BUSINESSES and local people have been left counting the cost of one of the windiest and wettest winters on record.

Tourism, farming and even clubs and societies have been affected by heavy rainfall and winds of up to 70mph which have battered the area and caused losses totalling thousands of pounds.

A Cumbria County Council spokeswoman said the authority is ‘still counting’ the damage caused to roads by severe weather.

Figures from the Met Office reveal last month was the seventh wettest December since records began in 1910.

Westmorland experienced 67 per cent more rainfall than is ‘usual’ for the time of year, with a total of 315.5mm over the month.

Rivers have become swollen and fields across north Lancashire and south Cumbria have been turned into lakes.

“This seems to happen every year now,” said farmer, Paul Barker, of Warton Grange farm, Warton, whose land has become submerged.

“We get so much water running off the crag that it has nowhere to go except on to the fields.

“We’d be slurry spreading at this time of year but obviously we can’t. “We also can’t have animals on there because they’d just churn it up into mud.

“It’s just irritating more than anything!”

And Malcolm Petyt, of the Ramblers’ Association, said the weather had also affected outdoor clubs and activities.

“There are people are still trying to get out and about walking although not as many,” he said.

“But I’ve noticed a lot of people walking on the lanes rather than on footpaths.

“I just hope tourists realise this isn’t typical of the area!”

However, several people have said the rain is ‘not a problem’.

“We actually get more people here on bad weather days,” said Jeanette Edgar, of the Lakeland Arts Trust, which runs Blackwell.

Nigel Wilkinson, managing director of Windermere Lake Cruises admitted the company had lost thousands through cancelled sailings.

“A couple of times over the Christmas and New Year period it was just so windy we had to take the rare action of suspending services,” he said.

“On those days it’s not particularly nice to be out and about in the area and that’s put off visitors I think.”

And Ian Stephens, Cumbria Tourism’s managing director, said visitors enjoy the Lake District ‘whatever the weather’.

“We urge visitors to avoid the weather forecast,” he said.