Hinterland - 21 June 2021

In this edition of Hinterland - the cost of staycations, the strange and troubled evolution of local food, health inequalities made worse by the pandemic and as we begin to open up some inspirational places to visit for a pint.

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‘Prices are ridiculous’: UK holiday costs more than Europe as demand grows

The summer is upon us and the mix of stories of over priced staycations and the pressure on rural dwellers caused by longer term city flight make up our themes this week. This story tells us:

Those visiting “bracing” Skegness this July will pay an average nightly rate of £120 – £35 a night more than in 2019 – which amounts to a 40% increase. Prices in Pembrokeshire, Wales, are up 27% this year.

Guardian research has found hotels that charged £120 a night in 2019 are now demanding £150-£175, with those in popular destinations having all but sold out for most of the school holidays.

Caravan parks, traditionally the budget end of the market, do have availability but will typically cost £1,800 for a seven-night family-of-four stay in August – even in unfashionable Lowestoft.

The car-hire specialist insurer iCarhireinsurance.com said this week that rental prices have more than doubled at several UK destinations this summer as consumers tried to avoid public transport – adding to the sense of gloom among those stuck at home, but without a booking.


‘I’m praying the market might crash’: Young people in the UK’s rural hotspots feel priced out

This story demonstrates just how difficult for young people to have a stake in key parts of rural Britain. It tells us:

“There were periods over the last year where there were no properties at all to rent in the town or even a few miles into the surrounding area.”

That observation must have come from people living in the places we know as property hotspots, right? Wrong.

One of the ongoing narratives we heard over the course of the pandemic was how remote working was leading people to give up city life in favour of bigger, cheaper and more rural living. For many people with desk-based jobs, there was no need to be within travelling distance of the office any more, so expensive flats in and around London and other major cities were traded in for houses in the countryside or by the sea.

Something we heard less about, though, was the impact on people living in those regions where property increased in popularity over lockdown. Lowri, a 29-year-old classroom assistant and freelance writer living in the Welsh county of Gwynedd, home to the Snowdonia National Park, says the influx of people coming to Wales over the pandemic was “overwhelming”.


British food and drink exports to EU fall by £2bn in first quarter of 2021

The first of two stories about the interesting nature of the food economy in rural Britain. This article tells us:

British food and drink exports to the EU fell by £2bn in the first three months of 2021, with sales of dairy products plummeting by 90%, according to an analysis of HMRC data.

Brexit checks, stockpiling and Covid have been blamed for much of the downturn, but the sector has said the figures show structural rather than teething problems with the UK’s departure from the EU.

“The loss of £2bn of exports to the EU is a disaster for our industry, and is a very clear indication of the scale of losses that UK manufacturers face in the longer-term due to new trade barriers with the EU,” said Dominic Goudie, the head of international trade at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

He called on the government to “stop prevaricating” over proposals to help exporters “shut out of trading with the EU”.


A bird costs less than a pint: welcome to Britain’s poultry capital

It seems slightly unnerving to me to think of so many chickens in one small section of counties on either side of the Welsh border. This story tells us:

The UK produced 1.7m tonnes of chicken meat in 2020, up 28% from a decade before. Meanwhile, the retail price of chicken is down almost a quarter since 2014 – meaning the average supermarket bird costs less than a pint of beer

Of the 1.1 billion broiler chickens slaughtered each year in Britain, about 25% are raised in Herefordshire and Shropshire, according to a PhD study by Cardiff University researcher Alison Caffyn.


UK health inequalities made worse by Covid crisis, study suggests

I am not surprised by this story. The concentration on the elderly as a key component of those most disadvantaged should maintain our focus on rural England as a series of places disproportionately challenged by the impact of the pandemic. It tells us:

The coronavirus crisis has disrupted routine healthcare disproportionately across society with women, older people and minority ethnic groups most likely to report cancelled or delayed appointments, prescriptions and procedures, researchers say.

Public health experts trawled through data from nearly 70,000 people enrolled in 12 major UK studies that surveyed the population before and during the epidemic. They found evidence for widespread inequalities, with disadvantaged groups often facing the greatest disruption to their medical care.

“Many of the people who report experiencing the greatest healthcare disruption often had poorer health prior to the pandemic,” said Vittal Katikireddi, a senior author on the study and a professor of public health at the University of Glasgow. “While experiencing healthcare disruption is common across all social groups, our study raises the possibility that the health of the most disadvantaged in society might actually be more impacted by the disruption to the health system.”


And Finally

10 of the best walkers’ inns in the UK

This article will leave you itching to get your walking boots on! Here is the top inn on the list – follow the hyperlink to view the others.

Wasdale Head Inn, Lake District

Famously one of the early focal points in the birth of mountaineering, the Wasdale Head was a base for the first English alpinists from the early 1800s.

Many luminaries of the climbing world have visited since, and its Ritson’s Bar and Residents’ Bar remain legendary climbers’ meeting points. It was here, too, that the Lake District Ski Club was founded in 1936, when a local climber, Molly FitzGibbon, marched into the bar and announced that she was starting one.

As a rare, and isolated, hotel in the Wasdale valley, it sits at the end of Wastwater, the Lake District’s deepest and arguably most dramatic lake: there are terrible scree slopes on one side; on the other an incongruous fringe of beaches popular with swimmers in summer; and above, the highest mountains.

From the tables outside, the view is dominated by the steep flanks of Kirk Fell and Great Gable. The crowds come to bag Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak, but those who hike in the opposite direction – beside the lovely Mosedale Beck and up to Black Sail Pass and the summit of Pillar – can leave most other walkers behind.


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.



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