THE people of Hawes are hoping national park chiefs will throw their businesses a lifeline next week.

With headlines declaring the countryside closed, tourists have presumed the same applies to rural towns and trade has dried in the village in the heart of Wensleydale.

Shops remain open, even though the streets are deserted.

But others are puzzled by the decision to lock the doors at the town's Tourist Information Centre and The Dales Countryside Museum.

They say the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority should reconsider, opening both to encourage visitors to make the most of the town, now struggling to survive as much as the farmers on the front line.

"Everyone sympathises with the farmers and it would be irresponsible to encourage people to take to the countryside - but there are town walks in Hawes which are pretty and the shops, cafes, pubs and hotels are still here,'' said chairman of the Upper Wensleydale Business and Tourism Association, Kate Empsall.

"The Tourist Information office could help pass on details if it was open; the museum would be one more place to visit," she added.

Park chiefs reconsider the position on Monday but Ruth Annison of the famous Ropemakers in Hawes agreed.

The company, which could lose a £2,000 dog leash deal if Crufts is called off this year, is using the hiatus in trade for "'rescue and recovery" work.

But it is not standing still either, pioneering a new guide for the town to be distributed to tourists.

"We cannot afford to do nothing. If traders make an effort now on those jobs they've been putting off for months, at least we could all look our best when this is all over," she said.