The three Rs of the countryside: recreation, reflection and relaxation

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RURAL MATTERS: By Tim Machin of CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England)

What do you like most about the countryside? Your views might be different depending on your age, outlook and where you live and work.

Apart from those that already live in the countryside, visit it at weekends or take their annual holidays in it, a growing number of people are moving out of big towns and cities in a drift back to permanent country living because they want to live the dream. The dream that those of us that already live in the countryside maybe take for granted.

The usual way of asking peoples views is by a survey. Don’t worry, no intrusive questions to answer here or forms to fill in because the work has already been done for us, but if you were asked how you would rank in order of priority Peace and Quiet; Countryside Views; Wildlife; Village Pubs; The Lack of Traffic ( compared to big towns) and countryside food how would you vote?

The clothing retailer A Hume did the survey last year, asking 10,000 people what they liked about the countryside.

See how the answers compare with your views:

Overall, just over half of the people surveyed said they most enjoyed the peace and quiet of the countryside, with countryside views coming in at 45 per cent. Athird of respondents said it’s the wildlife they enjoy.

Young adults in the 18-24 age group perhaps surprisingly valued the peace and quiet even more highly than average at just short of 60 per cent, followed hot on the heels by countryside views at 58 per cent. This group is heavily into socialising and seem to also like to escape to the countryside to enjoy pub and foodie culture with 34 per cent opting for village pubs.

The more mature in the 54-64 age group score the highest for peace and quiet with two thirds ticking that as their main choice and they also score highly in the village pubs and food categories as you might expect. Interestingly, this age group is the most turned on of all the 
respondents by seeking out our wildlife with over 40 per cent saying it was important to them.

If these figures are at all representative of the views of the population as a whole then there is a lot that needs protecting out there.

There are lots of pressures on the countryside; new housing development, changing farming practices; new roads and threats to the viability of our rural businesses through the new business rates scheme and so on.

The results of this survey though show that the countryside is highly valued by a broad cross section of the population as a place for recreation, reflection and 
relaxation as well as the place we know as somewhere we live and work.