Archive: Foot-and-Mouth Reports
The 2001 foot and mouth crisis in Great Britain was devastating not only to the British farming industry, but tourism as well. While the disease is not considered a threat to humans, humans can carry the virus on their shoes and car tires and transmit it to other animals. The British government undertook a massive slaughter of healthy animals in their efforts to stop foot and mouth before it spread further. While tourism was unaffected in cities and small towns, many rural sites and hiking paths were closed for months.
Foot and Mouth Disease Update
We just returned from Britain 9/8/02 and had done a lot of walking in Scotland and the English Lakes and Hadrian's Wall areas. Even though there have been no new cases of foot and mouth disease in Britain this year, Customs still disinfected our shoes.
Wichita, KS USA 09/13/02
hoof and mouth
We were in Ireland last April during the outbreak of hoof and mouth. It had little impact on us in the South of Ireland but the further north we went sights were closed,there were iron grates with disinfectant at the doors of every building. One lady walking her sheep down the road actually gave us dirty looks at swatted out rental car with her staff. At the invisivble line between northeren Ireland and Republic of Ireland we were pulled over in a road check but had no vegatation and did not go to any farms so they wished us a good day and we passed. Passing several cars that they were taking apart.Still this sad and dangerous outbreak did not ruin our trip.
powell, oh USA 07/29/02
Customs, "Boeuf" and Sheep/Cow Poo
On our return to Seattle yesterday (7/2/02) we were still affected by H&M/Mad Cow. We had our trekking poles in a specially-made carrier, and when we were asked by Customs about hiking, we honestly admitted that we had been through cow and sheep pastures. Off to customs inspection for us, and our hiking boots! On top of that, tins of French cat and dog food were noticed, and everything that contained beef, or animal by-products was summarily confiscated. But hey, the cats dined on "lapin" (rabbit) tonight and are happy, so it was worth it. Of note, our inspector mentioned that not even RS can bring a salami into the country without it being taken away. Too funny.
Kennewick, WA USA 07/03/02
Foot and Mouth
We spent 3 1/2 weeks in Scotland and England from August 30 until September 23rd. and foot and mouth impacted us very little. There was only one small site we were not able to see. There were precautions like wheel baths and shoe baths at a few locations but very few. The only thing the outbreak did do was make our travel a little easier.
Santa cruz, ca USA 02/04/02
Light at the end of the tunnel
Britain has now gone 3 months without a new foot and mouth case, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1732000/1732894.stm) so hopefully the bans will be lifted by spring. The British livestock industry, though, may never recover. I appreciated Jennifer from Dublin's comments (11/23) on the severity of the foot and mouth epidemic. It was this knowledge that led me to cancel my trip to Britain last spring (I had planned to do lots of hiking in the areas that were closed) — it wasn't my safety or the spoiled vacation, but I didn't want to be responsible for spreading this devastating disease.
Mary from Oregon
Foot & Mouth in Great Britain
We toured all of Great Britain by car for 41 days, (9/4-10/13) over 4000 miles. We saw very little evidence of F&M with the exception of some closed pathways and driving having to drive over treated mats in the Dartmoor Park area. Many of the residents are mad about reports that are out of proportion to the problem. We saw loads of sheep and cows wherever we went. Incidentally,the British people were very understanding and compassionate about the 9/11 tragedy. They went out of their way to speak with us and shared our sorrow. We stayed exclusively in B&Bs, and the people who run them are more than happy to steer you to the many beautiful sites in their country.
Jean & John Stridiron
Hauppauge, NY USA 12/29/01
Foot & Mouth in North Yorkshire, England
We spent the month of September in North Yorkshire, England. We found most of the trails closed to walking. However, we had no trouble finding back roads and lanes for our adventures. We found it especially nice to be able to talk with the locals "over the back fence" and heard many sad stories of the affects of F&M on the farmers and their families. We were invited in for tea, got tips on local points of interest and met many wonderful people. We enjoyed our trip very much and would do it again in a minute.
Grants Pass, OR USA 12/06/01
The foot and mouth after-effects
I have lived in Europe for the past five years, split between the Netherlands and Ireland and not before the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease last year did I fully understand the devistation that follows this disease. I feel compelled to write after reading the really naive comments left by fellow Rick Steves travellers. While a pain for travellers already spending thousands to visit Europe (many for the first and only time) only to arrive and see that attractions and, in some cases, the entire country-side was closed due to foot and mouth restrictions. I assure you it was for a good reason.
It upsets me that there wasn't more 'research' by travellers done prior to leaving the states about this disease. While the European community thrives on tourism, it was the tourists that didn't watch the nightly local news while in Europe to get the full scope of what foot and mouth was. Instead of viewing this crisis as severely as the local communities did, American tourists seem to view it as a wrecked vacation! What American tourists didn't see was the horrific aftermath of the disease. Foot and mouth is so contageous that when one farm was diagnosed as having it, any farm in a 25 mile radius was also considered contaminated. All those animals had to be killed.
Farmers and their families who had been farming for generations, crying over the loss of their animals and their income. I will never forget seeing a man in his 70's watching the vet teams run around his field dressed in haz-mat clothing and shooting all his newly born lambs. The man was in tears. I witnessed another family who's first calf of the year had just been born, only to be shot along side her mother as their farm was contaminated. It saddens me deeply to read such thoughtless remarks left by fellow Americans about the 'bothers' of the preventions the countries implemented in the wake of foot and mouth.
The mats all over Ireland helped immeasurably. The prevention methods
were so good, there wasn't one case in the Republic and only a handful
in the north. I wish American travellers would do more research into Europe
prior to arriving at their destination, it would do wonders to actually
know what all the 'fuss' is about, rather than just complaining about
it upon returing home.
Dublin, IRL 11/23/01
Stay Away from Black Prince Holidays
We know many British tourist businesses lost money during the foot and mouth crisis, but doubt Black Prince Holidays was one of them. We reserved a canal boat from them in February for a June holiday and put down a nearly $500 deposit. A month later reports were grim (canals and towpaths closed, dire predictions for the summer) and we had to make a decison at that point whether to cancel the holiday in order to have time to make alternate plans. We regretfully cancelled, still three months in advance. Fortunately for Great Britain, the crisis was not as prolonged as feared and, at the time of our original hire, many boats were running and many canals were open. However, even though Black Prince re-let our boat at full price, they refused to refund any of our deposit. We offered to pay a reasonable cancellation fee, but again they refused and kept nearly $500 of our money while providing no service. The only bright side is our family of five had a wonderful three week vacation through Europe following much of Rick Steves' advice - much better than we would have had on a canal boat (which, BTW, are very expensive!) It was a costly lesson for us - hope to help someone else avoid our mistake.
Aiken, SC, SC USA 11/09/01
Much ado about foot-and-mouth
Aside from the "disinfected" mats we saw in Ireland — do they ever put down a new one? — there was really no indication of a foot-and-mouth "scare." We even spent three days on a farm in Devon, walking through ankle-deep mud next to cow stalls; even though we noted this on our customs form, none of the agents in Seattle seemed to care very much. Apparently nail clippers and tweezers are the concern du jour for airport security. Foot-and-mouth is clearly yesterday's issue.
Portland, OR USA 11/05/01
Hoof and Mouth in Ireland
I tried to visit what was supposed to be an open site of a ruined abbey. It was Athassel Abbey outside of Cashel.When we arrived the gate to get to the site was locked with a note on it talking about that Hoof and Mouth Disease.Funny thing was that although the gate was locked it said the site was still open.This was on 10/23.Weird huh?
grand blanc, mi USA 11/03/01
Foot and Mouth Disease
There is a disease that occurs in young children called Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease. Caused by Coxsackievirus or an Enterovirus and NOT the same thing as the Foot and Mouth Disease in cloven hoofed animals. Reference states that it is "usually brief and benign". It occurs in the USA too.
hoof and mouth
First foot and mouth is a threat to young children. While in Germany my two year old contracted this virus. His mouth was full of open sores and between his toes. He did not get it from a cow he got it from another infant who got it from who knows where. It lasted for two weeks and the doctor said it is a highly contagious desease typically uncommon in humans. My son is human and did get this virus!
WI USA 10/08/01
Hoof and mouth not a travel issue
We just returned from the UK on September 25. We traveled for 3 1/2 weeks in Scotland and England and found very little impact from foot and mouth. We were required to disinfect our shoes at two sites and they also set up disinfection for car tires at these locations but that was all. We were able to see all of the sites we planned on seeing. Coming back to the states there was no question about where we had traveled and there was no disinfection needed.
ca USA 10/03/01
After biking and hiking in Ireland and Scotland for 25 days in July,
2001, I was concerned about bringing FMD back to the U.S. Expecting some
sort of decontamination process, I inquired upon arrival at Newark. U.S.
immigration advised me to contact FDA oficials "downstairs". I couldn't
find them so just ended up proceeding on into the U.S. These very loose
procedures seem very risky to our agricultural industry.
Denver, CO USA 09/03/01
As I write this message, I am in the process of washing all my clothes
in bleach. All my shoes and luggage have been sprayed down with the same.
We just returned from two weeks in London, Scotland, Northern Ireland and
the Republic of Ireland. Other than discussions with our B&B hosts, we never
had any indication there was a problem of FMD until this last week. By the
way, these folks are really feeling the effects and have asked us to pass
along a request not to panic and cancel your trips. They have really suffered
financially this year and most are not even in areas where there has been
a problem. At any rate, we traveled around the countryside and walked pretty
much anywhere we wanted to. Our first indication that precautions were still
being taken was when we walked across a decontamination mat in Belfast after
disembarking the ferry from Stranraer. Two days later we found a footpath
at the Cliffs of Moher fenced off and three signs posted. That night we
heard that infected sheep had been found. It's interesting that we walked
all over the London airport yesterday and were never decontaminated. Anyway,
upon our return to the US, we were asked to come forward if we had been
in the countryside and if we stayed in B&B's. The next person asked us which
countries, the next person what roads we had used, and the final sprayed
all the shoes we used and gave us in depth information about what to do
when we got home (take a thorough hot shower, shampoo hair, wash everything
in a bleach solution) and instructions to stay away from livestock for ten
days as we may be carrying the virus in our lungs. We were also provided
with a written explanation of FMD. The FDA agents were very informative
and were willing to answer all our questions. I guess I don't have any good
advice to offer except to go ahead and go. These countries are wonderful;
we honestly thought everything was under control when we went and really
didn't think we were entering high risk areas. It's up to us now to make
sure we do what we were told by US officials.
MN USA 08/31/01
We are a '4 diamond Silver award' bed & Breakfast in the center of
the Cotswold .. Stow-on-the-Wold. We have many, many American guests stay
with us here who enjoy their walks. They take the opportunity to walk around
the local countryside, to which there are many footpaths open to the public.
Before they leave us in 'South Hill Lodge' after breakfast, we (Linda and
myself- Barry) always ensure they are aware of the places they can go and
those they can't. Happily, those walks they can do outweigh those difficult.
It's a matter of common sense! We're now even happier to report that our
guests just keep coming back! INVITATION...Rick, please come see us next
time you are in our neck of the woods. To whet your appetite, why not visit
our website at www.SmoothHound.co.uk/hotels/southhill. Anyway, thanks for
your time. Hope to hear from you. With our best regards...Linda & Barry
Digby, 'South Hill Lodge', Fosseway, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire GL54
1JU, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1451 831083 / email: email@example.com.
Bye for now!
Linda and Barry Digby
Stow on the Wold, UK, UK 08/26/01
STATE FAIR WARNING! Having just returned from an 8 day trip to London,
I found out that this foot and mouth disease is carried on shoes, clothing,
and even in sinuses. YUK. Because of the crisis our State Fair this year
is "requesting" that all visitors who have been in Europe in the past 7
days refrain from entering the animal exhibits. No giant pig for me this
year I guess. Mind the warnings - the animals are their livelihood.
MN USA 08/22/01
Just returned from England- hiked for 5 days all over the Cotswolds.
lots of signs about hoof 'n mouth - no closed trails - occasional disinfectant
tub. Different story north of York in the Yorkshire Moors National Forest-
50%+ trails still closed but you can certainly find a good hike if you look
- (wouldn't attempt the Cleveland Trail at this time) lots of disinfectant
mats encountered. locals talked about cases of H & M on nearby farms.
Durham, NC USA 08/20/01
Just returned from France and at the airport in New York were food
sniffing dogs to search the luggage at the carousel. Don't bother bringing
NY USA 08/09/01
Rick; Thank you for going to Britain and showing that the countryside is
not falling apart. Most of the blame on this mis-information has to go to
the North American media who don't understand this virus and just scare
people away. I was in Britain in May, for my 10th time, and I couldn't believe
how quiet it was. Stirling Castle had about 20 people in it and North Wales
was near empty over the May Day bank holiday. I was not inconvenienced at
all in my visit. People were glad to see me and the weather was amazing.
Once again Rick, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Lake Louise, AB Canada 08/04/01
In the news this past week in Britain, it has come out that farmers
are actually buying diseased sheep in order to get the 100k pounds from
the gov't. I spent my last day in England on a farm mucking around a field
with cows and sheep. Getting back into the U.S. today, I purposefully went
over to the USDA section of customs and told them directly that I had been
on a farm, and what are they going to do about it. Call it an experiment.
If I hadn't told them, they wouldn't have done a thing. I got my shoes sprayed
with disinfectant. No problem.
Philadelphia, PA USA 08/03/01
On my returning from Europe a week ago, all passengers on my flight
were personally quizzed by USDA personnel about were we on a farm and do
we have any meat and dairy products. My daughter also arrived home last
week from three weeks in Mongolia, where foot-and-mouth is endemic, and
she was working with livestock (as a veterinary medical volunteer) and nobody
asked her anything! This is really scary! It appears that the USDA is concentrating
on European travelers only, forgetting all the F&M in the rest of the world!
Mary from Oregon
I own a small hotel in Glenfinnan, Scotland. It is in my (biased) opinion one of the most beautiful places on earth, and every year we look forward to welcoming tourists from the USA aswell as Europe. I came across this site while surfing the net for something else entirely today, and was heartened to read so many positive comments about visits to Britain despite the current foot and mouth problems. We have been very badly hit here in the Highlands by the crisis. Not a single case of foot and mouth has been reported north of Glasgow, but despite that many people have decided to stay away. Our visitor numbers are down by around 33% on last year, with little sign of them picking up. The whole community is suffering as around here: tourism is by far the most important factor in our economy. Many people have been unable to get work this summer as hotels and other tourist-related businesses have taken on less staff because of the lack of visitors.
However, I do want to say a big thank you to those folks from the States
who have been brave enough to come over. A number of our guests have said
that they came despite dire warnings from friends, the press and television
about Britain being dangerous to visit, or with so many restrictions that
their holiday would be ruined. Some were even warned that our water may
not be safe! For those who have come, it is better than ever, with quieter
roads and no queues to visit any of the local attractions, as well as
many special offers to take advantage of. And, of course, there are now
no restrictions at all on the hills and footpaths. SCOTLAND IS FULLY OPEN
FOR BUSINESS - we look forward to welcoming many more visitors from the
US next year.
