire, already a pocket of deprivation. The effect has been devastating with nearly half the high street shops now closed. Everyone living here has been effected. Our only tourist attraction was the Downs and the Common, now we can't even walk on it. A lot of it has been scare-mongering as many of the animals which have been killed have been healthy but the compensation packages offered have been too good for the struggling farmers to say no too. I don't know how this town will ever recover from this.
We in the UK, and probably throughout Europe, will have to rethink agriculture. The losses through the drop in tourism are far greater than the losses to the farmers. Agriculture is a minor industry compared to tourism and this fact is only now being appreciated. The slaughter policy for animals is so that we can export them in future. But if by slaughtering animals we can no longer import tourists then the logical conclusion maybe to abandon the livestock industry. The animal rights groups have always said that it is cruel to transport live animals over big distances and that we should only be exporting dead/processed meat.
If an oil tanker spilled its load all over the beaches of, say, Benidorm, and all the beaches were closed for the summer how impressed would you be if the Spanish government urged you to go anyway to support the local businesses?
I have two short holidays planned in summer - Derbyshire and Isle of Wight. I have no intention of cancelling and if I can't walk as widely as I would wish I'll find something else to do. People who want to support farmers should make sure that they buy food that is sourced in the UK - find out where your nearest farmers market is and go and support them!
We're going to London for the weekend! Ministers keep telling us that "attractions" are open in the countryside; unfortunately we just wanted to walk, and as many of the comments already posted here demonstrate, pathways are not open in many areas.
My partner has a caravan just outside the outbreak in SW Scotland. We have been asked not to visit until further notice. This seems like sensible advice, as most people will travel through an infected area to get there. However, we would normally have spent 4 or 5 weekends there by now and the whole of the Easter holiday. Everyone on the site has refrained from visiting since the site opened on 1 March and we still have no indication of when we will be allowed back. The loss of revenue to the local community must be quite large. Local rates and rents still need to be paid though.
Is it not madness to go into the countryside when farmers cannot even move dying lambs in fields for the risk of spreading the disease? Are we trying to mitigate a 100% cull?
Why not? I'm not a four-legged farm animal and I can't ever remember eating pigswill, so presumably I should be immune to food-and-mouth disease.
I reject those comments saying that I should take my holiday in the countryside at this time purely to boost the local economy and tourism. The countryside is effectively closed and so what is there to entice anyone. Simply asking people to spend hundreds of pounds for a holiday spent in tea rooms and walking tarmac roads is a bit patronising to those people like myself who have spent 50 plus walking holidays in the countryside in the last decade and spent thousands of pounds boosting tourism. Thank you, but I will stay away from the country until this infringement of my right to roam footpaths, which go nowhere near farms, is relaxed.
We've got no fuel to go anywhere, no foreign currency to go anywhere, BUT we do have experts on F&M who are coming to assist you, so take heart!
I live in the country but find myself staying at home not only because of the obvious risks associated with foot-and-mouth disease but also because of the far more unpleasant risk of running into Blair or one of his cronies on "Open For Business" spin exercise.
It is plain to everyone that Blair's agenda isn't to promote the countryside but to try and pretend everything is fine so that he can cut and run in June - nearly a year earlier than he needs to call an election. His cynical and distasteful approach will be punished at the ballot box.
I've just spent the last weekend in the Lake District and cycled around the Hawkshead area. The Lakes are as beautiful as ever with daffodils coming into bloom - and the hotels need us!
I've just checked with my local council. Some footpaths will be open, including those along the riverbank. But I have been told I must keep my dogs on a short lead. There are no farm animals along the river. How can I possibly keep 3 dogs on leads in an area where they normally run in and out of the river? I'd be dragged into the river in no time flat. I shall NOT be going into the countryside this weekend.
I'm off to the Brecon Beacons on Sunday 15th. I feel very sorry for the people affected, but surely by staying away I would be helping to compound the financial misery felt by the farm we are going to stay on? We will be very careful, the proprietors will be very careful and all will be well. These people diversified into holiday cottages because the farm was not paying; now they are losing that side of the business too. What next Mr. Blair? Please tell me as you seem to know all the answers.
Kevin Hanney, England
We're off surfing in Devon. There's been nasty stuff in the sea for ages, but hopefully not diseased sheep.
Andy Harrison, UK
Its not so much the foot-and-mouth that's stopping me, it's the soaking wet, cold, miserable, unpredictable and lousy weather
I don't know where Andrew Cover of the UK has been for him to label the British countryside as overpriced, twee and poor-quality. My experience does not match this at all, and the truly charming villages, fishing coves, farm shops and restaurants I have visited will be the ones to suffer during the current mass panic. We are holidaying in the West Country in June, and refuse to cancel and contribute to the unnecessary hardship experienced by the warm and welcoming people there. So what if some paths and tracks are closed? They will still be there next time, and meanwhile we can still enjoy a relaxing week away from work and London traffic.
