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Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?


Postby Border Reiver » Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:23 am

https://news.sky.com/story/lake-district-must-change-to-attract-more-diverse-visitors-11897034

I read this article yesterday and I'm not quite certain about how I feel. Whereas I think it's great that the countryside welcomes people of all types and abilities, I'm not so sure that it should be artificially altered to encourage groups who, for whatever reason, may not want to go there anyway. The Lake District, in this instance, is beautiful and overcrowded in many parts, but if certain sections of society do not go there, whether for cultural reasons or just because it's not attractive to them, then so be it. I often tell people I meet what a wonderful place the outdoors is. Some say "yes, it's great, we love it" and others say "no way, all that rain, mud and smelly animals". We all have our reasons for what we do, but I don't think changing any place artificially will make a great deal of difference.
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby Gael S » Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:56 pm

It seems like some want to turn the Lake District into more of a ‘Disney nature land’

The biggest fear is that they will inevitably disrupt the natural beauty of the place by making it more accessible. Tarmac paths will likely just be the first of many initiatives.

My view is that we already have enough manufactured outdoor spaces for people to enjoy.
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby Arthurs Eat » Tue Dec 31, 2019 12:46 am

I have to say that in general I agree that the people you are most likely to bump into on the hills are white and middle aged (just like me). I personally would like to see that change a bit.
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby Border Reiver » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:43 am

Arthurs Eat wrote:I have to say that in general I agree that the people you are most likely to bump into on the hills are white and middle aged (just like me). I personally would like to see that change a bit.

I agree, but is it necessary to change the countryside to achieve that. In 60 years of living and walking in the countryside I never met a coloured person out enjoying a walk until last year. They were a group of young Asians climbing Pen Y Ghent and they rushed to help when they saw my wife was having a panic attack on a steep section. What lovely kind people they were. On reflection, I think it could be a cultural thing, we spent our holidays and spare time out walking, as did many of that era. People of ethnic backgrounds maybe did something different in their spare time and are only now discovering the great outdoors. It's great to meet all folk that we share our world with, but would changing it make it less attractive to us? I think it would
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Tue Dec 31, 2019 10:55 am

Arthurs Eat wrote:I have to say that in general I agree that the people you are most likely to bump into on the hills are white and middle aged (just like me). I personally would like to see that change a bit.


:clap: :clap: :clap:

This is a fascinating topic. I couldn't agree more with Arthurs Eat's comments. I think there are two different questions.

- Why is there less diversity among people on the hills than there is in the UK population? and

- Is this something that can be changed?

The answer to the second question differs depending on perspective. A philosopher of free will would say it is all about individual choice of how to spend your leisure time. A sociologist would point to cultural behaviour patterns.

The answer that comes from the world of marketing, though, is - "Let's influence people's choices (and make some money too)."

This is the kind of answer that tends to dominate such debates. The marketing perspective becomes the only perspective.

The original question gets rephrased. It becomes - "How can we alter the image of the Lake District to make it more appealing to a greater diversity of people (so that they will come here and spend money)?"

The same argument will no doubt soon be applied to areas in Scotland, especially the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond national parks. For example, it may impact on the debate about amenity vs nature in the Cairngorms.

What was originally a question about the choices people make, as to whether to visit an area and enjoy its countryside, gets turned into a marketing project a la The Apprentice (there was an episode recently about "rebranding" Finland).

The countryside itself becomes a "product" to be manipulated so that it is "marketable".

Schemes to "improve amenity" are put forward on the basis that they are "improving diversity" and "inclusive". However, their real aim will always be to make money.

The schemes do end up making money - but whether they actually promote diversity and inclusion is debatable.

I think it would be wonderful if the community of people who enjoy the hills was as diverse as possible.

But I recall a stay at a Center Parc. I found it stifling.

- It was a highly artificial version of the countryside.

- It was exclusively populated with white middle class people.

Tim
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby jamiecopeland » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:15 am

In my opinion, this is utter nonsense.

Most people will have the option of staying in The Lake District overnight to hillwalk (which costs money) or get up very early to travel (which takes effort and money). Only then to put in the physical graft to walk up the fells. If folk aren’t into this sort of thing then that’s fine. Why do we need to “attract” them?!

The fells have coped for millions of years without this sort of rubbish and they’ll cope just fine in the future as they are.
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby Raynor » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:39 am

I'm not sure what this article is getting at? I thought at first it was going to be about attracting people from different economic classes into the countryside but it seems more a debate about land use and walkers angry that 4x4 and motorbikes are allowed? In that sense, I don't think walkers should have the countryside to themselves and all other activities banned. That would be like saying you can't walk along cycle paths because it is only for cyclists.