Glenfinnan, near Fort William, Scotland, UK 07/24/01
I'm an American living in Britain, and just returned from a week in
the Lake District (the area hardest hit by Foot and Mouth) and thought I'd
give an update. There are still new F&M cases every day, but it affected
our trip only slightly. We drove over a number of disinfectant mats, and
had to dip our shoes in a few places. The TI said only about 14% of the
footpaths in the district are currently open (so watch for the many walkers
on the roads!). If you intend to do any hiking, check with the TI as soon
as you get there, and they can give you maps of what is currently open and
closed. The closures are affecting the serious fells walkers the most; if
you just want to get out and do a few short hikes during your stay, you
can find beautiful places to do it. Cat Bells WAS open - we didn't do it,
as I have a one-year-old and a four-year-old, but we saw the stick figures
on the ridge! Rick's "best hour-long lakeside walk" along Derwentwater was,
unfortunately, still closed. We took the lake cruise (beautiful!), but the
boat currently can stop only on the east side of the lake. You can stop
at Lodore Falls, but the stops along the west side, including Hight Brandlehow
and Hawse End, are closed. Follow Rick's "car hiking from Keswick" directions,
though - the views were incredible! The Lakeland Sheep and Wool Centre is
open but obviously is having no sheep shows right now. We heard Castlerigg
Stone Circle was closed. For any Beatrix Potter fans, her house Hill Top
reopened the week we were there, after being closed for months. There was
no actual F&M in that area, but surrounding farms had potential exposure
to the disease and the Hill Top car park is actually adjacent to a farmer's
yard. There are restricted opening hours due to short staff, so CALL AHEAD
(015394-36269) to book a timed ticket. Currently open Thurs through Sun
from 11:00 to 4:30 (yes, those are different days from normal!), while the
Beatrix Potter Gallery in nearby Hawkshead is open Mon through Thurs, same
hours. Dove Cottage is open (I don't think it ever closed). We stayed in
a self-catering cottage so I didn't check out any of Rick's B&B recommendations,
but there were lots of "vacancy" signs about. Shop owners we talked to said
their business is down about 50% so far this year, and many may fold. Bottom
line - we had a GREAT week - beautiful scenery, most attractions open, nice
walking on country lanes (and enough higher trails to keep you busy) even
if you can't get on a specific footpath, fewer crowds than usual, and you
will still see sheep grazing in the fields! I highly recommend a stop there,
even if you can't spend but a couple of days.
Suffolk, UK 07/18/01
I just got back from a tour to England, Wales & Ireland. We had a fantastic
time. We had to step on disinfected mats when crossing borders and on the
ferry boat. Because of this, don't wear sandals or canvas shoes. Disinfectant
oozing over your toes is pretty unpleasant. You can't bring ANY dairy procducts
with you either — that includes cheese or yogurt snacks.
Hurst, TX USA 07/02/01
On June 16, we returned from a trip to England with stays in London,
Penzance (Cornwall), Nottingham and Dover...with a day in Boulogne, France.
We saw lists of both Open and Closed Cornish footpaths at the TIC in Penzance.
Options abounded for what to see and do. While on a bus riding down a B-road
to the Minack Theatre (highly recommended!), we did see a notice that a
path was closed as a precaution. It was so remote only serious hikers would've
reached the spot. The only CLOSED area I saw was in Mickleover, Derby (an
urban area) that had a sign reading "Hoof and Mouth Restricted Area." I
didn't go down that road. We were thrilled to spend our dollars at businesses
that needed our presence. I highly recommend Lynwood B&B on Morrab Road
in Penzance...can't say enough wonderful things about our stay there. Time
and the variety of things to do didn't permit us to see all the sights during
our six days in that area. Crowds were thin to non-existent, other Americans
were rare sights and the welcome we received (as a family travelling with
two children, ages 3 and 9) was wonderful. This year's visit to England
was fabulous. I encourage you all to go and enjoy!
Iowa City, IA USA 06/28/01
Hi! As an American transplanted from San Francisco to Dublin, Ireland,
I really want to emphasize that Ireland is a beautiful country that everyone
should have a chance to visit. Unfortunately, the Foot & Mouth Disease which
had run rampant in England is thought to be widespread in Ireland and it's
not and never has been! All the press releases and news articles from Rick
talk about England, but no one is telling the story of gorgeous Ireland
- no disease - and no tourists! The local B&B's (of which there are quite
a few) are really hurting the most - the individuals who can least afford
such a downturn in business. Don't ignore the Emerald Isle as a spot on
this wonderful earth to visit.
Dublin, Ireland 06/26/01
Bringing shrink wrapped meats (salame, sausage) from Italy. Customs
confiscated my four sausages from Italy. I assumed it would be ok since
Italy has not been affected. However, customs was very emphatic upon arrive
in Chicago from Italy. I declared it on my customs form and they took them.
Dont depend on the duty free shops to give you advice on what to bring.
Cheeses and dried fruits were acceptable according to the customs agent.
Chatham, Il USA 06/26/01
Having returned June 16 from four weeks in Ireland, Scotland, and the Lake District in England, my husband and I found the hoof and mouth scare to be of almost no consequence to tourism. The media have been very irresponsible in their reporting of this crisis. We were appalled by the misinformation disseminated by the media; one fellow who lives 1-1/2 hours south of the Lake District said how terrible it must have been for us to not see any livestock, but rather only funeral pyres of dead animals in the Lake District! This was a common attitude we encountered. Au contraire, there were sheep and cattle everywhere we visited, even in the Lake District.
Frankly, the only tourists still being affected by hoof and mouth are
hikers, as many footpaths are still quarantined (this mostly in the Lake
District and, happily, last week several more pathways were scheduled
to reopen). For other travelers, this is a wonderful time to visit as
the crowds of tourists are significantly down. We saw no clouds of smoke
from burning carcasses, the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful, and
the tourism industry is eager to host travelers.
We also have just returned from the UK and were traveling in some of the areas that were hit hard by the disease. Yes, some of the footpaths are closed, but not all. The only real disappointment we experienced was at Hadrian's Wall. We could only see a portion of it instead of hiking along it.
The countryside is beautiful and because of the decrease in tourists, it is a fine time to visit. There are no long waiting times for events and restaurants. There is no inconvenience in driving over some disinfectant mats or dipping your hiking shoes in a solution before traveling farther on the paths.
Not only are the farmers suffering from this unfortunate outbreak but
also the tourist industry. Be smart and go now; you won't be disappointed.
Muenster, Germany, DE 06/16/01
Great News: Large parts of the Lake District have been re-opened to walkers. (Relevant story... http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1379000/1379339.stm)
I've just been up to Scotland for a week or so. There are a few restricted
areas but mainly it's down to common sense: Don't approach/feed farm animals
and everthing's okay. We camped out on one of the most beautiful beaches
I've ever seen and had the place pretty much to ourselves. If you're thinking
of a visit - do it, you won't be disappointed.
Preston, Lancashire, UK 06/11/01
I drove 1200 miles in England and Scotland, in early April, with no
real inconveniences at all. BUT, the biggest problem I had was avoiding
hikers and walkers on the roads — since a lot of the paths are closed, there
were so many pedestrians, it is a wonder that there are not accidents hourly
(esp. in the Cotswolds)! Be careful. Other than that, it was painless, and
Alleman, IA USA 06/09/01
Have been living in Cumbria (the epicenter of the outbreak) since September and agree that although most of the hiking paths in the Lake District are closed, the towns are unaffected other than the lack of tourism. Without the crowds, it's actually a great time to visit. The on-road bicycling is the best it's been and it's easy to get a table in the restaurants. Now is the time to visit if you're looking for a beautiful peaceful setting, friendly people, and great beer.
P.S. there are still places to walk in the Lake District, but it's best
to check with the Tourist Information offices or http://www.cumbriacc.gov.uk/news/footandmouth/pathways/default.asp
to see what's open.
W. Richland, WA USA 06/07/01
My husband and I just returned (6/4/01) from England and France. We
visited the Cotswolds, Warwick Castle and surrounding areas, and Bath. In
France, we went to Bayeux in Normandy. We had no problems or restrictions.
The only thing asked of us when we reentered the US in Seattle, WA was, "have you visited any farms?" The answer was "No," and that was that. There
were no footbaths or anything like that.
Anchorage, AK USA 06/06/01
We returned on May 14th from our trip to the UK and we had virtually no problems relating to Foot and Mouth. We went through London, York, Edinburgh, North Wales, Bath and Cornwall.
It's true that tourism has obviously been affected. Many of the B & Bs we stayed at were empty or not as booked as they usually are this time of year.
The only notice we took of F & M was driving over some mats, and walking
over mats before visiting some country houses. Not once did we find that
a site we had planned to see was closed or restricted. There is so much
to do that one can easily plan a vacation to the UK and not feel restricted.
It seems to me that the press has blown out of proportion the effects
of F & M on tourism.
seattle, wa USA 06/06/01
I visited England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland from April 26-May 11. It was a good experience. By all means, don't worry about Foot and Mouth ruining your trip. Ireland was more zealous about preventive measures — placing moist mats at some entrances, but it was not like wading through chemicals.
Go! Enjoy! If anything, it will be less crowded. Support the Brits and
help the tourist industry make a recovery. They don't deserve all of the
Collierville, TN USA 06/05/01
This board helped relieve a lot of my worries before we left on our trip of England/Scotland/Channel Islands from May 18-June 3rd. Now I'm here to tell everyone to GO!
I saw the foot and mouth restrictions the most in the Lake District - we had to drive over disinfectant and many footpaths were closed. Many were closed in the Cotswolds as well. And when disembarking off the ferry to the Channel Islands we had to walk over disinfectant, but that was all. The Channel Islands have had no cases and we hiked to our heart's content!
There was so much to see even with the restrictions. It seems that all
the tourists are staying away...we barely had ANY lines at many popular
attractions, like London Tower. The weather was beautiful our entire trip
and the people were great. They are so happy we came! So, please all continue
to go! We had a wonderful time!
St Paul, MN USA 06/05/01
I spent 10 days in Belfast and Dublin at the end of April. The rural
sections of the Ulster Folk Museum were closed, as were the footpaths leading
east from the Giants' Causeway (driving there from Belfast, we twice encountered
checkpoints with disinfectant mats & fellows spraying down the tires). Mats
at the airports & at Trinity College in Dublin as well — but other than this,
no particular inconveniences. You might want to eschew sandals or open-toed
shoes, as some of the mats are pretty squishy with vaguely noxious stuff — but
then again, I saw no melted or corroded tootsies in my travels...
Baltimore, MD USA 05/31/01
We just returned from England — Bath, Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds and London. Crowds were very thin and London did not seem to be crowded with tourists at all.
All of the public footpaths in and around Chipping Campden are still closed. Locals expressed a lot of frustration about this since there have been no Foot and Mouth cases in the area. We were able to walk on the small secondary roads and visited other local towns this way.
The only place we saw disinfecting mats was at Sudely Castle.
No questions at Gatwick or Detroit.
One note: The Cotswold Link bus which ran from Bath to Stratford no
longer seems to run. Therefore, we had to take three trains and a local
bus from Bath to Chipping Campden and this took approximately 5 hours.
Otherwise, B&B's were excellent and suggestions from his book were extremely
Delaware, OH USA 05/29/01
I just returned from 5 weeks in Holland and England and had no problems at all with F&M. I travelled in London, Malvern, Gloustershire, Tewksbury and Godalming and was not affected. While I did see straw disinfectant mats across some farm entryways, it did not restrict my activities. Had a fabulous time and will definitely go again. Loved Rick's books!
I was only disappointed because I thought Stonehenge was still closed
while I was there, but didn't bother to call to find out whether it had
re-opened. I should have done this because I have since found out via
the internet that it had already opened while I was there, and I would
have loved to see it. So, learn from my mistake and call to confirm site
Victoria, BC Canada 05/25/01
CORNWALL May 21, 2001 trip ended. National Trust properties are fully
open with some minor restrictions about pasture land. Some home farm paths
at Heligan garden were closed (great taxi driver from St. Austell rail,
07790-201943), some south and northern cornwall coastal paths were closed.
In Oxfordshire, some Blenheim Castle paths were restricted but minor inconvenience
only. No complaints, plenty to see and do, and plenty of walking done.
A Lady Gardener
Boston, MA USA 05/23/01
The USDA folks at Customs thanked me for being honest when I volunteered
the info that I'd been on a farm and also been hiking in France — even
through France isn't a super-bad "Hot Spot." In no time at all, they spritzed
my shoes and sent me on my way.
WV USA 05/23/01
We just returned from a delightful 3-week trip to England, Scotland & Ireland. No problems whatsoever from F&M, in fact in most places it was as if there were no problems at all. We were amazed. There were a few disinfectent mats around, but not many.
We had been warned about eating beef, lamb, etc. while gone but did that as well, & no problems.
We did the Cliffs of Moher & the general trail up to the top, which
are open, while other areas are marked as closed. But why does there always
have to be ONE stupid person who has to disobey the signs? Well, we saw
ours & it was truly infuriating watching him walk the restricted trail.
He was too far away for us to stop him. A real pity, & a good indication
why these things spread. Be a good traveler & visitor & respect what is
requested of us - please!
Solana Beach, CA USA 05/23/01
We had a wonderful two-week trip over Easter in Portsmouth, Salisbury, Malvern, Chester, York, Kenilworth, Warwick, Cotswolds & London. No inconvienences from F&M, but large crowds in York, etc. from vacationing Brits! Many, many of Rick's B&B recommendations were full.
Everyone we met was friendly, helpful and courteous! I'd encourage people
to visit now while tourism is down, it was terrific. (And now our daughter
just returned from the Lake District and said it was lovely, unrestricted
Irvine, CA USA 05/22/01
We just returned yesterday from 16 days in England. During that time we walked towpaths, spent 4 days on a canal boat (disenfected our shoes getting on and off the boat), and were at country B&Bs in Warwickshire and Kent.
We were not inconvenienced at all! There is no shortage of food, and almost every attraction is open. Some footpaths are still closed, so walkers might have to change plans, but otherwise it is business as usual. Or would be if the media hadn't made such a big deal about it. We watched this site regularly before departing and found it most informative.
The farmers are being compensated for their losses, but the tourist
industry is not! So please go if you were planning to. And if you weren't
planning to, maybe you should. What better time to go. There has been
a drastic reduction of North Americans visiting so far. We stayed with
a wonderful couple at Shirkoak Farm in Kent and they knew of other B&Bs
going under because of the lack of tourists. With less competition in
the years ahead prices will only go up. But I feel that I'm preaching
to the already converted because anyone who follows Rick's philosophy
is probably an informed traveler anyway.
Gary & Jan Shook
Surrey, BC CANADA 05/22/01
I just returned from taking a group of 14 hikers to Ireland. The trails
and national parks are reopened, and there were no limitations on our hiking.
We walked across the occasional mat, but were not at all inconvenienced.
Our guide, Maeve Kelly from Irish Ways, was wonderful, and everyone in Ireland
is eager to have the tourists return. In spite of all the scare there is
no reason not to go hiking in Ireland.
Stamford, CT USA 05/22/01
Returned from England last week and can also report little to no inconveniences due to Foot and Mouth; we planned on a city & village jaunt and had another perfect trip. Visited Bath, Lacock, Castle Combe, Wells, London, Richmond, Portsmouth and Arundel. While many public footpaths remain closed, we had great walks along towpaths in Bath and Richmond and through the small village streets.
We also enjoyed another wonderful stay at Manor Farm B&B just outside
of Wells. Ros has four new lambs in the field across the street (you watch
them out the window while eating breakfast), and her happy free-range
chickens are laying more eggs than she can feed to guests (I'm afraid
F&M has scared more than a few people away). If you're traveling in the
Glastonbury/Wells area, I highly recommend this marvelous B&B.
RI USA 05/21/01
We just got back from two weeks in England, Ireland, North Ireland, Wales and Scotland. We had minimal problems with Foot and Mouth disease. London and Bath were fairly crowded, and the locals were pleased that the tourists were back. Wales, Scotland and Ireland were very quiet.
Stonehenge and Avebury were completely open and we were able to do everything on the Mad Max tour from Bath. We did have to walk across a disinfectant mat of hay at Stonehenge. St. Fagans Folk Museum in Wales was all open, but with lots of disinfectant mats. We had no problems in London or Edinburgh, being big cities.
No one we talked to thought it was a problem any more — it was not even mentioned on the BBC news, which we watched almost every night. Most felt that the American media made it worse than it ever was — although they did say that it had been devasting to the farmers.
In North Ireland, however, there were a number of "Closed for Foot and Mouth" signs, but we were able to go to Dunluce Castle, Giant's Causeway, and the Antrim coast and glens with no problems. We did see a whole exit to a bay on the coast closed for Foot and Mouth.
The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum had disinfectant mats everywhere and the Farm section was closed entirely. They said the whole place had been closed for two months previously.
When we drove across the border from North Ireland to Ireland we had to drive across mats and drive through a mist spray of disinfectant. There were no problems seen around Dublin.
