Alastair Sawday: Despite extreme weather, there's plenty to see out west
Saturday 22 February 2014
Pondering the floods, rains, and high winds that have battered Britain, especially the South-west, for so long, I wondered at the double-double whammy that must be the impact on those who live by being hosts. They can lose both their homes and their businesses in one fell swoop; and potential visitors misread the news and stay away. Yes, houses have been flooded on the Somerset Levels, but the nation thinks the whole county is awash.
At Sawday's we have done an informal survey of our South West B&Bs and other "special places", and there are two main responses. First: "Yes, it has been grim, whether from floodwaters or from bad weather"; and second: "But we are still here – so tell people to come".
Bad weather alone can keep people away. Here, is Peter Evans in Wales: "There have been only rare visitors, for the paths are too dangerous, rivers and streams too swollen for kayaks and canoes, and winds too strong for hang- gliding. The wind has even blown rain through the two-foot thick wall. There is limited cooking over the range, no emails or telephones. And the chickens hate it. But it is still gorgeous."
Phoebe Judah, from the Somerset Levels, told us: "People feel that the whole landscape down here is a no-go area; but my property is completely approachable and the views of the glimmering water – and all the wildlife it brings – are beautiful."
According to a recent business survey, Somerset trade is down by a quarter overall, but people are resilient, with many of the locals determined to stick it out. I write this from Cornwall, where we have just had a glorious, and sunny, cliff-top walk next to a sea washed by light. Our drive here, through Devon, was beautiful too. One Devon owner wrote to say that "people staying with us at Mazzard Farm this week are having a great time".
Yet Cornwall has suffered from a news-induced panic too. Ian Rose told us: "We are unaffected; the daffs and wild garlic are appearing, and the Roseland Peninsula is as beautiful as ever. However, mass panic has killed bookings."
Lastly, a flooded Somerset B&B owner, Sara Jocelyn, offered us her take on the recent deluge: "I stood in the kitchen with the current flowing over my insteps and into the dining room; the water came through the walls too. Today the neighbours are taking down half a wall built in 1642. 'Look what we've found' they said, 'an angel!' It is a thin metal plaque of an angel with long wings, poised in clouds, carrying a martyr's palm. Who put it in the old lath-and-plaster wall of Row Farm House in Laverton?"
I hope everyone has enough of that sort of spirit to take themselves to the places such as Laverton and see our glorious – if, in place, waterlogged – landscapes for themselves.
Alastair Sawday is founder of Sawday's, the guide to special places to stay in the UK and Europe. See sawdays.co.uk
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Wikipedia edits from inside Parliament removing scandals from MPs' pages, investigation finds
- 4 Johnny Depp facing 10 years in jail for illegally bringing dogs to Australia
- 5 Iran launches anti-Isis cartoon competition 'to expose true nature of Islamic State'
Hitching a ride to South Korea: what it's like being the only female passenger on board a cargo ship heading to Asia
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
Secrets of the Azores
Travel in London expected to grind to halt in taxi driver slowdown against Uber
The most powerful passports in the world
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
£32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...
£27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...
£24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...
Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...