Phil W, UK
Why anybody would want to come to this country is beyond me. I have visitors from the USA staying with me at the moment and all they have heard from the media since they arrived is how dirty and unhealthy this country is. First it was F&M, then TB and dirty hospitals. It's going to take all my strength to stop them from heading straight back to Heathrow. When the UK gets its act together I think we should encourage visitors back, but not until then. Lets face it; the weather isn't a great help either.
Cornwall for Easter it will be for me. I will enjoy myself on the coast and avoid farmland. No problem. Can't wait.
Thomas Heinz, UK, Ex-Germany
Recent outbreaks in previously unaffected areas have been attributed to infection being spread by people and cars. Surely it must seem unfair to farmers to advertise Britain as 'open for business' until the disease is brought under control.
1) Number of F&M cases in Hants and Dorset - nil. 2) Number of footpaths open in Hants and Dorset - nil. 3) Number of Prime Ministers saying that the countryside is open for tourist business - One. 4) Number of Prime Ministers that can't cope with a crisis - one. And don't we know it.
No, because it'll be raining as always! But we hope to take our usual two farm holidays this summer. Bevis, if you're reading this, I hope Foel Farm is OK.
Yes, I will be visiting the countryside when I am next in the UK, in June. I will call up in advance and find out what is open and then plan accordingly. Of course not everything will be open although hopefully the disease will be under control by then. I want to support the tourist industry and the livelihood of people out there as much as possible and I would urge others to consider doing the same.
Jonathan Perree, Russia
The hill-walkers and mountain-climbers who are cancelling their visits en masse will only have themselves to blame if, on return to normality, there's no pubs, shops, restaurants, guest houses, etc to make their hiking trip more pleasant. Now's the time to put selfish concerns aside and concentrate on supporting our rural trade during this difficult time.
Come on, get real. I agree with supporting the struggling businesses but it's not much of a holiday if all you can do is stick to roads. Get a grip on the crisis Tony - it's about time you actually led rather than spinning all the time.
We cancelled our summer holiday to Yorkshire on the news of F&M,
and countryside hotels being closed.
Normally it's mountain walking in Scotland for Easter, but this year we're off to Tenerife.
It has a 3700m-high volcano in the middle which should be fun to climb.
Rural businesses have my sympathy, but asking me to go to the Lakes, Snowdonia or Scotland and either just sit in a pub or walk along
the roads is quite ridiculous. My limited holiday time is my most valuable
Linda Jones, Buxton, England
I stopped visiting the UK countryside after getting fed up with the overpriced, poor quality, twee cream tea culture of it all. Maybe this crisis will force those countryside businesses that remain in business to up the quality and service offered and keep the prices out of the rip-off range.
I'll be running a country-show in Oxfordshire over the Easter
weekend. Whether anyone will come is still a subject of much debate. We don't expect this one to be a big profit-maker.
While I am not planning a trip to the UK during Easter, I have planned one to England in July, and I will not cancel. While I recognise that some areas may still be off limits even in July, your country offers such an unlimited variety of culture and entertainment that one could not possibly visit every site on one vacation. I am confident that those areas which are open to the public in July will fully occupy our three weeks in your fine country.
All the major parks and paths are still closed in Surrey and Hampshire. I'm off to France.
I have been planning my Cornish garden tour since January, and although I believe the UK has some challenges to deal with, I have every intention of taking my flight, and fully enjoying the gardens of Cornwall. Being able to access BBC News Online, it would appear there are adequate measures in place to contain the disease. UK residents should get out there and support their local tourist related business, wherever possible. See you soon!
Govt position 1:
People should visit the countryside.
Govt position 2:
The latest outbreaks not near previous outbreaks have been caused by transmission on people or vehicles.
Confused messages:- I think so.
Please consider coming to the Scottish Highlands for your Spring break. We have been officially designated as a Provisionally Free Area, and many of the most popular walking and climbing areas have been re-opened to public access. Magnificent scenery, good food, friendly people, and very reasonable priced accommodation is available. What are you waiting for? For more information, take a look at www.walking wild.com and www.host.co.uk
Blair and Hague, or should it be "Blur and Vague!" Everybody knows the countryside is closed no matter what else may be said. I live in Somerset and I can confirm it is closed, no two ways about it. The Goverment is merely trying to fool the public into thinking things are better than they really are, its an attempt to soften the blow for the tourism industry who, like the farmers have suffered badly at the Governments mishandling of this crisis. Too little, too late and still they don't get it right.
The Government keeps telling me that the countryside is open but the South-West Way Association tells me that all 630 miles of the SW Way are closed! Who is telling the truth? Am I just being "panicked" into cancelling my holiday?
I live in one of the most beautiful and unspoiled parts of Cumbria, but today I would have been happy to be anywhere else. Today we had a "pre-emptive cull" of sheep on the land near our house. Which means that healthy sheep and their lambs were slaughtered and piled in a stinking heap in a pen near my neighbour's house. The farmer, whose healthy cows were slaughtered yesterday, said he had no tears left. My neighbour was inconsolable. And the Army Liaison Officer" who had bitten his lips until they bled, said that he would do his best to remove the carcasses tomorrow. Is this what Tony and his pals mean when they say everything is under control?