When we arrived at the airport in Belfast we were given a handout asking us to shower and wash all of our clothes as soon as possible, and we walked across disinfectant mats. We didn't have to walk across any disinfectant mats leaving Ireland and didn't have to walk across any coming into the US. An overhead announcement in Atlanta told us that if we had been on a farm we should contact an Agricultural officer.
We didn't miss anything we planned to do due to foot and mouth. We are
planning on staying away from any farm or zoo for the next month just
in case we got near anything. We are glad that we didn't listen to the
people who thought we should stay home — we didn't have another time we
could have gone! Every single person we met there was wonderful and we
hope that the crisis is really over.
Provo, UT USA 05/20/01
We just got back from two weeks in London and Paris. We stayed in the cities, and had no trouble at all with Foot and Mouth. We had no trouble taking the train to Paris and back, and were never questioned.
Arriving back at Dulles, we were never questioned, and no disinfection, etc. There was a brief announcement on the plane stating that if we had been to any farms, please let customs and immigration know.
Anyway, go and have a great time, there were no crowds, or long lines.
Richmond, VA USA 05/20/01
We just returned from 2 weeks in England and Scotland, where we followed an abbreviated version of Rick's suggested route.
Most trails are closed, and Avebury was closed except for a path from parking lot to museum. Farmers still wanted people to stay off their land as was evident by posted signs. Blenheim was open, as were all tourist sights in the towns and cities.
If you can get by without hiking then the trip will be wonderful. Would have liked to hike the Lakes District, but there is always the next trip.
By the way, in Keswick, Rick recommends some nice B&B's. When we were were there on a Monday they were full. Just across the way at the Crowe Park Hotel (actually another B&B), we were given a better price, and had a better view of Derwenter (ask for room 22).
We never made a reservation at any B&B, and just couldn't bring ourselves to ask for discounts. However, we did not hesitate to mention what our budget for lodging was, and more than once, were given a more expensive room for what we mentioned as our budget.
Never made reservations and never had trouble, except on the Monday
of a bank holiday. I would not worry about advance reservation unless
a holiday period, or in London. The country was beautifully green and
lush. The people everywhere were most welcoming. And we got lucky, though
we took umbrellas, we never used them.
Bill and Kelly Arrington
Stillwater, Ok USA 05/19/01
Just returned from vacation in southwest England (Wiltshire, Hampshire). Landed at Gatwick, rented a car and headed straight for the countryside.
We had a fabulous time. We went everywhere and anywhere we wanted to - EXCEPT on the lovely footpaths that crisscross the countryside. This was quite regrettable because rambling over the fields and valleys of England is one of the most divine things one can do. There were signs saying "STOP - do not walk on this footpath" at the entrance to almost every path and we respected them.
Nonetheless by staying on the "B's" - that is, the smaller roads - we were able to see so much. No pyres of burning corpses or anything unpleasant like that.
On our return, a nice woman from the AG Department washed the soles of our shoes and that was all. Just to be safe, we decided to wash all our clothes used on the trip when we returned.
The long and the short of it is GO GO GO. The food is better than on
previous trips, and the real cask ales (a.k.a. bitter) are wonderful as
Chapel Hill, NC USA 05/17/01
I just returned from 2 weeks throughout Scotland — Oban, Isle of Skye, Wester Ross, Iverness, Pitlochry. Gardens were open, National Trust properties open, most foot trails have caution recommendations posted — and the people I talked with encouraged me to tell folks at home, especially cancelling Americans, that "we're not foaming at the mouth and we're not shooting our animals. Please do come visit us."
Yes, the disease is still covered in the press and there's lots of discussion
about the government response, but I wouldn't cancel my plans. Use the
foot mats, go through the road barricades to disinfect tires — but make
the trip. The countryside is stunning, flowers and baby lambs or cattle
frolic, and the welcome is warm. Food is excellent and either meat or
vegetarian options abound. The small hotels and businesses really need
Southfield, MI USA 05/15/01
Just returned from a ten-day trip to Dublin, Amsterdam, and London. Hardly a mention of F&M disease in London or Amsterdam except for a few signs at the airport. We stayed mostly in the cities but did take some daytrips. Unless you are planning on hiking or camping in rural areas, I would not hesitate to go.
Dublin had lots of disinfectant mats around the city and at the airport, but we were able to see everything we wanted. Also took a trip to Newgrange which had just recently reopened. They seemed to be opening lots of other sites as well.
No problems coming back to the US. Only a few questions and no disinfectant
MI USA 05/15/01
We just returned from a 4-week trip to the UK....Yorkshire and Wiltshire in England, central Scotland and North and West Wales. We put over 3400 miles on our rental car and had a wonderful time in towns, villages, driving over mountain passes, on canals, and visiting historic sights, etc.
We encountered a few disinfectant sites in some rural areas, but found that driving or walking over a mat wasn't a big deal. A number of walking paths (that pass through farmland) are still closed, but many previously closed paths have been reopened, and ALL walks on tarmac (many of these are rural) have never closed!
The rural scenery is spectacular, the historic sights are too numerous
to count, the people are warm and welcoming, and the pub food is great!
Don't hesitate to visit this beautiful part of the world.
Had problems visiting the De Hoge Veluwe National Park near Arnhem
in the Netherlands (on 4/30). Most of the park was closed because of Foot-and-Mouth
(they don't want it to spread to the park). There is only one entrance open
(Otterlo). The only area of the park open was the main road between Otterlo
and the Kroller-Muller Museum. This meant I had to bus it from Arnhem to
Otterlo instead of having a nice bike ride. Also, the entrance is the one
place I had to get my boots sanitized (walk across sanitizing mats — no big
John S. Watson
Sunnyvale, CA USA 05/14/01
I have just returned from 16 days in the UK and Ireland. There were
only minor inconveniences of walking on damp disinfectant mats. Feel assured
that you will enjoy a trip to the country. The only ones who might be inconvenienced
are those who want to do long walks in the countryside through farms. By
all means go visit the UK and Ireland.
Collierville, TN USA 05/14/01
Just another update from the current "Best of Britain" tour. No problems
at all for the tour. We are in York and sadly coming to the end of a great
20 days. F&M has had no effect on our travels. We took a great 4-mile walk
in the Lake District (lots of paths were closed, but enough were open to
allow us to enjoy this great part of England). If you are wondering if you
should come to Britain, the answer is a big YES.
Sherman Oaks (via York), CA USA 05/14/01
I also went to the UK recently, and flew back to Chicago's O'Hare and
grabbed my bags and went home — no searches or washings or anything to indicate
concern as to my whereabouts. Thankfully I am not only a responsible person
but I live in the middle of the city, so the chances of me speading something
are slim. And I did, for the record, bring another pair of shoes for wearing
home. Either the U.S doesn't really care (YEP!) or it was a lot of hoopla
Milwaukee, WI USA 05/13/01
We just returned from the UK on May 10th. Most of Hadrian's Wall was closed including Houstead's Fort (5/3). Most of the walking paths in the Lake District were closed as well (5/7).
In the Lake District, pamphlets are available noting what paths and walking opportunities are available. Be sure to get one as soon as you arrive.
If you are a "driving tourist," you will feel relatively little impact since most tarmac roads are open. Bus tours are also a great alternative.
This is having a devastating effect on the tourism industry in Cumbria
as well as the farming community. The people of the Lake District are
warm and open. The scenery is beautiful. Even with the restrictions, it's
a great place to visit.
Bellevue, WA USA 05/13/01
I was in Great Britain during the peak of the epidemic (March 15-25), with the intended focus of this trip being Devon and the Cotswolds. Didn't get to do many of the things that I had planned, and was disappointed that all the National Trust properties were closed, including Stonehenge. However, there is much more to see and do if you are willing to be flexible and open to changing plans. It still was a very rewarding vacation even with the restrictions that we all encountered.
I was most surprised upon returning to the US (Houston). There were
no questions, no disinfecting mats or sprays or anything. Just get your
luggage, clear customs, and go. There were no precautions taken to prevent
possible contamination and spread of the disease.
Houston, TX USA 05/09/01
I was in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France, and the *only* time
I ever saw a Foot-and-Mouth warning was at the Milan Malpensa airport.
Foster City, ca USA 05/07/01
I am allowed to walk or drive along an unfenced road that runs through
a field containing cattle at Watford in Northamptonshire. A hundred yards
away I am not allowed to walk along a canal towpath with the same cattle
on the other side of the hedge. Not sure about the logic...
northampton, UK 05/07/01
The foot and mouth crisis is as good as over (I can't think of any
major attractions closed since the weekend past), and we're all eating beef
(the problem was with meat eaten in the late eighties and early nineties)!
Americans are welcome vistors in the UK, and most people who come are surprised
by the fact that the country is not on its knees, mired in crisis, as is
London, UK 05/07/01
My daughter and I just returned from a trip to Ireland. We had scheduled a trip to Britain but changed out plans because of F&M. We are walkers, and knew paths were closed.
We found that a great many paths and sites in Ireland were also closed, even though they have had only 3 outbreaks in the north of Ireland. Phoenix Park in Dublin and the Dublin zoo were closed, as were Glendalough, Powerscourt and several other sites that have walking trails. We found some beautiful walks along the coastline (Bray to Greystones, for example) but really had to rework out itinerary.
We spent 1 day in Brighton before returning home. Lots of disinfectant mats there.
There were 3 or 4 new outbreaks in Exmoor the day we left. What effect this will have on towpath reopenings I don't know.
Interestingly, we went through no mats upon landing in Philadelphia.
Just back from three weeks in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague. And, to my amazement, I saw more reports about Foot & Mouth on American television feeds than on local television. Restaurants and markets were packed for the Easter holidays, but just to be cautious, I made it a point to eat chicken, fish, salads, and pastas, and stay away from the steaks and pub food I usually gorge on (lost 12 pounds, I'm proud to say — no meat and the tremendous amount of exercise did me good).
Back home, at Los Angeles International Airport, right before you hit customs, there is a sign that reads, "Help keep Foot & Mouth Disease out of the United States." But that was it. No questions, no disinfection. Then again, I wasn't returning from England...
For all those thinking of going, go!
los ageles, ca USA 05/07/01
I live on the edge of one of the most beautiful parts of England -
the Lake District. Don't let the recent outbreak of foot and mouth desease
stop you from visiting. The only thing you may not be able to do is walk
across fields, hills & the farmland. Just about everything else is now just
about back to normal. The villages, towns and certainly the cities were
always open. Humans CANNOT get foot and mouth desease. So come and see England
while tourist levels are down, you will have more space, there are some
great discounts around and people will be real glad to see you.
We are currently on the Rick Steves' Best of Britain tour, and everything
is fine, lots of cows and sheep in the fields. We've had to walk across
a few mats, and some areas are closed. But nothing has been cancelled. We
are having a great time! Come and enjoy Britain — we are.
Sherman Oaks (currently in Wales), CA USA 05/04/01
I'm taking a group of 40 to the Scottish Highlands in June and have
been in constant touch with locals about conditions. Apparently hoof & mouth
requires certain temp./humidity to spread & these conditions aren't favorable
in the Highlands/Hebrides. We're told that everything is open and are looking
forward to fewer tourists than usual due to "panic" cancellations. Have
been to this beautiful part of the world many times & can't wait 'til next
month. Don't cancel your trip!
Augusta, GA USA 05/04/01
Just returned from London and Paris and was not at all affected by
the hoof and mouth epidemic. There was no mention of it on restaurant menus
or in the grocery stores — not a disclaimer to be found. Took the "chunnel" from London to Paris and were surprised to find out at the other end that
they seemed to have no qualms about arrivals from England. They asked us
no questions as to our whereabouts and there was no obvious spot to get
Webster, ny USA 05/03/01
My wife and I just returned from a fantastic trip to the English countryside,
and just wanted to reconfirm that Foot-and-Mouth had no real effect on our
travel plans. Everywhere we went was open, with only trails through farmland
closed. I suspect that the only people really having to alter their travel
plans are the British themselves, as they love their walking and hiking
holidays. We weren't hampered in the least from doing what we wanted, or
going where we had planned, and we had a really magic time. So, go and have
some fun. Foot-and-Mouth is not a problem for travelers.
Reno, NV USA 05/02/01
I returned from two weeks in England over Easter. The first week, I joined to friends in renting a cottage in Charmouth (Dorset coast). The Coastal Path was closed at that time (April 7-14), but there was talk that it would be re-opened soon. Businesses that appeared to cater to English tourists (those taking walking holidays, etc.) commented that business was "slow."
Only one of three hotels and one of three pubs was open in Charmouth, and clerks in a craft centre said they were "barely hanging on." It's really too bad, because I had a wonderful visit and found plenty of alternative activities (exploring little villages, walking on the beach, shopping).
The second of my two weeks was in the Midlands, and that did not appear to be impacted by F&M at all. Visited the Cotswolds, saw Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon, and went through several National Trust Properties, including those in rural areas (we had to step on disinfectant-soaked mats or drive over treated straw in some areas - big deal!)
London was wonderful, as always and the natives were especially friendly to me, as an American. One thing I did notice on walking tours in London was that, while in previous years, most participants were Americans, this time, there were far fewer Americans. My advice - go, have a good time! You won't even notice the restrictions and there is certainly plenty to do!
Portland, or USA 04/29/01
Just got back to the UK from a wonderful week with Hans and Marjet
in Haarlem. We went by the Harwich to Hook of Holland ferry. I was astonished
to see the different attitudes exhibited by the British and Dutch officials.
On arriving at the port of Harwich (UK) the car had to drive over a mat
but the passengers did not have to once we drove on the ship. No questions
from the British officials. At the other end all cars were stopped by Dutch
army and we were asked if we had any meat or meat products, dairy, or grain.
The grain was new to me.
There were signs all over the ship saying that these would be confiscated by the Dutch officials and they were. The car in front of me filled a trash bag up and handed it over. Within Holland many of the attractions had mats. Enkhuisen was open and wonderful, with a mat. Zaanse Schans was open, filled with tourists, and had a mat. So did the island of Marken, among many. On our return it was the same encounter with the Dutch army (not allowed to export or import) but not a word from the Brits. Holland has had a handful of cases, the UK's working on killing 2 million animals. Go figger.
Balsall Common, near Coventry, England 04/29/01
We got back last week from the English countryside. You will find signs
that won't let you get off the road and explore, but our trip was not diminished
that much. We drove throught the Cotswolds during Easter weekend. We couldn't
walk footpaths. We decided to spend several days driving through Devon & Cornwall. We drove through Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks.
You can't walk the paths, but this was the most beautiful and rewarding part of our road trip through the countryside. The people are friendly. They want the business. I would definately suggest that you go. Crowds are down, and the trade off of what you can't do is more than outweighed by the beauty of what you can see and do.
The epitome of the confusion on Foot and Mouth was dramatically demonstrated to me as I listened to the BBC, or local station the morning of my return home. I was driving, listening to the morning show, which was focused on F & M. One caller said his B&B was devastated; he was in from the coast, and relied on hunting business. He had to close; he was saved by getting a job with someone else. The next caller remarked that he had just traveled to Europe, and the Customs people in the Netherlands and France didn't really care. He had no trouble crossing the borders.
Even the Brits, just like the radio program indicates, wonder about the true extent of the issue because of all the media hype. Yes, they're culling over a million animals, yet we saw sheep & cows all most everywhere we went. So, unless your trip was a mostly walking only trip, go and enjoy.
John in Ohio
Columbus, OH USA 04/26/01
I agree with the other people who have just visited the UK. There is
SO much to do despite this epidemic, that it was really quite overwhelming!
I had a wonderful two weeks, even getting the chance to see Stonehenge!
I even got to get to see the countryside (Cotswolds) while doing a fun 220
mile treasure hunt. When driving through the Cotswolds, I noticed quite
a few tourists in one touristy town. Lots of traffic. I'm sure that tourist
numbers are down, but that town seemed to be busy with tourists, parked
cars lined the streets. (Easter Weekend) I only noticed the Foot and Mouth
epidemic while visiting Stonehenge- we had to walk over straw with disinfectant;
and in that general Wiltshire area. And, during the treasure hunt, we did
go through one smokey area, which had an acrid smell to it, but I couldn't
say if it had to do with epidemic or not. There were signs posted in the
area of Foot and Mouth, but hard to say what farm had it.
