I’ve previously bought into the concept that these operations are good for preserving the nation’s valuable sites. They charge a fee, you get in, they allocate the spend to maintenance.
After paying close to £10 to wander around Whitby Abbey a few weeks back, I began to question my belief systems. It’s an impressively located ruin high above the seaside town. But I got the impression that it didn’t really need an entry fee to maintain it. It felt like I was effectively paying a tenner to cover the cost of running a shop which didn’t even provide toilet facilities. They went hard sell on an annual membership though.
Stonehenge is an interesting one too. £15 allowed us to park up, hop on the bus and see some old rocks. I loved it. And when I’d seen it as a child it had graffiti on some of the stones.
So I’m thinking I’m paying a jot not insubstantial sum for some basic security to protect the sites and a bus relay service because they didn’t fancy putting the car park closer. I loved the place but couldn’t escape the fact you get the best view for free from the A303!
Ahead of my trip to the top bit of the Emerald Isle I’ve researched the Giants Causeway. £10.50 to get into the National Trust visitor centre. Public right of way to get down to the hexagonal stones themselves – free – or £1 if you pay Danny Boy to hop on his Land Rover. So what am I paying over ten quid for? I can walk around it!
I will probably apply a little more thought to the cost of paying to go into a shop to buy fridge magnets and whether or not this money is used charitably to protect our national treasures. Maybe I’ve got it wrong.
But if you end up paying £10-£15 to help Lord Richbloke avoid inheritance tax so that his family can carry on living in a stately home while a few visitors pay to admire the gardens and a few downstairs rooms that are too expensive to heat, well it doesn’t seem quite right.
Maybe I’ve just woken up extra cynical this morning.