Countryfile Live at Castle Howard suffers traffic headache on opening day

Severe traffic delays effected the opening day of the BBC's Countryfile Live event at Castle Howard today, as an estimated 15,000 people attended the show's northern debut.

Full report - Countryfile Live makes northern debut at Castle Howard

Countryfile presenters John Craven, Charlotte Smith, Tom Heap, Ellie Harrison, Anita Rani, Adam Henson and Matt Baker open the four-day Countryfile Live event at Castle Howard. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Countryfile presenters John Craven, Charlotte Smith, Tom Heap, Ellie Harrison, Anita Rani, Adam Henson and Matt Baker open the four-day Countryfile Live event at Castle Howard. Picture by Tony Johnson.

The volume of first day visitors slightly exceeded expectations, said the event's director Tim Etchells, and the result was long queues of traffic as some motorists’ journeys took an hour or more than planned to get parked up in the grounds of the stately home.

The event continues until Sunday, featuring appearances from seven members of Countryfile's presenting team, including Yorkshire-born John Craven and Anita Rani.

Mr Etchells, who has brought the event to Yorkshire for the first time after overseeing its four years at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, promised his team would learn from the traffic problems.

“We have spent a huge amount of time planning the traffic management. It’s a particularly difficult site to work in and we knew that.

"We deliberately opened to the public at 8.30am and the car park opens at 7am, it’s the same every day. Unfortunately, quite a lot of people came later than that. We will sit down with Highways and see what we can do.”

Mr Etchells added: “Our advice is, follow our signposted route. It may take longer, but you will get there quicker.

“We are sorry people’s day out started with a delay but we will work hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again and we hope when they got here they had a great day out.”

The spectacle at Castle Howard is the realisation of a long-held ambition for the event's boss.

More than 400,000 visitors have passed through the gates at Countryfile Live during its run at its original setting, Blenheim Palace, but Tim Etchells said he always intended to find a second home for a show which celebrates the BBC’s flagship rural affairs programme.

“The first year (at Blenheim), we had people from every postcode in England, but as time progresses from less of them, so we have been looking around for a new location for a few years,” he said.

Bolton Abbey was also scrutinised as a possible location for the show in Yorkshire but Castle Howard made more sense, Mr Etchellls said.

“I love it here and what’s great about it is you have that stunning house as the backdrop - that’s special.”

He said he expected up to 55,000 visitors over the event's four-day run in Yorkshire.