I just didn't walk on any farm, and stayed mostly in the car. No problems at the airport either. I thought that they would have a disinfectant mat just off the plane (which makes the most sense), but we walked quite a distance before being separated and made to walk over the mat and then put our luggage in a X-ray machine to check for imported food. I am avoiding farms for a month, and have washed all my clothing just to be safe. But otherwise, quite a fun trip!
Prince George, BC Canada 04/26/01
Just back from a wonderful trip to the Highlands, Skye and Lewis. Apart from two prehistoric sites on Skye, which were in farmers' fields full of animals (and thus off limits), we were not restricted at all, and had the region to ourselves. B&B's were empty, as were the castles, standing stone circles, the Cuillan Hills (which are now open for walking), the Quirang, the roads and the ferries.
On the return, we had no trouble at all; no disinfectant mats, no searches,
no questions, except about being on a farm. Go now! The countryside is
glorious, and the people there are so friendly and gracious. It was our
best trip yet!
NC USA 04/25/01
Don't change your plans! We just returned from a 3-week trip through rural Great Britain and Wales. We did have to change a few plans, but we looked at these as opportunities. We found lots of back door places we never would have explored.
B&B's are wide open and hungry for our business. We had no trouble booking B&Bs at the last minute in the small towns and cities.
If you were planning on doing extensive walking, try a canal boat instead. We found a cheap one to hire - in fact cheaper than staying in B&Bs. It gave us LOTS of excercise — you can walk the towpaths to your heart's content. Not to mention the chance to spend the night moored in the shadow of a castle with no one else around.
This was one of our best trips to Great Britain. The sights have very
few tourists, no lines! We were warmly welcomed and our business was greatly
Wellington, CO USA 04/25/01
I'm an American expat living in a rural area of the UK (south Cheshire).
As many of the other recent American visitors to the UK have noted, there
should be minimal impact to anyone's visit here unless you plan on doing
a great deal of rural walking. Many tourist sites out in the country are
now opening or were never closed. The National Trust website is a good place
to check for opening details: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/LBNews.htm.
The number of new F&M cases is dropping each day, and I expect footpaths will begin opening soon, as there is a great deal of public pressure to do so, and apparently not a good basis for keeping them closed. The newspaper The Guardian has a good special report area with current F&M news and other useful links and resources. It is: http://www.guardian.co.uk/footandmouth/.
The day to day impact that foot and mouth has had on us (and we live on a very rural dairy farm) has only been that we have to take our garbage bin up the drive each week. We spend most weekends traveling and have not needed to change plans once - in fact last minute rooms have been very easy to arrange. And I have yet to see a single animal carcass. I'd strongly encourage anyone considering a change to their holiday plans to rethink it and do a bit of research on the web - it's quiet in the countryside now and except for the cold April we're having, spring and summer should be a perfect time to come.
Swettenham Heath, Cheshire, UK 04/23/01
Just returned from the U.K. (London and Mansfield, Notts). No problems
as they are metro areas. Even when I flew to Brussels from London, the Belgians
did not require anyone to walk on a disinfectant mat nor did they even ask
if I had been on a farm! The U.S. Customs searched my bags, turns out they
mis-read my declaration form and were looking for "soup" instead of "soap"
San Diego, CA USA 04/22/01
Just got back from a trip to France, Germany and Switzerland. When
cars went from Strasbourg, France to Kehl, Germany they were required to
drive over a "wash". Other than that, we saw no affects. In Chicago, customs
asked us if we'd been to any farms and we said no, so there was no special
procedure to go through. Also, a word about Mad Cow — not only are they
eating beef all over Europe, in Paris steak tartare is featured on every
San Diego, CA USA 04/22/01
We are a family of five who just spent spring break in Britain. We
had no itinerary when we left, but we spent our time in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire
and the Lake District. We were able to get into Youth Hostels with no reservations.
We were able to walk on any paved roads, but not on any paths. We spent
a lot of time in Keswick and Ambleside and tried out as many pubs as we
could find! We had no problems amusing ourselves.
Bethesda, MD USA 04/20/01
I just returned from an eleven day trip to the UK and had a wonderful
time. A trip to the Lake District for several days had been in the original
plans, but instead we spent a couple of days in Paris. The only other
glimpses of Foot-and-Mouth I saw were signs posted restricting access
to Broadway Folly, the Blenheim Palace grounds (although not the actual
palace) and a canal footpath. We spent a day wandering through various
Cotswolds towns and were not restricted at all. We also spent a day in
Stratford-Upon-Avon and London, and quite a few days wandering around
Oxford. The only burning pyres I saw were on tv. Some of the lack of caution
concerned me, as we only had to drive over two disinfectant mats (one
at the entrance to a falconry and one before driving onto the train at
the channel tunnel) and we walked over none.
At the Pittsburgh Airport we were asked if we had visited any farms and that was the extent of it. A woman before me actually answered yes, a sheep farm, but I don't believe they did anything.
We had quite alot of chocolate (which we didn't know wasn't allowed until
we saw the sign in Gatwick) but it wasn't taken away from us.
At any rate, you can go to the UK and have a great time with a little caution, there's still more to do there than can be done on any length vacation. This was my first trip overseas (I'm 17) and it wasn't dampened at all by the disease. I plan on returning to the UK (and to the rest of Europe!) and seeing all things I didn't see this time around. I like to view the changes of plans in my trip not as "missing out" on some things but as just "rearranging," trading some things I had planned to see in the future anyway for things I couldn't see this time around. Cheers
Dayton, OH USA 04/20/01
Just came back from a lovely week in London, Greenwich, York, Bath...no
trouble whatsoever in the towns, or with travel between them, if anything,
lack of crowds made it more enjoyable than previous trips...was uncertain
about bringing chocolates back, but some Cadbury is clearly labelled "made
in Ireland", and had no problems with it in customs.
NC USA 04/19/01
I am SO happy I did not listen to those who said I shouldn't go to
England right now. I just returned from 5 wonderful days in the Cotswolds
and - because there were so few tourists there - got fantastic deals on
hotels!! In fact, we stayed in a 13th century manor house we could not have
afforded had it not been for the poor showing of tourists. Because we were
not hiking, we were completedly unaffected by the path closings. We toured
even the most remote country sites and it was wonderful.
The only place we couldn't visit due to foot and mouth was Berkley Castle, which may be re-opened by now. Over all, the lack of tourists can really work to your benefit - lower prices and only natives to rub elbows with. If you're wanting to go to the Cotswolds, don't cancel!
Atlanta, GA USA 04/19/01
My husband and I just returned (last night in fact!) from a 3 week
trip to Ireland — only 3 days in England. I want to express to everyone
a couple of things: First, agriculture and TOURISM are the major sources
of income for people in the Republic, so the Foot and Mouth situation has
extremely severe implications for the livelihoods of these people. We had
a fantastic time despite the fact that (with the exception of the Rock of
Cashel and Jerpoint Abbey) everything was posted with a notice.
Don't cancel your trips just because you can't do the touristy stuff! Take advantage of the low prices, low congestion, and experience the out-of- the-way places that you might not have explored otherwise. I believe that I had a BETTER time on this trip than I would have if we had stuck to a tourist-oriented schedule. Relax, and enjoy the people — that's the best part of Ireland anyway!
Second, the media frenzy depicting funeral pyres, stating that one can smell the "burning flesh" as soon as you get to Heathrow airport is sensationalist bunk. The only thing you smell at Heathrow is jet and diesel fumes. Didn't see one burning animal anywhere. I'm not saying this isn't a serious problem (it IS), but to cancel a trip because the media want to "Jerry Springer" the problem is ludicrous. (*Disclaimer: to anyone affliated with the Jerry Springer show, please don't sue me... I'm funny!) Anyhow, with a little sense and some creativity, a trip to Ireland can be one that you won't ever forget and one you certainly won't find on the typical travel itinerary! In fact, this trip was the perfect way for my husband and I to "test the water" and jot down where we want to explore in greater detail for the next trip.
Columbus, OH USA 04/19/01
I read that many companies are cancelling their Britain tours because
foot and mouth is causing slow sales. At Europe Through the Back Door, we
run our tours even if only half full. In fact, we have several Britain tours
going this spring with plenty of empty seats for those all packed up but
without a guide ready to show them around (see ricksteves.com/2001tours
for the latest). Even with some rural sights out-of-bounds, Britain is packed
with great things to see, eat, and do.
Edmonds, WA USA 04/19/01
I had worked long and hard planning our self-driving trip through Ireland
the end of May and was very appreciative of the tips offered by many on
the Graffiti Wall. After careful consideration we decided to postpone until
next year. It is just too costly to not be able to see and do what you have
been planning to do. And after speaking with friends in Ireland, they agreed.
I was especially greatful for the tip on airline refunds. We were flying
Continental Airlines into Shannon and they were kind enough to give us a
full refund. Hopefully, next year will be better for us all. We will look
forward to it.
Springfield, PA USA 04/18/01
I had planned to do an escorted tour of England & Scotland in June.
However, I have just returned from my travel agent and found out the two
tours I was interested in had been cancelled due to poor bookings. For those
wanting to do an escorted tour, be sure to check in advance. For those traveling
on their own, this should not be a concern.
During our trip through Ireland and Scotland (April 2-14), we found
many of the sites we were most interested in closed due to FMD, including
the Hill of Tara, the Gallarus Oratorium, and Kilchurn Castle. However,
we were able to tour the Rock of Cashel, Eileen Donan Castle, and Edinburgh
Castle. We missed Inverary due to our own failure to do the research: it
is always closed on Fridays. Similarly, Castle Stalker is open only two
months out of the year — July and August, we think. These disappointments
didn't ruin our trip, though — both countries are very beautiful (in surprisingly
different ways), and the people are kind beyond words. Unless you have a
very specific interest in seeing certain sites which are now closed, I would
not suggest delaying a planned trip.
Dallas, TX USA 04/17/01
Returned on April 15 after visiting London, the Cotwolds, North and
South Wales, and Bath. Even got to visit Stonehenge on the 12th, although
we were not allowed to walk all the way around the stones, the access provided
made the side trip worth it. Avebury was closed-about all that you do is
drive through the town. Harlech castle has reopened. The only places where
we felt constrained were in the Cotswolds and in Snowdonia National Park.
At the present time, I would limit my Cotswold visit to one night or skip
it altogether, and save a longer visit for next time since you should do
at least some walking to really appreciate the Cotwolds. Although most of
the "lay-bys" were roped off in Snowdonia, we had a perfectly clear morning
driving from Bets-y Coed to Caernarvan. We decided that having such beautiful
weather was worth the trade off and will save our walks there for next time!
Cleared customs in MSP with no problems.
Mill Creek, WA USA 04/16/01
We just returned from a 2-week driving vacation in Ireland. The Irish people were very helpful and friendly and the scenic drives were amazing.
There were a number of sites closed due to Foot and Mouth, including those on the Rick Steves' Dingle Way tour. Any site that you have to travel through land to get to is closed; this is also why fishing in many areas is banned. There are no problems as long as you stay on the roads or main walking paths and do not go off trails.
Many of the sights had a sign posted at the entrance and were chained or roped off, like at the Cliffs of Moher. (You can see the cliffs from one view, but you can't walk around to get a closer look or go to the tower.) Other sights had a sign, but no real boundaries keeping people out and in those cases, we were respectful and did not go in. Sometimes a sign was posted at a road leading into a site and we saw cars apparently missing these signs and turning in. There were also a couple of times that we saw people violating the rules and walking in areas they should not, and this was just irresponsible.
There were disinfectant mats in front of many stores and pubs, but none upon our return to JFK Airport. And there was no questioning at all from any customs agents.
Many of the B&B owners we spoke with are receiving a number of cancellations or a big decline in bookings. At one B&B, they told us they believe the Foot and Mouth should be clearing up in a couple of weeks when the temperature rises, because the virus cannot survive. This was the first I had heard of this and I wonder if it is true.
In summary, the foot and mouth precautions did not deter us from having
a great time in Ireland. We did not have any problems on the road and
did not encounter any roadblocks (except from sheep and cows). The national
parks are closed, but the roads through the park are not and we were able
to do the Ring of Kerry tour. The food was great and there weren't inflated
prices as rumored. There is plenty to see and do in Ireland and I'm looking
forward to my next visit!
New York, NY USA 04/15/01
As a person traveling to Great Britain in June I have decided not to
let the outbreak ruin my trip. With common sense and a little intelligence
I should be perfectly fine.
MA USA 04/15/01
Just returned from 10 days in London where life goes on as usual. We also traveled to Cambridge, York, Bath and Waddesdon Manor (where we had our shoes disinfected and the taxi tires were all disinfected) with no problems but the rain and cold. Ate lots of fish, but by choice. There are just no probems in the cities.
We returned to the States through San Francisco where we were asked
about bringing in meat, which we did not, and they were not at all interested
in our chocolate! Go and have a good time!
San Mateo, CA USA 04/14/01
I am currently in Britain, and regardless of what the British government says about footpaths opening, etc. the countryside is very concerned about people traipsing around. Not only about spreading the disease from farm to farm and losing their livelihood, but because these farmers are honestly worried that their animals will suffer. Most have a great affinity for animals and I can tell you from my experience this is first and foremost on their minds.
I have been walking in the cities and caverns of England, and enjoying
myself immensely. I will return and walk the countryside one day, but
that isn't now.
Birch Bay, WA USA 04/14/01
My wife and I leave for a week in London on May 15. Can't wait and
not letting the hype frighten me. But I've heard a rumor that US customs
agents won't let any British chocolate into the US. If this is true, I'll
really be bummed out!
Denver, CO USA 04/13/01
Traveled to Dartmouth, Devon in March 2001. While I couldn't walk through the countryside, I hoofed it many a mile in the harbor area and along the beaches at Slapton Sands and Blackpool Sands. Apparently, beaches are still open.
I also traveled by bus through south Devon, visiting used bookstores, enjoying the cream teas and hobnobbing with the locals on how their government was handling the crisis. Fields are full of happy sheep. You do NOT see piles of dead animals or smell smoking flesh. It looks just like England!
The US Dept. of Ag. was sloppy in their work when I returned through
Chicago O'Hare. INSIST that they disinfect your footwear. I made a point
to hit a laundromat before I left England and, although I visited no farms
in Europe, I have also been careful not to step on any Wisconsin farm
for the last few weeks.
Baraboo, WI USA 04/12/01
We are leaving tomorrow for a 4-week trip to the UK. We spent a month there last spring and just HAD to return!
Our plans to rent a car at the airport and stay in 5 lovely self-catering
cottages in England, Scotland, and Wales have not changed. The various
web sites are encouraging and we know from past experience that there
is more to see and do than could ever be acomplished in a few weeks, even
if a few sites remain closed. We are saddened for the farmers and will,
of course, follow ALL advised precautions while in this beautiful part
of the world.
My mother, her sister, her daughter, and I are leaving May 28th for
about 3 weeks in England. We're enthusiastically looking forward to this,
our first ever overseas trip, but if we can't do all the things I have painstakingly
planned, we'll just "wing it" and modify our itinerary as necessary. We
certainly will follow all restrictions and take all precautions to avoid
making the situation there any worse, but I didn't want to contribute to
their difficulties by cancelling our trip. We'll just be more flexible and
adventurous. I certainly appreciate reading all the comments on this website,
it makes me more positive about our trip. And I know we'll have a marvelous
Tracyton, WA USA 04/11/01
I am still taking my delightful Rick Steves followers on my "Secret
Cotswolds" tour. There is no danger at all from Foot and Mouth. We stay
on the road and do not go into farms and onto footpaths. The countryside
is looking stunning with hundreds of daffodils flowering and all the trees
bursting with buds.
THE COTSWOLDS, UK 04/11/01
A friend in Gloucestershire, England sent this to me. His e-mail was titled, "Don't Visit Britain or Europe Yet!" After reading some of the other posts, however, I feel a good trip is possible if one is EXTREMELY careful!
