Friday, 14 February 2014

Donate and Display - The thin end of the wedge?

On the face of it this Donate and Display seems like a good way of raising income, however I sincerely hope I am wrong about this, but it must have been very costly to install a payment machine and with that in mind I suspect this is simply going to be the thin edge of the wedge and we will see drivers paying for access to the hills if they wish to park at Bowlees in the not too distant future.  No doubt the official line will be we have no plans at present to operate Pay and Display here and elsewhere in Teesdale.  Yea right.

Donate and Display at Bowlees in Teesdale
I have always been of the opinion that charging for car parking in areas where people access the countryside harms local businesses.  From a personal perspective I know it certainly does.  Whenever I visit the Lake District for example, if I have to pay excessive parking fees to go for a walk then I simply don't spend any money in the local shops, cafe's etc.  It is not about being stingy or anything like that, it is simply the fact that after being taxed the better part of a tenner in say the Thirlmere or Ullswater valleys, coupled with the cost of running a vehicle there is sod all left over.  In fact I don't think I have spent much in any of the shops or pubs in Glenridding since the parking charges were introduced years ago.  Prior to that it was always a pint in the pub, a meal, or whatever with my mates.
One argument often used is that if you arrive by public transport you won't have to pay.  For day walks I find this is a flawed argument and in some rural areas you will be lucky to find public transport running more than a couple of times a week never mind per day and if you are heading out climbing in winter try getting a bus before first light to give you the early start needed to leave a safety margin of daylight at the end of the day.
Nor do I subscribe to the un-elected bodies and career conservationists' views that high parking charges are required to protect the area.  I am well aware of the arguments about government cuts, path and landscape restoration, visitor centres with cafes that need subsidising as well as other arguments, but with rich corporations, (some of which do immense damage to the environment) escaping paying billions of pounds worth of taxes, we really do need to get our priorities sorted here.
Free access to the countryside should be a fundamental right regardless of personal income, or the manner in which you arrive at a given location. 
Anyway rant aside on a more positive note here's a pic of Holwick scars from yesterday as yet another heavy snow shower makes it way in.  Can't decide if I like the flat low contrast look, but then again the light was flat so that's how it was.

Holwick Scars Teesdale

Holwick village from just below the scars
Text/images copyright David Forster/


  1. I couldn’t agree more about the car park charges and especially in the Ullswater Glenridding area. My friends who live locally to there have stopped going because of the charges, so i do agree that these costs affect local business. When anyone suggests to us visiting that area the first question now is where are we parking because we are not paying those rates. Having said this, those high costs have been around for a few years now and if it was so detrimental surely business would have challenged it.

    1. Hi Alan. Do a search on the web "parking charges affecting businesses". In small rural towns in particular there are a lot of complaints and that includes my own. In popular places such as the Lakes all I can say is if I am not spending and others I know are not spending because they are having to pay extortionate car parking charges then it must affect businesses, especially out of season. Just because businesses manage to survive does not mean they are not affected. I appreciate I am conflating town and rural parking here, but when it comes to day walks in particular if I have to pay high parking fees to walk then I simply don't drive to say Keswick and pay a further three or four quid parking fee so I can have a meal somewhere. That is not to say I never visit Keswick or other similar places, but it does affect how often and how much I spend there.

  2. Last time I went to Thirlmere, the car parks were more or less empty and the verges were full. I'm unsure as to who is getting and funds raised at Bowlees and I personally don't volunteer any of my limited cash supplies for parking there. Lake District parking charges are certainly one of the factors that affects how often I go there and if I can go to free spots, I will.

    1. Hi Mike. Two weeks ago two friends of mine parked at the Thirlmere parking area below Helvellyn that has toilets as every free place was full. They paid the fee and then found the toilets were closed. Dohh.

  3. I nominated a blogger recently – and I can't remember who – to start an anti-parking charge campaign and everybody would get behind him, because we all feel the same way. It's nothing to do with the upkeep of the countryside. It's to do with raking in money from people who go walking because it's inexpensive, fun and healthy.
    Like some of the commentators above, I have cut back my visits to the Lakes purely because of this issue. Lakeland is being turned into an expensive, exclusive theme park. I sincerely hope Teesdale doesn't go the same way.
    Your fraternal comrade, Alen

    1. We already have problems around Barney as a result of parking restrictions and car park charges that are affecting businesses at the moment. In fact the Teesdale Mercury carried an article yesterday on the damage done to businesses in the town, but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears as far as the council goes.

      An anti charging campaign sounds a good idea. While I am happy to spend my money in local businesses, I will not pay high charges to park as well. Throughout the summer I have taken several people to the Bowlees visitor centre for something to eat when I have done photo walks, or tuition. If charging becomes compulsory then I simply wont spend any money there either.

      Anyway glad to see I am not alone in my views. Cheers David