Tourism is the fifth largest business in the UK and, given that we can be fairly sure that visitors don’t come for our weather or our beaches, it’s clear that heritage and landscape are the major factors in enticing foreigners to our shores. It is, to say the least, a shame that successive governments have failed to make the link between farming, landscape and tourism, and their effect on historic houses and heritage. They bring enormous riches to our land despite, for instance, all the red tape in farming and the ludicrous VAT on renovation and restoration of houses (newbuilds are exempt from VAT).
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But, leaving aside the tourists, things may be about to get worse in the countryside for the likes of you and me. Local-government cuts threaten the upkeep of footpaths and bridleways.
These paths, stretching to more than a million miles across the country, are one of the nation’s jewels and almost unparalleled compared to other countries. As a result, walking, not football, is our real national sport, but with these cuts, the paths themselves may disappear in a tangle of brambles.