"Foot and Mouth is still raging strongly here and there are new cases reported daily; sadly there is no good news. There is a farm just down the road with 150 cattle that got Foot and Mouth. The farmer's wife hid as the vet's gun went off and all the 150 cattle were shot, then there was the awful stink as the bodies were burnt. This is the same grisly story all over the British Isles and Europe at present.
"The waterways have been closed, but now they are being opened up again,
and some footpaths too, but there will be large tanks of disinfectant
everywhere until this disaster is over."
Palm Desert, CA USA 04/10/01
I just returned from three weeks in Europe. On March 23rd I left Venice
for Prague by train. The last leg of the journey was a night train. We left
Munich at about 22:15. At about 2:30 we were awakened by Czech security
guys (I'm not sure if they were police or military) with guns who had come
into our compartment. They were yelling at us to do something but we didn't
know what because we didn't speak Czech!
They gestured for us to get off the train. Still half asleep - and a little freaked out - we decided to take our bags with us. When we got off we were directed to get in line with the rest of the passengers. As we got to the front of the line we finally figured out what was going on. They were making us walk on a mat that was soaked with a solution to disinfect our shoes.
It was the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen. I don't see how it did any good. They didn't disinfect the train. We got back on and walked on the same floor we had walked on before our shoes had been disinfected. (And what about the other pair of shoes I had in my backpack?) The three of us in our compartment enjoyed a good chuckle and went back to sleep.
Paul M. Mucha
Cleveland, OH USA 04/08/01
I just returned from England and Scotland. There were plenty of burning
pyres, but few restrictions other than some castle and stately home closings
in country areas. I think if you are not looking at major tourist attractions,
but just visiting villages and towns, you'll have a wonderful time.
In Devon, we walked the coastline around Appledore and Instow and it was my idea of heaven! Although we saw army personnel, no roads were blocked and we quite accidentally found ourselves deep in farm country. Unfortunate that despite the news reports, general travel into these areas was unrestricted. They may be closing stately homes, but they don't appear to be closing farm roads. We did, by the way, eat plenty of clotted cream, with no ill effects.
In the Lake District, we stayed in Morecomb near Lancaster and trekked miles along the beach. In Scotland, again no restrictions. Skye is open and beautiful. My biggest concern was with customs - a total lack of consistency in regulations. I was told by a girl in a giftshop at Gatwick that no English chocolate could be brought into the US, although machines at the boarding area were selling it and people were buying it to bring on the plane. My son had to dispose of a can of tinned dog food - fish flavor - although he was allowed to keep the one labeled 'rabbit'.. Very lax at customs in St. Louis.. no disinfecting, nothing our of the ordinary except more x-rays of luggage. (I, too, discarded old walking shoes before I left England and thoroughly washed/disinfected clothes upon my return.)
St. Louis, MO USA 04/08/01
I had originally planned to take a trip to England in May. After much
consideration, I've decided to postpone until September, and hope things
are looking better by then. Already some of the sites I intended to see
are opening up, like Stonehenge. There may still be sites I'll have to miss,
but I think Britain has more to see and do than you could accomplish in
a lifetime. I'll go over there with a list of alternative things to do,
in case some of the sites I wanted to see are still closed. I can save those
sites for a future trip. Like Rick says, "Assume you'll be going back."
MN USA 04/08/01
I am surprised by comments here that there are few places closed in
Britain. Stonehenge is closed. There are virtually no footpaths open in
the country. Of the open footpaths, you will likely feel quite unwelcome;
the locals don't want you around helping to spead foot and mouth disease.
There are many tourist sites closed, regardless of what the government says.
London, however, remains open (and expensive). If that is your ONLY destination,
have no fear. If, however, you wish to visit the Southern coast or the Cotswalds
(or many other locations), you might be advised to wait for another year.
Chicago, IL USA 04/08/01
[Editor's Note: Stonehenge is scheduled to reopen on Tuesday, April 10.]
My wife and I will be visiting England and Scotland for the first time
during most of May. We considered changing plans, but this is something
we've been planning for a couple of years, and the airline tickets we purchased
several months ago are highly restricted. We are basically following the
itinerary Rick Steves put in his Great Britain 2000 book, so we're going
to be primarily in the countryside.
After spending days on the internet reading everything I could find on foot-and-mouth and travel restrictions, we decided to stick with our plans. There are things we want to do and see that we'll have to miss, but I think the "pros" outweigh the "cons". I've talked to several B&B people as we've made our reservations, and they've been very encouraging.
I am concerned about the lack of precautions in the US for returning travelers. I'm going to clean/disinfect everything as best I can before returning from London. Thanks to all who have contributed good info on returning from your recent trips, and to those in the U.K. who have provided info.
San Diego, USA 04/07/01
We just got back from a tour in Ireland. A lot of the sites were closed
but there still was quite a bit to do. I was astonished that coming back
over to the US there were no precautions at all — not even mats. In Ireland
there were mats in front of all stores and pubs and the sites that were
closed were closed. We could not go near any farmland or some castles and
many parks were closed but there still were pubs to visit and Dublin as
well as the Ring of Kerry.
It is quite safe to holiday in England. Although most of the footpaths
over our fells (mountains ) are closed you can still hike on asfault roads.
We are working on opening some of the walks that stay clear of farm animals.
You are not going to see nasty sights. There are still all the other sight
seeing places to go and lots of towns and villages to visit. You will receive
a very warm welcome in the lake district.
keswick, Cumbria UK 04/06/01
My husband and I along with my sister and her husband have been planning
our trip to England and Scotland for two years. The last few weeks, I have
spent many hours on the internet reading everthing I can about the foot
and mouth disease and travel to Britain. We are definitely going ahead with
our plans for three weeks in May.
There will be a few places that we probably won't be able to see, but many are opening up slowly. Stonehenge will be open 4/14 and Blenheim Palace, Glencoe, Culloden have all opened up, and they were on my "must see" list! I believe that all visitors should be concientious of any restrictions and take precautions when and where necessary for the safety of the county you are visiting and the country you will be returning to.
I look forward to my second visit to England and Scotland and sharing such beautiful countries with my husband. Get great information from english-heritage.org.uk; national trust.org.uk; nts.org.uk; and ricksteves.com.
Yakima, WA USA 04/06/01
We are going to visit England in late May. After reading about foot-and-mouth,
we decided to stay with our plans. England is beautiful and interesting.
We view this upcoming visit as an adverture and expect there will be fewer
tourists with whom to compete.
I went to rural England a couple years ago — it was wonderful. And
I do feel sorry for the small businesses that are hurt by the outbreak.
But I would never go now — the chance of bringing hoof and mouth disease
into the States is too great. Frankly, I'm alarmed at the casual attitude
being reported and, I regret to say, promoted by this board. If you are
patting yourself on the back for supporting rural England, think a moment
about how you are supporting rural Americans (US, Canada, Mexico) by importing
a highly contagious, devastating farm disease.
support American farmers
nc USA 04/05/01
My husband, 9 yr.old daughter and I just returned (3/30/01) from England
and had the time of our lives. I did get myself all worked up before leaving
the country reading all the British websites and tourist information I could.
We did however find ourselves defending our decision to go with our own
mothers who had confused Mad Cow disease and the Hoof and Mouth tragedy
and left with a level head and high hopes.
We had original plans to stay in Woodstock and see Blenheim Palace but after watching the news each night in London, we decided to cancel. We felt badly that we had to do this, but we still had so much to see in London, that it worked out well. We did travel to Brighton for the last three days of our trip and had a wonderful time. We even saw Queen Elizabeth as she was in Brighton for the day. That was a major thrill, no more than four feet from her. She was beautiful.
The news each night was conflicted and scary. We got the feeling there were two sides and neither could agree on what to tell people. Tony Blair said, "Go! The country is open," and country folk were quoted as saying "We are not sure it's the best time to visit." I felt very sad for the farmers and the families and listening to their tragic stories. One of my most favorite places in the world is being devastated by disease and confusion and politics. It would be a crime to cancel any travel plans to visit.
Go. The people are charming, the sights are wonderous and there is plenty of everything for everyone. It was a perfect trip. Just use your good judgement, be informed and open your heart and minds.
Lee's Summit, MO USA 04/04/01
I run three Hotels at Glencoe in the Highlands. Because this area has
been designated "provisionally free" things from the tourists point of view
are largely back to normal here. For up to date information on this area
please visit www.freedomglen.co.uk/fandm.html
For a general balanced view try www.visitscotland.com
or email me with any questions. A warm welcome and a great vacation awaits
you in the Highlands of Scotland.
Highlands of Scotland, UK 04/04/01
I just returned Sunday from a week in Ireland. The trip to a working
sheep farm had to be cancelled and one castle was closed so the itenerary
was just altered. We had wonderful meals including fish, beef, pork and
lamb. Disinfecting mats are being used in public places. We toured all week
with no problems. Entry back into the US was uneventful. I'm looking forward
to going to Paris in November.
Houston, TX USA 04/03/01
We're booked, with our two teen boys, to arrive in Keswick on April
12. We plan on making the best of it, obeying all rules, and being very
flexible. Life is an adventure, and I would feel terrible cancelling out
when what Britain needs most right now, aside from a cure for foot & mouth,
My boys are quite cheered by the fact that although there won't be hiking (like we had so much fun doing in Ireland 2 Easters ago) there will now be time to take them to the world's fastest roller coaster in Blackpool (I checked, it's open) and that was not on our original agenda! We'll be in York & Scotland as well, and I'll let you know how things went on our return.
ny USA 04/03/01
A few health notes: Foot and Mouth (per my daughter, a veterinary student,
it's called either "foot' of "hoof" in the US; what she had to learn is
the scientific name) is not transmissible to humans through meat. Cloven-hoofed
animals — sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, deer, etc. — are affected. If you want
to follow the progress of the disease on the European continent, the French
call it "fievre aptheuse." The person with the question about BSE — Mad Cow
Disease: this disease affects only cattle (beef and veal). It can be transmitted
through the meat only if spinal cord tissue is cut into the meat when butchering.
This practice is now illegal in the EU — they are supposed to dissect out
the spine and not cut through it. However, some illegal practices still
go on. Also, all cattle are supposed to be tested for BSE before slaughter.
Again, you have to hope the beef/veal you are eating was butchered legally.
If you are worried, avoid beef and veal, but you can eat lamb, pork, chicken,
rabbit, etc. to your heart's content. Milk products are not a problem as
they come from living cows, and nobody is cutting into their spinal cords.
However, I have some concerns that slicing through the spinal cord is the
normal way of butchering in the USA. And then there's E. Coli and all the
antibiotica and growth hormones we feed to our cattle. Ever wonder why Europe
doesn;t want to import American beef? If we're gonna be paranoid about meat,
let's start at home!
Mary from Oregon
My boys are traveling to the United Kingdom and I am, of course, concerned.
But from what I have read below, this sounds like a fabulous place to visit!
I don't plan to discourage them in any way, if something is closed, go to
the village and meet somebody. People are so funny. I got a few chuckles
from your notes.
CA USA 04/02/01
For accurate up to date information about the foot and mouth disease
situation in Ireland please check http://www.rte.ie/footandmouth To see
what visitor attractions are opened check http://www.rte.ie/footandmouth/reopenings.html
Obviously outdoor pursuits in the countryside e.g. hiking, walking, fishing
are off limits currently, but many urban areas are operating as normal with
disinfection procedures in place.
Cork, Ireland 04/02/01
Recently, I visited friends in the UK Cumbria (Lake District). I did
have to revise my plans to see Hadrian's Wall, go horseback riding and to
see the Castlerigg Stone Circles.However, I changed my iterniary and visted
historical sites in the villages and towns. I would greatly encourage tourists
NOT to cancel their trips as England has so many historical sites to veiw.
Please be conscietious about the restrictions on the public footpaths and
avoid farms or contact with farm animals. I encountered no problems in clearing
customs in Chicago.
Kansas City, MO USA 04/02/01
I just returned from 8 days in London and had a similar experience
re-entering the USA as the previous posts. It was announced as we approached
Atlanta Hartsfield International that anyone spending time on a farm or
B&B in the countryside to make themselves known to the Dept of Agricultur
folks in Customs. No dipping, no confiscation. We sailed right through.
We had, however, spent our entire time in London, barely trod on grass the
whole time there! Had a wonderful time! The tube strike happened at 9 p.m.
our last night there and as we were taking the Gatwick Express train from
Victoria Station to Gatwick the next morning, we were not inconvienced in
the least. I love London! I would be curious about women traveling alone
in London. I was with a friend but felt the whole time that this was a place
that I would venture to alone. Would love others comments.
Athens, GA USA 04/02/01
We just got back from London and Bath. Our B & B hostess requested
that we inform all Rick Steve travelers that she will not be charging her
usual cancellation fees due to the foot and mouth crisis. This is the Parkside
B & B in Bath. Hopefully, this will assist people who do not feel comfortable
traveling in Britain now. We experienced much what everyone has already
said. Some tourists sites are closed although they will drive you by Stonehenge
to take pictures. We were allowed to walk around Avesbury although not directly
around the stones. The British news is very concerned with the decline in
tourism so a lot of the restrictions initially put in place are being loosened.
We had a good trip and encourage anyone who was planning on going to adapt
their itinerary to the circumstances. There is plenty to do. We also did
not get disinfected and feel that maybe we should have. Have a good trip!
TX USA 04/02/01
I understand the Hoof and mouth disease crisis. It's the mad cow I'm
most concerned about. Is the cheese and pork (ham) safe to eat in France?
So. San Francisco, Ca. USA 04/02/01
I just returned from the UK on 3/30. As mentioned in previous postings
we didn't have any additional precautions as we re-entered the US. No footbaths
or questions regarding our travels. Frankly, after seeing and witnessing
what the disease is doing to the farmers and tourism in the countryside
I wish customs was doing more to prevent the spread to the US. We spent
time along some beaches in Wales and were able to see most things - although
at times from a distance. As previously mentioned all trails are pretty
much closed. Hiking would be out of the question.
Shawnee, KS USA 04/01/01
We just returned from 3 weeks in Ireland and England (3/31/01). Make
no mistake, the Foot and Mouth crisis is and will be devastating for the
British countryside. English exports will probably be forbidden for the
next 2 years. Interestingly enough, though, Britain stands to lose more
internal tourism than external tourism. However, the only damage it did
to our trip was to keep us from hiking in Ireland and from seeing Stonehenge
or Blenheim Palace in England. If, on the other hand, we would have been
interested in the Lake district, Hadrian's wall, or Scotland, extensive
hiking, or exploring the 490 lesser-known sights on the Great British Heritage
Pass, we would have been disappointed. Incidentally, sales of the Great
British Heritage Pass have been temporarily suspended. Go! You'll find many
B&Bs with vacancies and friendly welcomes. But do be conscientious.
portland, OR USA 04/01/01
We have just returned from London's Heathrow airport and arrived home
at Chicago's O'Hare airport on United. There was no chemical footbath, no
questions by customs. The only thing that gave any clue that there was a
hoof and mouth outbreak was a one-page black and white photocopied sign
taped to the entryway from the plane to the airport that said "Help stop
foot and mouth disease. Don't bring meat products into the US from the UK" or something to that effect. Other than that, you would have never known
that it was a problem.
Chicago, IL USA 04/01/01
Whoops! I meant to say -I had not (been on a farm) and there was no
further inquiry and no shoe disinfection. Please excuse my inability to
properly type a sentence, as demonstrated in post below.
I just returned from a trip to the UK. As in the post below, US customs
was fairly lax about those entering from UK. I was only asked if I had been
on a farm. I had not not and there was no further inquiry and not show disinfection.
Surprisingly, France did even less. I rode the Eurostar to Paris and simply
got off the train and went on my way. French customs did not stop anyone
and I saw no officials disinfecting shoes, etc. I stayed in the cities -
London, Edinburgh, and York - so I was not in the position to really be
affected by path closings and other efforts to stop the spread of foot and
mouth. The trip was wonderful and the disease should not stop trips to the
U USA 03/31/01
I am encouraged by all the sane and careful comments by most of the
participants in the graffiti wall. I am also outraged by such people as
the ONE who suggested asking for REDUCED rates. I hope I never run into
you in my travels. You won`t recognize me as an American. I dress conservatively
and act accordingly — but I bet I can pick YOU out. Try to rethink your attitude.
