Is the countryside paying the price of increasing staycations?

Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports on the increasing amount of rubbish littering beauty spots

  • Words by Producer Hannah Kings

With international travel still uncertain, many holidaymakers have opted to stay in the UK this summer.

Lots have noticed an increase in fees for ‘staycations’, but is the countryside also paying a price?

Jean Birkett - who has lived in the Lake District’s Langdale Valley all her life - says they’ve had more visitors there this year than ever before.

She and some other residents are annoyed by tourists who leave litter behind, light fires where they shouldn’t and park cars that block local roads.

“They’re not used to going to the countryside and they don’t respect it,” Jean says. Some campaigners here are now calling for the introduction of an ‘eco charge’ for visitors as numbers rise. This would be a fee paid by non-residents, with the money raised going towards local services such as public transport.

Holidaymakers Paul and Jackie Gale - who have chosen the Lake District this year over their usual holiday in Portugal - said they would be happy to pay towards the upkeep of the countryside as long as the cost were reasonable.

Paul told ITV News if the fact that more people are visiting means it is being damaged, he’d be happy to pay a reasonable amount towards its upkeep.

The National Trust - which owns 20% of the Lake District national park- has urged people to remember the countryside code - a set of guidelines advising people on how to leave the landscape as they found it.

Nick Haigh, a ranger for the National Trust, is pleased more people are enjoying the outdoors, but says his teams are having to work harder this year to clean up after a minority of visitors who aren’t taking care.

Nick frequently finds incidents of ‘fly camping’ - where people camp in illegal spots and leave equipment behind.

Nick Haigh

Alan Manby volunteers with Fix the Fells - an organisation working to repair footpaths and ground being worn away by walkers.

He showed ITV News an area at Wanfell - a popular hiking spot near Ambleside - where work has already been done to restore eroded ground.

But after this year’s influx of visitors and the foot traffic it's brought, repair work will now need to start again. He says the main problem comes when people stray away from paths.

It’s not just the Lake District that’s being affected by increasing visitor numbers - there have been problems across the UK.

In Devon and Cornwall, there are concerns about ‘over tourism’.

Cornish authorities want people to enjoy themselves but to do so safely. Credit: ITV News

The village below Snowdonia in Wales hired security guards following anti-social behaviour, whilst in Northern Ireland’s Helen Bay, councillors reported noise nuisance and harassment.

Some residents of Scotland’s North Coast 500 scenic route say the area is “under siege”. After a difficult 18 months, many UK destinations are welcoming back tourists - and the money they bring - with open arms.

Some people are concerned though that as well as economic benefits, more tourists may be bringing more problems.