On the other hand I am very much against the creation of paths and signposts where they are not needed. There is absolutely no need for a tarmac path through a woodland. The highlands has already seen this happen almost by chance, as government subsidised hydro schemes have been abused by many shooting estates as an excuse to create tarmac paths all over the place with the pretense that they are service roads for the hydro dam. In reality they are solely used as a means to drive shooting guests up into the hills. But regardless, we now have very good tarmac paths that have in theory opened up access into previously wild areas. I'm fairly sure they haven't suddenly seen an upturn in visitors because of it, or made it more inclusive to anyone.
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby Sgurr » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:56 am

The average first generation newcomer to Scotland without professional skills is working double hard to establish a life here, maybe further down the line their grandkids will have the time. There is a Scottish Group called Boots and Beards who take to the hillshttps://bootsandbeards.co.uk/boots-beards-hillwalking
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby al78 » Tue Dec 31, 2019 12:26 pm

Raynor wrote:I'm not sure what this article is getting at? I thought at first it was going to be about attracting people from different economic classes into the countryside but it seems more a debate about land use and walkers angry that 4x4 and motorbikes are allowed? In that sense, I don't think walkers should have the countryside to themselves and all other activities banned. That would be like saying you can't walk along cycle paths because it is only for cyclists.


I don't think it has anything to do with walkers wanting the countryside to themselves, it looks more to me like there is a suggestion of a bias in the visitors towards older white people, with the implication that this means there is something wrong somewhere (i.e. are there barriers to other groups of people), and should we be encouraging younger people and other ethnic groups to visit.

It is not that surprising there would be a bias towards older people visiting the Lakes. Is there the same demographic bias in other national parks. Retired people aren't constrained by employment and family responsibilities to the extent younger people are, so they have more time for recreation, especially time consuming recreation like hill walking. They are possibly the wealthier age groups on average as well, even if there is high wealth variance, It is odd if ethnic minorities are underrepresented, as I cannot see any barrier to these people visiting the Lakes or any national park if they wanted too.
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby Raynor » Tue Dec 31, 2019 4:00 pm

al78 wrote:I don't think it has anything to do with walkers wanting the countryside to themselves, it looks more to me like there is a suggestion of a bias in the visitors towards older white people, with the implication that this means there is something wrong somewhere (i.e. are there barriers to other groups of people), and should we be encouraging younger people and other ethnic groups to visit.

It is not that surprising there would be a bias towards older people visiting the Lakes. Is there the same demographic bias in other national parks. Retired people aren't constrained by employment and family responsibilities to the extent younger people are, so they have more time for recreation, especially time consuming recreation like hill walking. They are possibly the wealthier age groups on average as well, even if there is high wealth variance, It is odd if ethnic minorities are underrepresented, as I cannot see any barrier to these people visiting the Lakes or any national park if they wanted too.


I can't comment on the lake district but certainly loch lomond national park has a very diverse user group, perhaps owing to it's proximity to urban areas. When I am walking in the hills I don't see a bias towards any particular demographic either. If anything, I encounter a lot more people around 18-30 age group. Also go up ben lomond or ben nevis for example. You will encounter people from all different backgrounds. I feel like where access and reasonably priced facilities and accommodation are offered, all sorts of people will turn up to enjoy the countryside.

What does make a place exclusive though is if the price of accommodation and parking is prohibitively expensive. I'm looking at you cobbler car park.... Many of the hotels up the far north of Scotland are clearly aimed solely for the wealthy tourist trade and are unaffordable to many people.
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby al78 » Tue Dec 31, 2019 5:30 pm

Raynor wrote:What does make a place exclusive though is if the price of accommodation and parking is prohibitively expensive. I'm looking at you cobbler car park.... Many of the hotels up the far north of Scotland are clearly aimed solely for the wealthy tourist trade and are unaffordable to many people.


Surely expense would prohibit poorer people from enjoying the countryside, not ethnic minorities, unless there is evidence that ethnic minorities have significantly less disposable income. That Cobbler car park (£9 is it?) is a bit OTT, I went for a walk in the Clwydian hills last week and parked at Loggerheads country park, I paid £5 for all day, and in the event I could have got away with paying £3 as I got back to my car before 15:30.

A lot of accommodation in the Scottish highlands is on the expensive side. If you don't want to be paying near £100/night B&B, you have to avoid the hotels and find a small B&B, a youth hostel or a bunkhouse, or camp. They can charge prices like that because the area is so popular, and there is always someone willing to pay in high season.
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby dav2930 » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:56 pm

Important issues here that should concern us all. The first point to make is that the countryside, and especially national parks, does/do not need to change in order to be more inclusive. Richard Leaf is completely misguided and inept in his view on this. Moreover, his language is inflammatory. The Lake District "must change", he says; "we need to be able to sell the national park to everybody in Britain." So the Lake District is a commodity to be sold; and in order to do this, it must change.