Jean from Oregon
OR USA 03/31/01
I just returned from a trip to the UK. We had a wonderful time. I didn't
find the disinfection pads to be any inconvenience. I typically wipe my
feet on a door mat before entering a building any way. The delayed trains
proved to be far more annoying than any of the Foot and Mouth precautions
we were kindly asked to observe. We chose not to eat meat of our own accord
which afforded us the opportunity to try some wonderful seafood dishes we
probably wouldn't have otherwise. My only complaint was that we opted to
purchase train and ferry passage to Ireland at a considerable expense since
it was our once in a life time chance to spend St. Patrick's Day in Ireland.
We spent alot of time communicating with the tourism board in Ireland to
arrange our trip, including an e mail received the day before we left. They
repeatedly touted the thrill we'd have celebrating St. Patrick's Day in
traditional style in Dublin. Needless to stay, we were shocked when we docked
to discover that the parade and nearly all of the festivities had been cancelled
for the first time in 72 years due to F&M disease precautions. I understand
why they opted to cancel, but I didn't appreciate being deceived into thinking
otherwise in an effort to secure my tourist dollars. The fact is that I
would have opted to travel to Ireland regardless since it is a beautiful
country with much to offer. Regardless, our trip was wonderful, and I remain
a huge fan of travel in the UK.
I've had well-laid plans to rent a house in Dorset (south coast) and
hike the coastal path with English friends over their Easter vacation for
the past year. Our rental is 7-14 April. My friends told me that the path
is closed. They also told me that meat is virtually unavailable and what
is available is expensive because it is imported. Nevertheless I am going,
and we will still go to Dorset. We may not be able to hike the coastal path,
but we can beachcomb, relax, and enjoy the English countryside. And if I
have to be disinfected when I come home, so be it! My biggest concern is
dairy products - will I still be able to get clotted cream???
Portland, OR USA 03/31/01
I just returned from three weeks in Britain where I had a wonderful
time! I originally planned to hike in the Lake District and along Hadrian's
Wall, but I had to change my plans because of the FMD outbreak and the quarantine
restrictions. Instead, I discovered a couple of wonderful towns (Canterbury
and Warwick) that I just loved staying in and got to spend some extra time
in London, a city that can't be fully explored in a lifetime. Regarding
the precautions you mentioned about containing the spread of the disease:
Procedures such as shoe disinfection just are not happening contrary to
what's in the popular press. I clearly marked my US Customs declaration
form to indicate that I had been in rural areas (the Cotswolds) and that
I was bringing in agricultural produce (some marmalade). No one paid the
slightest attention when I entered the US at the end of my trip! There was
no shoe disinfection (a practice of questionable efficacy anyway) either
before or after I left Britain to return to the US. Given how lax the procedures
were, I can only assume that it's just a matter of time before the disease
reaches the US. The only thing that can slow it down is for people who travel
to areas with the disease to be sensible about not going into places where
the disease is definitely known to be. So, enjoy the towns and cities, and
stay off of farms until the problem ends.
Clements, CA USA 03/31/01
I think that we all have an obligation to be really, really careful
when we return to the US from Europe. I would rather be a bit paranoid than
be the person to being foot and mouth into the US. I wouldn't cancel plans — in
fact, I'm not canceling them for May. I am, however taking a cheap pair
of tennies to wear and then discard at the airport. I am also taking a disenfectant
spray that we use at work and I will spray my luggage and the shoes that
I am wearing before I return to the US. I find it devastating to see what
is happening in Britain and I just don't want it to happen here. I have
British friends who are at their wits end from this. It isn't worth NOT
thorowing away a $100 pair of shoes to me.
I returned from England on March 27th. We traveled mostly in Southeast
England but found there to be no restrictions other than rural foot paths.
At several locations, you walk through disinfection pads which do not harm
your shoeware. Upon returning to Seattle, via Toronto, I was interviewed
by US Customs because I had gone to a sheep farm in the Cotswolds. There
were very informative and helpful. My shoeware was disinfected and I was
given instructions on washing my clothes upon returning to the US. There
is so much to see in England that you never have the time to see everything.
I would not suggest that anyone cancel their visit due to this outbreak.
Brier, WA USA 03/31/01
I agree it is devasting to the tourist trade there. However, each of
us must make our own decision as to whether to change our travel plans based
on the available information. I cancelled my plans for a countryside UK
vacation. I don't feel I was misinformed and still haven't heard anything
to make me feel it was a wrong decision. I did read everything I could prior
to making the decision from as many sources as possible. Incidentally, part
of the information I took in to consideration was that I still had to pay
80% of the full cost of the B&B I had booked for 7 days. But I do not feel
that going for a countryside vacation and being limited to the towns and
cities made sense so I will do that in another year.
we just returned home from france which is now a potential source for
hoof and mouth - we had been out in the countryside and were carrying strawberries
and raspberries with us from a last morning marketing - we were, of course,
marked to be questioned when we came in - the customs agents were quite
nice - just took our shoes for cleaning - and after checking the list, let
us continue home with our fruit -
We just returned from England and had planned to stay at an old 15th
century framhouse in Blakeney, Gloustershire. While the owners had assured
us that the farm was safe we were very uncomfortable with traveling/staying
there since the disease is so contagious to animals. After consulting MAFF,
the USDA and Gloucester Police, we cancelled our plans,(had to forfeit our
prepaid rental) and stayed in London. We also did not want to be accused
of transporting the disease back into the United States.
At Customs we were asked if we had been on a farm and we were able to say 'no' and were welcomed home. We do not know what would have happened had we said yes. We were glad that we did not have to be scrutinized further since our plane was late and we only had minutes to make our connecting flight home.
Apparently there are different feelings on the subject in England. Some say it is only effecting one percent of animals but ruining the tourist industry but others say it is devastating to farmers and are very sympathetic. It appears to be a political football. But, as you said, we did not want to be the 'Ugly Americans' so we stayed in London.
The tourist industry was not hurt by us. We contributed our share. By staying in London we most definitely spent more and definitely saw more since we did not have the travel involved in getting to the Cotswolds. We did get to the countryside by taking two coach tours(Evan Evans)to Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and visited Warwick Castle.
Jean Ann Richardson
WESTERVILLE, OH USA 03/30/01
I have sadly cancelled my tour this year; I wouldn't have cancelled
it at all, but the tour would have taken me to Devon and Cornwall, Stonehenge
and Avebury. (Rick Steves' site said that Stonehenge would be off-limits,
and I've seen sheep grazing at Avebury, so I'm assuming it would obtain
there too.) I do appreciate word from those who live in the above-mentioned
areas, keeping us abreast of things; I also plan to come to London at some
point later this year, at the very least. Really heartbreaking to think
of the ruination of livelihood that this is causing. All of you in the UK,
please do keep us up to date on ways that we can help.
CA USA 03/29/01
In response to the gentleman who saw nothing wrong with negotiating
for reduced rates at B&B's, please let me ask you to reconsider. Who are
the people that run B&B's, after all? They're likely to be private parties,
perhaps an older couple who work very hard every day for their money, and
not people that can easily afford a downturn in fortune such as Foot and
Mouth is causing. Unless you're under an extreme hardship yourself, please
consider paying the regular price, as the proprietors over there will certainly
be hit very hard by those who can't make the trip at all.
Know what I think? It's unlikely that you'll get foot-and-mouth disease
sitting in a pub, so stay in pubs and all will be well! I'm flying into
Manchester in April and won't be changing my plans. It's a shame that areas
like the Lake District are closed, but there'll still be plenty of English
charm and fish&chips to go around to make up for it.
Toronto, ON CAN 03/29/01
I have planned my trip for June to the Great Britian. There is no way
I am cancelling my second trip. Just use common sense and you will be fine.
What I want to see is in the cities anyway. Whatever I miss this trip-I
will catch on the next one.
Dallas, TX USA 03/29/01
Just received messages back from 3 B & B's that we will be staying
at in August. Inverness, no problem in the highlands. Bath, plenty of sights
still to see. Glasgow, all is well. They all feel, that as usual we Americans
blow things out of proportion. It is sad and bad for the rurual areas, but
all other areas are open. We are looking forward to our trip in August.
Sumner, Wa USA 03/28/01
The National Trust has opened or re-opened about 160 sites, with more
to come. For updated information: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Our relatives andcontacts in Britain say that by June we should be
able to travel fairly comfortably...our plans are to stay in cities, travel
by rail/bus/canal boat. The canals have been closed, but by June they should
be open and we should be able to walk the towpaths, and marked footpaths
into villages, avoiding farms. Our relatives say, don't panic, come ahead.
I would not consider cancelling our well-laid plans for a month in England.
We think we will also be able to see Stonehenge and Hadrian's Wall, at least
from car/bus and the museum at Hadrian's Wall. We are taking two grandchildren
for their first visit for one month...it will work!
Salt Lake City, ut USA 03/27/01
We have followed the FMD news via the web for a month and contacted
several friends in the UK. As a result we are cancelling our planned 3 weeks
in rural England - we were mostly going to hike, visit sheep farms, and
explore tiny villages and back roads. We have a small sheep flock ourselves
and dare not visit rural England right now. If you're going only to cities,
it might be OK, but the rual countryside is in real crisis - even where
the FMD has not broken out, there is great anxiety; the disease seems out
of control at the moment. We are disappointed, but we cannot do the things
we had planned (April 17-May 8) and feel our own anxiety about possibly
bringing the disease back here makes postponement necessary. One cottage
rental has been understanding and the other we have not heard from. The
airline is waiving penalties for changing. It's a hard decision, but became
clear to us what we need to do. JBlake, Vermont
Vt USA 03/27/01
A hotline has been set up for tourists who have specific questions.
The number is found at http://www.maff.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/fmd/tourism.htm
My wife and I are planning our first trip to Great Britain in May (My
first trip abroad!!). For a short time we considered scrapping it in favor
of France or Tuscany. However, keeping a close eye on many British web sites,
noticing that many National Trust and English Heritage sites are reopening,
we decided to go and make an adventure of it all. I personally feel that
going and supporting the local businesses is the least we can do to lend
a hand. Besides, if I don't get to see some sites, it gives us a great excuse
to go back!!!
Pueblo, CO USA 03/27/01
My husband and I just returned from a trip to the UK where we enjoyed
a practically restriction-free vacation. We spent most of our time in the
wonderful city of York visiting our daughter who goes to school there, but
also visited castles and drove back roads in Scotland. We explored the coastal
towns of Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay and Scarborough and enjoyed the drive
through the North Yorkshire Moors. There was an abundance of B & B's available
due to the shortage of tourists. We stayed with a single mom in Edinburgh
who is feeling the pinch now. They need our tourist dollars. We were asked
to walk across one disinfectant mat at a petrol station in rural Scotland,
but that was the extent of our "restrictions". Upon our return to the USA,
we were advised to "wash our clothes" to avoid contamination to livestock
here. There were no other efforts made at SeaTac to disinfect us. I don't
think they are taking it very seriously here, actually. I would encourage
people to go the the UK, but to check ahead to find out what is open. Even
if half the sites were closed, the other half is too wonderful to miss.
Olympia, WA USA 03/27/01
Hello to all of you Americans planning to come to England, Wales and
Scotland. I have found your site by accident and I was shocked to read some
of the comments.
I live in London, I work in the centre of the city and I live right out in the suburbs. I am happy to tell you that foot and mouth has had no effect whatsover on me, my family or friends. You are most welcome to come to London and to enjoy all of the attractions that our city holds .. with no worries about food shortages, food quality, quarantine, disinfectant etc.
Why not go on the London Eye, for a birds eye view of our lovely city? Or visit the new exhibition about Cleopatra at the British Museum. I haven't got any axe to grind, or any reason to promote our city — other than the fact that I love living here. Yes, if you go into the countryside you can't walk over fields. And yes, if you visit Devon or Cumbria you will find foot and mouth. I don't like seeing the images on TV either. But please remember, Devon and Cornwall are hundreds of miles away. You can still visit so many of our lovely historic cities: try York, Bath, Salisbury, Ely, Durham, Warwick, Stratford upon Avon. There are many parts of England, Scotland and Wales completely untouched by Foot and Mouth. So don't forget us... we like to have you here!
London, UK 03/27/01
I just returned from scotland. Sixty of 300 historic Scotland sites
are closed but none of the major sites are. All national trust properties
are closed, including sites with interpretive centers at Glencoe, Bannockburn
and Culloden, and all gardens in country and safari parks. People cheerful
and optimistic as always.
arlington, tx USA 03/27/01
We cancelled our sixteen day excursion to the British and Wales countryside.
Our reservations were made well in advance of our planned April 24 departure,
and we booked by e-mail using Rick's recommendations. We gave five weeks
notice of cancellation, and each B & B owner responded graciously and promptly.
Deposits were refunded, and these lovely folks were very understanding.
We hope to meet these friendly people in 2002.
Dallas, TX USA 03/26/01
A previous correspondent mentioned that Scotland is free of Foot and
Mouth. I believe that one of the major hotspots of the disease is county
of Dumfries and Galloway in the southwest of Scotland. Last week that area
was the first one in Britain to get the firewall treatment - killing all
healthy and sick animals surrounding an infection. Other areas of Scotland
are clear, though. Regarding BSE ("Mad Cow Disease") and vCJD.
Scientists last week tied a cluster of vCJD (the human form of BSE) in Leicestershire
to traditional butchery practices used on BSE. Entire carcasses some years
ago introduced contaminated brain tissue into other areas of the carcass.
We still eat British meat, though way less beef.
Balsall Common, near Coventry and Birmingham, England 03/26/01
I'd like to mention that http://www.visitbritain.com/uk/fandmcancel.htm
which was so accurate and valuable earlier on is getting a little stale.
I don't think it has been updated since the middle of last week when many
places reopened under strong government and tourist industry pressure.
British Waterways http://www.britishwaterways.co.uk/fmd/open.htm have now got a very clear webpage which breaks down the canals in the UK to fully open, open with restrictions, and under severe restrictions. They use a neat green light, yellow light, red light system. English Heritage now have a great page http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/news-events/news/default.asp which is regularly updated with openings and "opening on such-and-such a date". They'll have 200+ properties open by April. National Trust is opening and will open about 160 properties before Easter. They have a pretty easy update page but you have to know the county of the property you are interested in. You can get there easily from http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/; just follow the links for Foot and Mouth. I hope that Visit Britain get their act back together, but when in doubt ask the horse's mouth. Our local supermarkets and restaurants and butchers still have plenty of good quality meat of al kinds, mostly British. I haven't seen the prices jump at all.
Balsall Common, near Birmingham and Coventry, England 03/26/01
I am an American living in England currently. Foot and Mouth Disease
is devasting to the farmers in England and has spread through most of England.
This means countryside walks are closed because humans can spread the disease.
The disease only affects sheep, pigs and cows. Currently only sheep have it in England, but it spreads very fast through the air, on cars and on clothes. The cities and towns are unaffected so a trip to London would be fine. Additionally other places in the UK are unaffected so far (Northern Ireland, Scottland, Wales). There have been reported cases in France and The Netherlands, but it does not seem to be spreading there. So you should keep this in mind when planning your trip. Pork and Lamb are safe to eat. As far as Mad Cow Disease is concerned, there have not been cases of BSE or variant CJD (human form of the disease) in England for a while. There have been recent cases of BSE in Spain and France, but I have not heard of any humans being affected. You have to decide for yourself if you want to eat beef. Mad Cow Disease can spread to humans if brain or spinal cord matter is mixed or contaminates the meat.
Reading, UK 03/25/01
I am planning a tour of Britain in June and feel that the outbreak
should not affect my plans. However I am going to wait until the end of
April before booking my trip. Hopefully in the next month the situation
will become clearer.