I will not be going into the countryside this Easter, because the Government have changed there minds about being able to and not being able to.
Firstly, they gave the message that you should not go out into the countryside. Now, they are saying that you should go out into the countryside and its perfectly safe, but with more foot-and-mouth cases occurring I know that I will be definitely staying at home this Easter!
I'm going abroad. Poor Mr Blair is trying his best to convince us that it's safe to go to the countryside, but it really isn't. It's a pity that the farmers have brought down the very important tourist industry along with their own already ailing one.
I live in the countryside and I'm finding it extremely difficult to find anything to do at the weekend. If the countryside's open you could have fooled me. All the footpaths are closed so there's nowhere to walk, unless you fancy traipsing along country lanes. If people want to go out for the day they might as well go shopping in town and save themselves the price of the petrol.
Christine, Scotland, Scotland
It is now time to stop the killing; vaccinate
all livestock and open the countryside
properly. I certainly will not be going
anywhere until I can walk unhindered
and without the risk of coming across
a field full of rotting carcasses. As
for my hard earned money I will
spend it in my local pubs.
Unfortunately I was meant to be returning home for my daughter's christening at our old Parish Church; but our in-laws live on a farm just outside the new cases in Hownam. Their neighbours have lost all their animals, and so to protect their bulls we've had to cancel.
If the outbreak had been restricted to Dumfries and Galloway then we would still have gone; unfortunately this is a bit too close to home.
The godparents are having tremendous difficulty trying to cancel their plane tickets though.
I live in rural Somerset, and our neighbouring market town, like many others in the area which regularly attracts visitors from far afield, is still alive and thriving. If you are a "cream tea in a pleasant location" person, there really is no reason why would should not visit the area.
If, like myself, you prefer to take your countryside as nature intended it, by walking through its unspoilt hills and valleys, you will be greatly disappointed. With only a single case reported in Somerset, and that was stamped out in the very early days of the crisis, all footpaths remain closed. Isn't it time that local businesses started to put pressure on the councils to open up at least some of the popular routes? With the appropriate controls, of course.
Instead of cancelling, why don't people ring up first to check what is open and what is inaccessible in the area they plan to visit? We promised to take our son to the zoo, but thought it would be closed due to foot-and-mouth, but when we rang up we found out it actually reopened last week.
We are keen walkers and have two dogs. We would ordinarily be organising trips to the countryside at weekends/ Easter, but for us, there's no point if the footpaths are closed.
Helen Jenkins, Wales, UK
Myself and around 20 climbers were planning our annual trip to climb in Cornwall. This trip has happened every year at Easter and is a big boost to the campsite that we visit. Unfortunately this year we have had to cancel this trip due to foot-and-mouth. The paths to most of the cliffs are closed and there is very little climbing available. Unfortunately we cannot practice our sport easily now and all of our planned trips have had to be cancelled. Sorry tourist industry, we'd love to come but until we are allowed to climb we're going to have to stay at home.
Not in the slightest! Our booking on a non-working farm in Cornwall is fine, so long as we don't tramp over the fields. Access to both north and south coasts is unrestricted, the Eden project and most kiddie-friendly attractions are up and running. No problem!
I endured a holiday in Wales the week before last and have to say the countryside is most definitely not open for business!! It's fine if you're happy to drive around admiring the scenery through a car windscreen, but you can't go walking anywhere and all the tourist attractions, e.g. castles, gardens, abbeys, mines etc, are closed due to foot and mouth. There was nothing to do except wander round the shops (which you can do at home) and I honestly wish we had cancelled the holiday. The whole sorry episode was frustrating, disappointing and stressful, not to mention a waste of money. Don't go!!!
John B, UK
I live in Cornwall and can see first hand the effects of the foot-and-mouth situation. I will be doing what I can to support local tourism this Easter by visiting local attractions. We will, of course, be following any local precautions currently in place. I would encourage everybody to do the same over Easter and beyond, in the hope that this will help keep rural business afloat.
Yes! We will be camping at the Thetford Forest. We just phoned and they said it's open to the public.
Put it this way - I saw Tony Blair on the news, covered head to toe in protective, bright yellow clothing, wearing a safety helmet, imploring the British public to return to the countryside because it was safe. Did he really think that it was going to convince us that all is well?
It still seems that central and local government are still divided on opinion. Central government tells us it's okay to go into the countryside. Many local councils on the other hand still maintain that it is not so and that footpaths etc. should remain shut. One would have thought that being so far into the crisis would have brought better co-ordination of policy.
When the main reason that you go to the countryside is to go walking, then what point is there in going at the minute? With the majority of footpaths closed and a risk of transferring the disease to farms and animals back home then surely it is better to wait until the outbreak is over and then return to the countryside.
I work in Bradford and the local paper this weekend was full of Mr Blair visiting Haworth - the Bronte Village - in order to promote the countryside as being open. The headline on the same local paper today states that the foot-and-mouth crisis is deepening. Who do we believe?
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