As chief executive of the LDNPA, Richard Leaf should know better than to make two claims that are at odds with the aims and purposes of National Parks, as laid out by law in the National Parks and access to countryside act of 1949.

Let's remind ourselves of what these aims and purposes are:

1. Conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.

2. Promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public.

Also to: seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the national parks.

Allowing the recreational use of 4x4 vehicles on green lanes in one of the most beautiful areas of the Lake District does not 'conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage'. Neither does it foster the economic and social well-being of the local community - it impedes access for farmers to their own farms.

Promoting opportunities to understand and enjoy the special qualities of the Lake District is primarily a matter of education, not of changing the place to make it conform to some imaginary cultural baseline. If you're going to change the Lake District so that it can be 'sold' to 'everybody in Britain', then you're clearly going to destroy the very 'special qualities' that visitors are supposed to be encouraged to understand and enjoy. Instead, you are merely pandering to a pre-conception of what people already understand and enjoy in ignorance of the qualities that make the Lake District special: you are trying to make the place all things to all people. In other words, Richard Leaf is putting the cart before the horse; he has his priorities the wrong way around.

Everyone in Britain is free to visit the Lake District and to enjoy it's special and wonderful character. The factors that limit this freedom are social, cultural and economic. Changing the place will not increase that freedom, but will diminish the powerful reasons that 18 million people already have for visiting it.

Richard Leaf seems to have such a poor understanding of all these issues that I really do not see how he can justify his position as chief executive of the LDNPA.
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby zero » Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:40 pm

Dav2930 I totally agree. Personally I've met all kinds of different people on the hills and from all kinds of ages too. There are many activities for young people for example (but not all young people like outdoorsy stuff). I think Richard Leafe's comments are more about trying to force the Lake District as an 'adventure capital' like Fort William for example but I fear with more of a 'any development goes' feel. I personally think the artificial argument he's (badly) making is simply another way of him trying to achieve this rather than anything else. The whole Thirlmere thing, the recent decisions of the LDNP and some huge conflicts of interest are enough to make anyone suspicious of the true motivations! I'd also like to see activities encouraged that bring some kind of understanding to the environment and long-term support to mountainous areas from 'users', rather than bombing in to activities that could be done anywhere and then shooting off without consideration to the environment or the area!
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:14 pm

I agree with the general assumption that this is being used as an excuse to increase the commercialisation of the national park. The Lake District is popular for several reasons and I wouldn't say any of them are deliberately none inclusive. I can only really speak about the people I come across on the hills, as I don't really do any of the other tourist stuff much, but I have come across people of different ethnic backgrounds and age groups. Yes, they are probably under represented but people's cultural backgrounds are part of who they are and often frame their interests and activities. So long as any group are not actively discouraged from visiting then I fail to see a problem.
In my opinion the Lake District needs to be sold to visitors for what it is, and not changed to be all things to all people. By all means build more all access routes for people of limited mobility, by all means promote the area to different cultures and ethnicities but don't destroy what makes the place what it is in the name of attracting people who don't even want to be there in the first place.
As for motorbikes and 4x4s I think they should be controlled more and limited in number, but not banned altogether. Banning things tends to encourage the worst of any group to not only ignore the ban but behave without any consideration while they do it.
Perhaps more effort should be put into helping the economically deprived areas of West Cumbria rather than the very busy and visitor rich National Park.
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Re: Should the Countryside be More Inclusive?

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:03 am

johnkaysleftleg wrote:I agree with the general assumption that this is being used as an excuse to increase the commercialisation of the national park. The Lake District is popular for several reasons and I wouldn't say any of them are deliberately none inclusive. I can only really speak about the people I come across on the hills, as I don't really do any of the other tourist stuff much, but I have come across people of different ethnic backgrounds and age groups. Yes, they are probably under represented but people's cultural backgrounds are part of who they are and often frame their interests and activities. So long as any group are not actively discouraged from visiting then I fail to see a problem.
In my opinion the Lake District needs to be sold to visitors for what it is, and not changed to be all things to all people. By all means build more all access routes for people of limited mobility, by all means promote the area to different cultures and ethnicities but don't destroy what makes the place what it is in the name of attracting people who don't even want to be there in the first place.
As for motorbikes and 4x4s I think they should be controlled more and limited in number, but not banned altogether. Banning things tends to encourage the worst of any group to not only ignore the ban but behave without any consideration while they do it.
Perhaps more effort should be put into helping the economically deprived areas of West Cumbria rather than the very busy and visitor rich National Park.


This expresses it perfectly. johnkaysleftleg, you should write this as a letter to Richard Leafe!

Incidentally, I mentioned this matter to my wife, whose work involves promoting inclusion and diversity, and to a colleague who is in the same field. Both thought that Richard Leafe's ideas will promote commercialism and not help diversity.

tim
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