Staten Island, NY USA 03/24/01
I feel for the countries effected by foot-and-mouth disease. It is
a terrible blow to their entire economy. We will be postponing our planned
trip to Europe because of it, not out of fear for our own personal safety
but because I would not want to take a chance, however remote, of bringing
the disease back to the USA or spreading it.
My husband and I are visiting London and Paris April 4-18. I too am
concerned about foot and mouth but believe the cities are going to be okay.
The Stratford newspaper has information about what is open in that area.
We all need to support their tourist industry if the outbreak will not directly
destroy our plans. We are flexible and eager to make our first trip. Will
let you know what happened when we return
Chicago, In USA 03/24/01
I'm leaving in two weeks for Europe. I'm planning a 17 day jaunt to
Amsterdam, Berlin, then Prague, and so far I have not decided to change
plans. I think the media has somewhat made this out to be the New Black
Plague of the 21st century. No, I'm not naive, I realize how the famers
in the UK are suffering, and how tourism will be affected in the coming
months, but what can we do? Stay informed, and this site and the links provided
here have been really eye opening for just that...you can't rely on daily
newspapers; the people and experts such as Steves are the only ones to tell
you what's up.
As a courtesy to fellow travelers, anybody trekking over to Europe in the next few weeks should take the time to let the rest of know what you've seen, what you've heard, because any little bit helps, and not just in the UK...I just heard through a Prague source that their government is now going to be making great restrictions to those visitors from Berlin and Poland. Anybody crossing the borders will be meeting up with "officials" before entering. Just exactly what that means I don't know. When I get there, I'll pass that on...also,
I am curious, has "Mad Cow Disease" suddenly disappeared? Has the Foot & Mouth simply replaced that worry? I haven't seen any comments here by people coming back discussing wheather or not they've eaten meat , or how the locals reacted. Is every single McDonald's closed for the year? That would be a big help too for the rest of us. Post some experiences about that part fo the crisis, and if it's even a crisis anymore.
Are customs officers cracking down at the airport in Los Angeles or is that just some sound bite for the 11 o' clock news? My trip has been in the works for the past four months and I intend to take it with all the confidence and courage I've had on my last three treks out.
What about The Netherlands now? Will those cute little bike trips out of Amsterdam be done away with? Will Rick's favorite haunt, Haarlem, be banned for daytrippers? I'll let you know when I get there.
los angeles, ca USA 03/23/01
[Editor's note: So far, only a handful of cases have been reported in the Netherlands, and no tourist sites have been closed. While Haarlem is a medium-sized town, it is by no means rural. We see no reason why any sights there would be closed due to foot-and-mouth.]
We're leaving for England in three weeks and having been planning this
trip for months. Our daughter is studying in England and we won't miss an
opportunity to see her and to expose our nine year old to the wonderful
experience of travel and history in England. We will just extend our family
motto "Adjust... or Adjust" to this trip like all others. We have followed
the releases by the Rural Task force and Tourism Council and "on the spot" reports from our daughter. With care and consideration for the crisis and
the farmers, it should not dampen our fun at all! Cheers!
CA USA 03/22/01
It looks like Ireland has been unable to keep out Foot and Mouth. They
have just had their first case in a northern peninsula area not too far
from Northern Ireland. This is going to be a long summer for European farmers.
My heart goes out to them. My vacation plans to visit England in two weeks?
Modified, but still happening.
I have just returned from a job hunting trip to the UK.In fact I was
in Wales seeking work and I stayed at a farm B&B. There was no real problem
regarding the foot and mouth outbreak and I was able to walk in the countryside
as long as I stayed off the mountain footpaths. My stay in Wales was at
a place called Penrhadw Farm near Merthyr Tydfil.It is in Brecon Beacons
area. I would like to thank Mrs.Hurley,who runs Penrhadw farm as it is absolutely
wonderfull.I was only there for 4 days and during that time enjoyed fabulous
breakfasts before some walking and then job interviews. I would suggest
to people considering the UK for vacation, do not worry at all as things
Hardwar,Uttar Pradesh, India 03/22/01
I want to thank "Rod" from Worcester, MA who posted information on
March 17 regarding Aer Lingus waiving penalty fees. My husband and I and
another couple had planned a trip to England and France at end of May. A
great deal of our England trip was to be in the Midlands and around York.
This outbreak caused us to rethink the timing of the trip.
We hated to cancel reservations, I feel bad for the small hotel industry in the country, but this was a long-awaited plan and was to be quite expensive. So we canceled. Our travel agent told us we would be charged a penalty of 150 dollars per person even though we were going to immediately re-schedule for October. Because of Rod's post I called Delta and within a very few minutes on the phone with a very helpful agent I was able to get confirmation of upgraded tickets for four in October AND they waived the penalty fee. Thanks Rod, and thanks Delta
Port. St. Joe, FL USA 03/22/01
How terrible for the farmers and the British hospitality industry.
We can't imagine how devastating the images of livestock pyres and their
smells are. The quarantine of some farm children is very hard on the kids.
We will do nothing, absolutely nothing, to threaten the containment of this
outbreak. The graphic images of the dead livestock carcass piles and the
many days before they are cleared from the land are haunting. The stories
of farmers losing their entire stock, bred over 300 years by their forebears
— how much sadder can it get for these people?
Although much of what we wanted to see is closed, we intend to visit England in four weeks, unless advised otherwise by farmer's groups, the UK government, or the US. We are choosing this as an expression of our support for the wonderful English people. We think our loss of not being able to use the coastal path is trivial, in light of what the farm community faces.
We also intend to buy postcards of some of the historic sites that may be off limits for foot traffic (but can be seen from rail, coach, or tarmac walk) and include these images in our travel album.
Travelling by public transport will aid us in complying with the restrictions. It is truly disappointing and disturbing to hear that US travelers are trying to negotiate down prices on B&B's. It's not neighborly to our friends across the pond. Some Brits view us unfavorably already — such insensitive opportunistic behavior is penny wise but pound foolish politically.
Rooting for Resolution
I feel so sorry for the farmers/consumers of those meats in Great Britain/France,
etc. This is their livelihood for themselves and their families. I also
feel saddened to see so many animals destroyed "before their time." I hope
they don't have to mass destroy apparently healthy animals in the coming
weeks. My most recent knowledge of "lambing" season and what may happen
with that is hard to fathom. Just starting off in life and possibly being
destroyed. Hope the heavens may lift this "curse" from these countries.
My kids and I and two friends will be traveling to England May 18-June 3 (our very 1st European or out of continental US trip). We plan to visit mainly in/around London, Paris, but would like to see Stonehenge which is currently closed. Praying that our "dream trip" will be just that and also to let Great Britain recover from this terrible situation.
Gilbert, AZ USA 03/21/01
Bad news today, unfortunately, in that a case has been confirmed in
the Netherlands, and the new cases confirmed in Great Britain rose dramatically.
It does not seem as though the end is in sight anytime soon.
Columbia, SC USA 03/21/01
We had a long-awaited two-week trip planned to England beginning at
the end of May. The highlight of our trip was to be a 9-day walking self-guided
walking trip in the Cotswolds. For the last several weeks I have followed
news on the Internet as we tried to determine what to do about our trip.
Fortunately, we had frequent flyer tickets, so it was possible to re-deposit
the points back in my account. We decided last night to postpone our trip —
same time next year. The woman I have been working with via the Internet
to plan the trip was very understanding and they were very willing to hold
my deposit for next year. We are now planning a shorter trip to Nova Scotia
for May/June. Much as I regret the impact on our family vacation plan, my
heart goes out to the British farmers and others whose lives and finances
are more affected than we can possibly comprehend. We look forward to visiting
England in May 2002 and meanwhile, will hope that this wonderful country
recovers from this terrible tragedy.
Knoxville, TN USA 03/20/01
Good news from the BBC news today: Attractions re-open The head of
the rural task force Michael Meacher told the Commons measures were being
put in place to revitalise rural tourism where safe. He said: "The best
way to help rural business is by encouraging their customers to return as
quickly as possible to the many places where it is safe to do so." As part
of the efforts to bring tourism back to rural areas, he said English Heritage
will re-open 200 of its properties from 1 April and that the National Trust
would open another 150 properties before then. Mr Meacher said local authorities
and the National Park authorities would consider which footpaths could be
re-opened safely, and British Waterways were also re-opening many canals.
Cincinnati, OH USA 03/20/01
I clicked on the website for the "Guardian" newspaper at the end of
the ETBD information on foot and mouth disease and found a great article
dated today, 3-19, called "Do's and Don'ts for Travelers" and deals specifically
with traveling in Britain during the foot and mouth outbreak. It was called
"Do's and Don'ts for Travelers" I'd recommend it to all planning a trip
there soon - I will be traveling the end of this month. Thanks again, ETBD,
for providing such accurate and useful information!
Roseville, CA USA 03/20/01
We just returned last week from 17 days in England/Scotland/Northern
Wales. The outbreak certainly changed the focus of our trip, since we had
planned to do a lot of walking on their wonderful footpaths. Every footpath
we saw was signposted; traffic turnouts ("lay-byes") in Snowdonia were roped
off; we met guards in car parks in Wales, just wanting to make sure we knew
about the restrictions; no walking to Beddgelert's grave. Hadrian's Wall
definitely out of bounds. Speyside Way off-limits. Every farm we saw was
sign-posted. Stonehenge not only roped-off and sign-posted but had four
police guards just to make sure no one sneaked in.
We drove over several disinfection points (tarps on roadways strewn with straw and doused with disinfectant) in our rental car. It is lambing time - horrible to think that the farmers may lose all their new stock, too. I'm appalled to hear that the British government is planning to mount a massive advertising drive to tempt tourists to come back to the countryside - I feel for the tourism industry, but the government is certainly giving mixed signals! If you already planned to visit Great Britain, then by all means do so, but take the restrictions seriously and enjoy the towns and driving around the countryside without getting out of your car.
Eureka, CA USA 03/19/01
The MAFF site is very informative with lists of affected areas (not
just lists of closed tourist attractions). We are a global community and
should behave as such; my heart goes out to the farmers.
Fort Worth, TX USA 03/19/01
I am appalled that the gentleman from Ohio is considering "negotiating
for a lower rate" for B&B accomodation. If the tourist business is down
75% in some of the areas in Britain, this action is totally unwarranted.
There is so much to see and do in Britian that no holiday will be "diminished".
Be creative, be adaptable, be respectful. Save the farm visits and hiking
until your next visit.
Susan from northern BC
I'm another one that purchased airline tickets and made reservations
long before the F&M crisis. I still plan to go with my wife & kids, but
I realize that some sights will be closed. I don't consider it a big deal
as there is still much more to do and see than I can cram into 10 days anyway.
I plan to have a great time! I'll just make some minor changes to my travel
Considering the strain on the UK economy and their tourism industry, I hope none of my fellow "Rick Steves" travelers will try to re-negotitate their reservations. That would be pretty cold. Let's not start a wave of "ugly American" sightings.
Cincinnati, OH USA 03/18/01
Thanks, Lola for the clarification re Hampton Court. To be technical,
I stated that the BBC reported that it was closed, and we all know how sloppy
the media can be! I have yet to find a list of just what individual places
are closed. Now that this site is getting reports from travelers rather
than just from those of us surfing the Web for info, maybe we will learn
more. Interesting that there has been no word from France since the initial
outbreak report last week. I hope this means that they have so far contained
Mary from Oregon
[Editor's note: At this time, it appears the single case discovered in western France was an isolated one and has not spread.]
My sister-in-law and I just returned from the UK on March 8th. During
our stay in Bath, we went to the Cotswold Region and saw many farms with
signs posted. We toured with Mad Max but could only look at Stonehenge from
the interior of the van. Precautions (closed foottrails) make countryside
visits less than adventurous. The cities still have theater, historical
walks, and lots of interest and charm but one of my worries came with our
return to the states.
We were told the disease only lives for six hours on human transport such as shoes, etc. No one in the Houston Intercontinential Airport seemed very concerned when we arrived on our direct flight. I called the USDA to tell them this and learned the danger of contamination can live for five days - not what the citizens of UK were told. If anyone is traveling to England, precautions should be taken before entering cities. The solution according to the usda is dipping shoes in a water/vinegar mixture if you have been near any walking trails or contaminated areas.
I hope our own country deals with this in a more upfront way than British agricultue chose to. By minimizing the initial outbreak, the problem grew rapidly and only is adding to the financial woes of the area. Of course, many of the factors such as air contamination and living in organs can only be cared for with vaccination.
Houston, TX USA 03/18/01
For the super sleuths who want to do a little research here is a good
site : http://www.iah.bbsrc.ac.uk/virus/Picornaviridae/Aphthovirus/fmd.htm
apparently there is an A and O type foot and mouth virus strain - the ones
we have been seeing the most is the ) strain.
Additionally the virus also has been reported in Taiwan, Mongolia and South Africa (where it appears to have been hanging around for quite some time). This is an extremely interesting site and I was really suprised to see how many outbreaks outside the UK have been going on before the UK- the documentation about the Type O virus in South Africa and its origin and spread makes very interesting reading
Denver, CO USA 03/17/01
I think it is a blow to the British economy. I feel for the farmer.
I feel sad that they think they have to destroy so many beautiful animals.
I have faith that Britain will overcome this outbreak. Britian has a long
history of battles well fought. This is just a blitz of another kind.
Lexington, SC USA 03/17/01
If you are seriously considering cancelling or postponing a trip, check
with your carrier. Aer Lingus, for one, is offering refunds or penalty free
re-scheduling on flights to/from UK. This from the press release page of
their website: Any customers who wish to defer, postpone or cancel their
journey to/from the UK will be offered either a re-booking at a later date,
a voucher in lieu of the original ticket or a full refund.
Worcester, MA USA 03/17/01
Mary from Oregon: Hampton Court Palace is NOT closed...the Park is
but the Palace isn't!
I run three hotels in Glencoe the Scottish Highlands - the adverse
publicity is having a small effect on our business but together with local
tourism officials we are encouraging people to travel to the area. During
restrictions we are encouraging adventurous guests to discover the huge
network of quiet single track roads, the lovely coastal fringes and offshore
islands rather than the remoter hills. With plenty of routes suitable for
walking or cycling we have published special information to help guide folks
to these opportunities. The classic car touring routes around the beautiful
glens and coastline are all fine - fishing, paragliding, snowboarding, ski-ing,
cycling, sightseeing cruises are all readily available. The message is "please
come there is still enough to do here to fill a lifetime of holidys"
Scottish Highlands, UK 03/17/01
It is a devastating thing thats happened to many old farming families
and no amount of compensation can replace such a loss. On the other hand
the tourist industry is also being devastated...and they will not be compensated.
That's just my opinion
Fayetteville, AR USA 03/16/01
Called the British Tourist Authority(BTA) in New York yesterday(800-462-2748)
and felt that the "consultant" was trying to gloss over the whole situation.
I particularly asked about Blenheim, Warwick Castle, and Snowdonia and he
insisted that we would have no problem, that "you just can't go on the farms." If I hadn't checked the various web sites and found the Blenheim and Snowdonia
were closed, I wouldn't have started making backup plans. Leaving in early
April for London, Bath, and North Wales. We actually could go to another
county but will modify our plans and save what we miss for next time! (BTW
Harlech Castle in Wales is currently closed)
Mill Creek, WA USA 03/16/01
I'm signed up for the April ETBD tour, and I've been trying to follow
the news about "Foot and Mouth" since this is my first trip to Britain or
Europe. It's sad to hear that several of the places I had wanted to see
have been closed. But the saving grace to all this is knowing that Rick
and the whole ETBD staff will see to it that we have a great time, They
will make any changes to the itinerary should they be needed. From reading
tips from others, we must all remember the motto. "Semper Gumby" Always
Flexible! I'm still looking forward to a great time.
Sherman Oaks, CA USA 03/16/01
Dear Editor: Thank you very much for updating your site with my information.
