Summertime Blues

AS torrential rain heads our way once again it looks like 2012 could be the worst since the infamous summer of 1985. Tourism is affected and farmers are counting the cost of not being able to harvest crops.

Met Office statistics reveal that June was the wettest month in Dumfries and Galloway since records began in 1910, with more than 200 millimetres of rain falling.

The unseasonal weather is affecting two of the region’s most important industries: tourism and farming.

Up at Glentrool Holiday Park, Michael Moore said trade for June had been “horrendous”.

He added: “It’s just been a nightmare. Thanks goodness for the Queen’s Jubilee at the start of the month, when we had a few people who seemed to want to get away from it. So that was a slight bonus.

“I’ve been here 10 years now and we had a really good March and April but June has just been horrendous. The only good thing is this weather seems to have killed off all the midges.”

Steve Donnan, owner of the Creebridge House Hotel in Newton Stewart, added: “Holiday bookings are definitely down on last year but thankfully we haven’t been so too badly affected as we have had more business bookings and we have been very busy lately with four weddings. But casual meal bookings are down and I would put that down to the weather. I can see why folk are moaning.”

But Marshall Swallwell, from Auchenlarie Holiday Park, at Gatehouse was optimistic. He said: “We are fully booked until the middle of September. But we have indoor facilities here. Passing tourists are very thin on the ground, though, and they are a very important part of the trade. But from an accommodation point of view we haven’t been too badly affected by the weather.

“Mind you, it would be much better and we’d all be a lot happier if the sun was shining.”

A spokesman for VisitScotland said: “The current conditions are obviously far from ideal, but visitor numbers do not appear to have been adversely affected. Our research shows that people do not necessarily come to the region for its weather, but for the range of fantastic things to see and do, many of which can be enjoyed come rain or shine.”

On the other hand, farming is totally reliant on the weather and a dry spell at this time of year is crucial for getting the silage cut to feed stock through the winter and cash crops sprayed to keep weeds under control.

Bob Templeton, who farms at Carslae between Newton Stewart and Wigtown, was cursing the weather. He said: “It’s been b***** awful. It’s just the same as it was in 1985 and then the rain went on until the end of August! We can’t get on with the silage and we can’t get the crops sprayed. We can’t even get onto the land because the fields are so wet.

“Even if we could cut the grass it would have too much effluent in, contaminated due to the weather. Some farmers can’t even get their sheep sheared.”

John Cannon, from Clauchrie near Wigtown, was one. He said: “Although I have most of the sheep clipped there is still one lot that I can’t get done because it’s too wet.

“But the crops are suffering – that’s the biggest problem. It looks like well just have to go for one cut of silage instead of two. The ground is just poached.”

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