THE “charm offensive” planned by the North York Moors National Park Authority, in the hope of attracting more tourists, could be better directed to the service of active users of the park, both current and potential.
The visitors’ centre at Sutton Bank, for example, is designed almost exclusively to meet the needs of motorists, who might wish to break a journey to make use of a cafe, toilets and gift shop.
There is no provision for the hundreds of walkers and cyclists who converge on the area each day and who - especially in bad weather - would welcome some refuge where they can take a break.
I have often seen mud-spattered active users of the park cramming their bad weather clothes into corners of the entrance lobby, so that they can enter the cafe, or perch on a sloping ledge in the lobby to eat their sandwiches under some bureaucrat’s prissy “no food to be consumed” notice.
The little-visited exhibition space could be cleared out, or at least severely restricted, to provide room for the people who actually use the park’s facilities.
It is also ridiculous that when crowds of walkers and cyclists assemble at the centre at 8.30 or 9am, even on summer weekends, the National Park cannot spare either an employee or one of its admirable volunteers to unlock the toilets, with the result that both ladies and gentlemen find themselves compelled to make informal use of the surroundings.
Finally, the abandonment of the summer daily Moorsbus service can be attributed, I suspect, almost wholly to the haphazard, apparently random nature of the timetabling, and the unimaginative promotion.
In 2009, it was possible, with a lot of study and cross-checking of timetables, to walk the complete Cleveland Way using the Moorsbus and some service buses either to reach or return to the start point of each leg. This was clearly a matter of good fortune rather than design, and since then timetable changes and cutbacks have made the exercise impossible.
Saving services such as the Moorsbus, making them popular and viable through targeted timetabling and themed promotion, would be of far more benefit to the National Park than the £175,000 exhibition and half-million pound “project” that are trumpeted in the latest PR handouts.
93 Prince of Wales Terrace