Who’d live in the ‘sexist’ Yorkshire Dales? There’s not even a Waitrose

The Yorkshire Dales. Not a Waitrose in sight.
The Yorkshire Dales. Not a Waitrose in sight.
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Swapping the city for the countryside is typically thought of as a liberating experience, one where skyscraper views are replaced by vistas of lush fields and rolling hills, and the hectic urban hustle and bustle is left behind.

But such a dramatic change of scene inevitably comes with challenges for individuals who are used to a very different way of life, and, just as with the city, living in the countryside is not for everyone.

Liz Jones

Liz Jones

After moving from her Georgian townhouse in Islington, North London to the Yorkshire Dales, journalist Liz Jones has enjoyed a less than idyllic life and wrote scathingly about settling in the Dales today.

Writing for The Mail on Sunday, Ms Jones claimed: “The countryside is so difficult that to survive it you need a family, a husband, pots of money, and high stone walls.

“There is this idea that we need to preserve a rural way of life, that it’s our heritage, a refuge: instead, it’s a throwback, it’s sexist and cruel.”

The writer, who once appeared as a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother and whose articles about her own love life have often stirred controversy, complained of living a lonely existence in the Dales where she can go for weeks “without talking to a soul”.

She also used her column to write about being in a bad mood after having stepped over dead rabbits and hedgehogs. She said she had walked past 13 sheep “so lame they can’t walk” and a barn of beef cattle which had been “kept in all summer standing on their own faeces”.

She added: “It’s interesting the BBC’s latest slow television hit, All Aboard! The Country Bus - which follows my route home from Richmond to Hawes - fails to show farmers shooting any dog with the temerity to traverse their fields.

“They’d have more room to run around if I lived in Hampstead,” she wrote.

Ms Jones, 58, also claimed that drivers in the countryside “like to speed at 100mph in the middle of the road”, resulting in the wing mirror of her car being repeatedly ripped off.

“Don’t get me started on food in the country,” she wrote, as she went on to bemoan the Co-op in Richmond not stocking tofu, of nowhere to buy decent shower gel, the absence of a Waitrose, slow broadband, no mobile signal, no mains water and cyclists going past her front gate travelling at 30mph.

“The hairdresser doesn’t even have an answerphone,” she wrote.

“The one decent baker 15 miles away shuts at 5pm. If you stop in the middle of the road to pick up a hedgehog, you get verbal abuse.”

Many readers of the online version of the article took exception to Ms Jones’ views.

One wrote: “I lived in a remote North Yorkshire village for some 21 years after leaving the suburbs. I learned a lot. Town people have become so isolated from the reality of cycle of animal life & death, with TV drama stereotypes in their heads.

“It’s a good life but it’s not for all city dwellers who tend to see an edited version of country life through a 46-inch flat screen on the wall.”

Aeryn Sun, of Cumbria, posted: “I live not a million miles away from Hawes and I don’t recognise this hell she describes.”

And another reader wrote: “It all depends who you are when living in the countryside, some people are able to live there quite happily while others simply do not fit as they want all the facilities and the amenities found in the towns and cities right on their doorstep. It just doesn’t work.”

Ms Jones wrote that despite Richmond MP Rishi Sunak’s “promise to make the Dales a kind of northern Silicon Valley”, it takes her longer to load and send her column than it does to write it because the broadband is so slow.

Mr Sunak told The Yorkshire Post: “We do need better broadband and mobile coverage, that’s why it is my top priority and I am fighting hard for it in parliament.”

He added: “I am privileged to represent the most beautiful constituency in the country. The only thing that matches the beauty of the landscape here is the friendliness of the people, the strength of community and our justified pride in this very special part of England.”