I am a nurse that works in a large oncology hospital and many of our patients
who are battling cancer, AIDS, lymphoma and leukemia are immunosupressed
and unable to fight viruses and infections. Many of our patients take vacations
overseas and I think it is important for people not in the best of health
to realize that there is always a risk when such a virulent strain of virus
is out there. Although there have been limited cases reported I and many
others worry that over the years the strain has become stronger and may
have mutated to affect humans just as the HIV virus has mutated and adapted
over the years. HIV started from animals and then passed over to man, with
so many of our patients immunosuppressed I would think anyone with illnesses
should be cautious and check with their doctors before going over. As many
animals that have infected so quickly and seriously I would think that it
is not a stretch to worry it could attack a human that is immunosuppressed
and unable to fight viruses very well. I appreciate you giving people the
warning and the option to search out more information. If the disease is
airborn then breathing this may attack someone without them even knowing
how close they are to the virus- even if you save one person from illness
by giving them precautions you have done a tremendous thing for the family
who loves them. I would be less worried about healthy young people being
I have a trip booked for April and have been keeping close watch on
all the necessary sites. I just came across the head vet's recommendations
regarding visiting the countryside. I HIGHLY recommend everyone concerned
visit this page recently added to the MAFF site... http://www.maff.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/fmd/country.pdf
According to this information, all the things I planned on doing look not
only possible, but very likely to happen. The site states flat out that
there is NO RISK TO HUMANS! Happy traveling!
CA USA 03/16/01
Unhappily the British Medical Journal disagrees with the Travel News indicating it cannot be transmitted to humans — there is an article listed below that indicates "foot and mouth" can be transmitted to humans- so proceed with the information available. Here is an excerpt:
"The human consequences Foot and mouth disease is a zoonosis, a disease transmissible to humans, but it crosses the species barrier with difficulty and with little effect. Given the high incidence of the disease in animals, both in the past and in more recent outbreaks worldwide, its occurrence in man is rare so experience of the human infection is limited. The last human case reported in Britain occurred in 1966, during the last epidemic of foot and mouth disease. The circumstances in which it does occur in humans are not well defined, though all reported cases have had close contact with infected animals. There is one report from 1834 of three veterinarians acquiring the disease from deliberately drinking raw milk from infected cows. There is no report of infection from pasteurised milk, and the Food Standards Agency considers that foot and mouth disease has no implications for the human food chain."
You can read the full article online.
[Editor's Note: Thanks to Ms. Meade for this report. Britain's Food Standards Agency reports that the 1966 case cited above is the only known case in the last century. It appears that humans must have extremely close contact with infected animals to be at risk. Undercooked meat and unpasturized milk can carry a variety of diseases and should always be avoided when traveling. Foot-and-mouth cannot survive in high heat; therefore properly cooked food and pasturized milk are considered safe. Having read the British Medical Journal article closely, we still feel that travelers in Great Britain who stay out of prohibited areas are at no risk. Nevertheless, we have amended our article based on this new information.]
Rick has placed an excellent article in his Travel
News. Lots of links to informative websites.
Mary from Oregon
This was to be the last big trip before I went to settlement on my
house (and could never afford to go anywhere ever again!); leaving March
22nd for 3 days in London, 7 days horseback riding on the North Yorkshire
Moors (something I've wanted to do since reading James Herriott's books
as a child) and 9 days visiting friends in Oxfordshire. Well, the horseback
riding has been cancelled and the airline tickets are non-refunable, so
now I have 10 days in London and 9 days in Oxfordshire. I don't know a soul
in London, but I'll still have a great time shopping, pubbing, sightseeing
and horseback riding in Hyde Park! Adopt, adapt and improve, the motto of
the Round Table!
Colton's Point, MD USA 03/15/01
I'm leaving today for a 10 day tour in southern England. With me I
am taking 24 people who've never traveled to England before. So, needless
to say I'm a little concerned about the affects of this "foot and mouth" problem. I'll be happy to provide you with some up-to-date travel information
while I'm on tour. Just send me your email address. My initial reaction
to the news is that we in the USA are getting an inflated view of the effect
on travel... but I'll know for sure tomorrow.
Jacksonville, FL USA 03/15/01
I have read a number of interesting articles on www.thepigsite.com
including the fact that they believe the epidemic started with pig swill
(feed) that was imported and they do not know how much has reached other
places. One of the articles indicates there may be an incubation period
of 4 months as the virus can live in the lymph system for up to 4 month
before it manifests its full potential. With this information it would statistically
appear that you could be looking at August before this settles down.
I read the saddest article in today's (3/14) London Times, about a
farming family who had all of their dairy cattle slaughtered because of
foot and mouth. For the farmers, these cattle were more than just a livelihood,
they were part of the family — the farm had operated with the same stock
lines for over 80 years. The loss of their cattle was emotionally devastating,
and something from which they felt they would never fully recover.
The article really made the impact on England's farmers hit home — and also made me realize that travel inconveniences are, in contrast, not that important. I sympathize with everyone whose trips will be changed by this outbreak, but itineraries still can be changed. Farmers who have lost all of their livestock as a result can not change what has happened.
Columbia, SC USA 03/14/01
Argentina and The United Arab Emirates have also confirmed an outbreak of
foot-and-mouth. The latest news from Europe is that the UN is considering
it a global threat.
The BBC website at www.bbc.co.uk/news also has an article on the effect on tourism.
Personally, if I were planning to visit a countryside B&B that is still open (I understand that only the ones on farms are off limits), I would not want to negotiate a reduced rate just because those folks are so impacted. Call it charity if you will.
I canceled Britain travel plans because two out of three weeks were to be spent hiking, mostly in national parks. If I'd been planning to see mostly cities, I'd still go. Cases of foot-and-mouth have just been confirmed in France, so we will probably run into problems in continental Europe, too. I'm leaving for Germany in 3 weeks; about all I can do is be flexible. I may be spending lots more time in Paris and Prague, and less in the Schwarzwald and Alps, than I had anticipated.
The USDA has suggested that travelers to Britain (and probably now to
the continent) avoid places with domestic animals or wildlife, launder
their clothing just before returning home, clean off their shoes (using
alcohol on the soles), and also avoid visiting farms for five days after
their return to the US. Also, please don't try to smuggle in any sausage
or ham this year!
Mary from Oregon
Web site has the best article that I have seen on the subject
My travel party already booked our airfare, just before this crisis hit. I would not have booked the trip then, if I knew then what I know now. The bottom line appears to be that this crisis will continue to unfold slowly, and may perhaps take many, many weeks to shake out. It certainly appears that rural travel may be a problem. All the National Trust sites are closed.
We have enquired about B&B rates via e-mail. My note, in part, asks "Are your rates firm, or is there room for negotiation? Are there restrictions on travel in your area? Are any of the neighboring attractions closed? Any travel advisories that you can provide would be appreciated." To date we have received one reduced rate, and very little information from them regarding restrictions or problems. No doubt, they are scared to death about losing business. The Guardian article indicates that tourism is down, in some places 75%.
We're going only because we've already got the tickets. Our trip will be diminished. The B&Bs normally boost rates during peak tourist season. I see nothing wrong with asking about a reduced rate. In eight inquiries, I have only had one that expressed irritation with my questions. We have decided to simply go without reservations for the towns outside of London, and attempt to negotiate a better deal when we are there.
I would not wish this outbreak on any country. If you are going you
will certainly enjoy less crowds. But, as I say, don't expect that this
"problem" will be solved soon.
John in Ohio
Columbus, OH USA 03/14/01
My husband and I just booked 11 nights at a London hotel at the end of May for our 25th anniversary, and bought Britrail passes so that we could daytrip out. As soon as we paid for the whole thing, a friend said something about the virus; we began reading about it, and my husband and I sat there looking at each other, contemplating the fact that the first time we sign up for a trip overseas, something like this would come up.
Part of the reason we chose the daytripping concept was to give ourselves the flexibility of adjusting our itinerary as we went; I think this idea will serve us in good stead in view of the current crisis. For the 12 days we'll be there, there is plenty to do in London; I still feel that there will be so much to see and do that all is not lost; for example, I can't picture hoof and mouth disease keeping anyone from going to Stratford, seeing the houses, eating lunch, and seeing the 1:00 matinee of Hamlet.
I'm sure one will be able to go to the major sightseeing towns; the major casualty in this, from our end with how we've structured it, is that we may not get our full money's worth out of the rail pass. We had considered joyriding through Wales; Snowdonia National Park is closed. We can still go to Edinburgh, though. A lot will depend on which National Trust properties are still closed in May; I really did want to see Blenheim, and my husband wanted to see abbey ruins.
One possible upside that I see for us is that, if tourism truly is down
75%, our trip in May will be benefited by the reduction in crowds and
Fortson, GA USA 03/13/01
I am greatly concerned about the impact. My trip is scheduled for 16-24 April. In response to my inquiry sent to the B&B I am reserved at, I received a curt response that "I think your information has been somewhat blurred by MAFF, you are completely free to travel in this country and indeed on foot providing you stick to the roads, be they main or bye roads. We have no restrictions whatsoever in this area or for miles around, I understand it is a small part of Devon that has closed access, but it is still accessible around it. I would suggest it is premature to think about cancelling."
This B&B is just outside of Stratford-upon-Avon — I don't think that is anywhere near Devon but the MAFF-restricted areas are shown all around, coming within 10-15 miles of the B&B. I know they are concerned about losing revenue and indeed, at the time of booking I understood that in the event of cancellation, I would be liable for the entire stay anyway. (That's the last time I agree to that — I was sure nothing would cause change my dream trip.)
My plan had been to spend a day in Stratford and take a day trip to
Stonehenge (which is closed for now), otherwise to travel the countryside.
I may cancel (even if I still have to pay for the B&B) the countryside
and either stay in London or divert to Paris.
San Antonio, TX USA 03/13/01
Despite this outbreak, I'm going to Britain in April, spending time
in Bristol, Brighton, and even in a small country town at a charming B&B.
I'm not letting this outbreak wreck my trip, I've just shrunk my plans,
and I am planning on returning for the "bigger trip" next year.
Prince George, BC Canada 03/12/01
Monday, March 12 update: This weekend has seen the biggest growth in reported Foot and Mouth cases since the breakout began. From just about 100 cases at the end of last week there are now almost 170, and while most of the previous cases have been found in sheep, there are now cases in cattle. Pigs still seem, somehow, to be escaping.
More and more of the countryside is now officially out-of-bounds including all of the Cotswolds. What I mean to say is the countryside in the rural areas: it is still fine to travel by car, train or bus to towns and villages by car, and to walk around in the towns and villages. Just don't go into fields, or next to fields, or on paths, or to farms. Anywhere.
Badminton horse trials are cancelled completely. The government has started to use sealed trucks to take slaughtered animals (140,000 or so have been killed to date) to a rendering plant in Cheshire because they can't burn them quickly enough. The vet in charge of the operation says it is beyond his expectations but the government minister responsible for agriculture says it is under control.
Still plenty of food in the stores. Angling is prohibited. Nobody knows when this will be over, nor how much it will spread.
The vets have a real backlog diagnosing tissue samples, so results are
a few days behind reality. Most people are obeying the requests and law,
but I saw a shot on the news this morning of a man jogging past a sign
at the entrance of a closed trail and going as if the sign wasn't there.
Give us a couple of months (and people obeying rules) and we should be
out of the woods.
Balsall Common, near Coventry, England 03/12/01
I wouldn't be so quick to say there is nothing to worry about in regards
to the mad cow disease. I just lost a sister-in-law to it and she had traveled
in England 15 years ago. Just the right incubation time!
Minneapolis, MN USA 03/10/01
[Editor's Note: Mad Cow Disease, or BSE, is not the same as Foot and Mouth Disease. Mad Cow Disease can be fatal to humans, and Britain did have an outbreak earlier this year. According to a spokesperson for Britain's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, there are no more reported cases of Mad Cow Disease and it is not considered a threat at this time. The current crisis concerns Foot and Mouth Disease, which poses no serious threat to humans. Humans can, however, carry Foot and Mouth on their shoes or car tires if they come in contact with it, which is the reason for the current quarantine.]
As a ETBDer who now lives in England, thanks to Rick's books, I would like to chime in. I live in a semi-rural village in central England, and Hoof and Mouth (called Foot and Mouth here) hasn't really made major changes in my life yet. Supermarkets still have plenty of all kinds of meat, and there is no panic.
The number of farms involved is just over 100 and I think that the comment that this time is much worse already than last time may not be entirely correct. It has spread further but I think a lot of that was the bad luck that at the very beginning a dealer was involved who sold animals all over the country.
Livestock farmers are having a really rough time. They can't have B&B guests, they can't move their animals even to their own fields if they are in an exclusion zone (about 5 miles radius of an outbreak), and those who are allowed to send their animals to slaughter are getting rock-bottom prices because a lot of imported meat has been brought in and there is now a surplus. As well, it takes about 1.5 hours to disinfect a livestock truck after animal delivery, so the costs are passed on.
For tourists, thank goodness this is winter. It seems that controls will slowly come off as the outbreaks diminish. It seems that we are probably close to the peak. Certain sports events, such as certain horse racing, the Crufts dog show, and international rugby events have been postponed for a few weeks...not cancelled. Other racing is still going on. Most city events, including sports, are still on. There are virtually no changes to city and town activity.
What's currently off: certain rural counties have UKP5000 penalties for walking, especially with dogs, on footpaths. Among others are Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, and Shropshire. I do not believe that is true in most of the Cotswolds, although voluntary restrictions are encouraged. If we give the countryside a month or two to recover, we'll be that much better off.
Certain animal-oriented attractions like Safari parks are not opening on schedule. Virtually all canals and towpaths are closed. All National Trust properties except those in urban areas are closed. Most rural English Heritage sites are closed.
My advice, if I were giving advice, would be not to worry if you are travelling to the UK or Ireland in summer or fall. If you are coming before summer, plan to restrict yourself to cities and large towns. If everybody gives the rural areas a breather for a little while all will be okay soon.
Two footnotes: We would not have had this outbreak at all if the animals were vaccinated against it. The vaccine exists. But European countries do not use it because the USA will not accept H&M-vaccinated animals, saying that they are no longer disease-free. Catch 22?
BSE (Mad Cow)? No big deal. British beef is certainly the safest in
Europe. Mad Cow is now having occasional events in Italy, Holland, France
and Germany, but none here. British beef has now got the strictest inspection
and rules of anywhere in the world. (But eat the spring lamb here — it's
near Coventry and Birmingham, England 03/09/01
We just returned a few hours ago from the U.K. While we were discouraged
from walking in the Cotswolds last week by the tourist office in Moreton-in-Marsh,
there was no general ban at that time; the cold, wet weather was more of
Mount Zion, IL USA 03/09/01
Thanks to RW Pawelek below; the Manchester Guardian website has lots
of info. It contains the first article I've seen on the devastating effect
of the foot-and-mouth outbreak on Britain's rural tourist industry. And
while the farmers are at least partially compensated for their slaughtered
livestock, those whose livelihod is tourism aren't getting anything.
Mary from Oregon
Foot and mouth disease is not an eating problem unless you are a cow, sheep, pig, goat or deer — it affects only cloven-hoofed animals. It's a travel problem!
Most of rural Britain is now off limits. These are not scare stories but straight from British government official websites: You can drive through on the main roads but they don't want you to stop, walk around, picnic, hike, etc. It's a 5,000-pound fine if you're caught on a hiking trail.
Even where they can't ban travel, the government strongly discourages any travel to rural areas. All British national parks are closed, including Snowdonia, Dartmoor, the Lakes District, Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors. Latest closure I saw on the BBC website is the Scottish Highlands.
Many large estates (Hampton Court and Bushy Park were two named by the BBC) are closed because of worries about spreading the infection to deer.
Many sporting events have been canceled.
This disease is extremely contagious among hooved animals. It requires
Draconian measures to overcome. The last outbreak, in the 1960's, took
six months to wipe out; this outbreak is already more widespread. The
virus can be spread on your clothing, shoes, car tires, and even via dust
in the air landing on you or your car (if you get within a mile or so
of any infection sites).
Mary from Oregon
For a comprehensive overview of both hoof and mouth and BSE, visit
the British website http://www.guardian.co.uk/footandmouth/.
It's an excellent source for the facts.
Madras, OR USA 03/08/01