TOURISM: Publicity is not helpful

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More publicity, more congestion, more dogs.

There appears to be some muddled thinking from those who welcome more publicity for the Dunstanburgh beaches.

Has anyone really stopped to think just why the beaches remain so unspoiled and iconic?

It is precisely because there is, and always has been, very limited car parking and no direct road to the castle. If you want to enjoy the beaches you have to walk.

So far this has limited the numbers and preserved a beautiful, yet fragile eco-sytem. Limiting numbers is the management strategy currently in place for these beautiful places.

This upsurge in publicity and the great appetite for more visitors is particularly sad for me.

I grew up at Dunstan Steads and my family owned the land bordering the beaches from Newton to Craster. My father was frequently criticised because he refused to turn any of our land into public car parks. This became particularly unpleasant in the 1960s when he refused to allow the National Trust to build a road from Craster to the castle.

No doubt we could have made thousands of pounds from car parks, but my father believed very strongly that the dunes and beaches needed to be protected from too much wear and tear. In one way, their current popularity is part of his legacy to Northumberland.

I now live in Craster, a village already inundated with more visitors than it can cope with.

We are constantly picking up discarded black doggy bags and other litter.

We often have to remind visitors from the cities to put their dogs on the lead. The duneland paths are worn out and muddy.

We now brace ourselves for even more congestion this summer.

To add insult to injury, we find the National Trust and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty constantly promoting more visitors.

More day-visitors simply bring more congestion, litter and wear and tear. The pubs and restaurants are already at capacity.

The fact that the Tourist Information Centre in Seahouses has been allowed to close speaks for itself as far as the interest of our distant county council is concerned.

Dunstanburgh beaches most definitely do not need more publicity. What we need is for the National Trust, the AONB and the county council to take more responsibility to protect this vulnerable coastline and the people who live here.

We cannot even cope properly with the visitors we have already.

William Sutherland,