The Latest

08 March 2023

Landing access to Farnes to be restricted

Landing access to the Farne Islands to be restricted in efforts to protect precious seabird colonies   The National Trust has announced that visitors won’t be able to land on the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, at the start of the 2023 season due to fears that Avian Influenza (bird flu) will rip through the seabird colonies once more.   Last year, while the islands were off limits to wildlife enthusiasts, rangers contributed to national monitoring and research into the impacts of bird flu on the breeding populations and removed over 6,000 carcasses of birds killed by the virus. Seabirds including the Guillemot and Kittiwake were impacted the most, with 3,542 and 818 respectively, thought to have perished due to the disease. These numbers are thought to be just the tip of the iceberg as many dead birds in the densely packed cliff colonies will have fallen into the sea.   With the virus persisting in the environment and now impacting wintering birds on both the Islands and mainland UK, the conservation charity believes it is prudent to restrict access to visitors seeking to land on Inner Farne and Staple islands. Sail around tours of the islands offered by local boat operators will continue to run.  The decision has been taken ahead of the main breeding season which will see species such as puffins, guillemots, and arctic terns returning to nest.   National Trust rangers will continue to manage vegetation and improve nesting habitat on the islands to ensure the birds have the best opportunity to breed successfully. They will also monitor the various bird species to understand how many have retuned, the numbers of breeding pairs and how many chicks fledge.   While visitors are unable to land the Islands, local boat companies continue to offer a range of sail around tours for visitors to experience the magical nature and marine life around the Farne Islands.    Billy Shiel Farne Islands Boats trips is a family business which has been operating trips to the Farne Islands and Holy Island since 1918. The company offer a range of tours and cruises, including a 2-hour Puffin Seabird cruise, and 1.5-hour Grey Seal cruise, as well as a diving and snorkelling trips for those who are a little more adventurous.   Serenity Farne Islands boat tours, based in Seahouses will be operating a variety of tours to accommodate visitors who wish to see the spectacular wildlife of the Farne Islands from the seaward side. These trips will include longer sailings for photographers as well as our regular cruises around the Farne Islands.   For more information, visit
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16 February 2023

The Last Kingdom exhibition comes home

Fans of the hit Netflix series The Last Kingdom will be able to get up close to costumes and props worn by actors in the sword-wielding saga in an exhibition at Bamburgh Castle - the original fortress of Bebbanburg in Northumberland. The exhibition includes costumes worn by Alexander Dreymon who plays Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Thea Sofie Loch Næss who starred as Skade, Ola Rapace who played Viking warrior Bloodhair, and Cavan Clerkin who played warrior-priest Father Pyrlig. The Last Kingdom is produced by leading drama specialists Carnival Films, whose shows include television and film sensation Downton Abbey. Nigel Marchant, Producer, Carnival Films said: “It’s truly wonderful that Bamburgh Castle are putting on this exhibition and giving the show’s loyal fans and members of the public the chance to step into the real Last Kingdom. The props and costumes are such an integral part of the series, it seems only right they get to stand proudly on display at Uhtred’s ancestral home of Bebbanburg.” Karen Larkin, visitor services manager at Bamburgh Castle, said: “Fans of The Last Kingdom will be able to see for themselves that Uhtred’s sword has returned to Bebbanburg as he said it would! “The exhibition includes a bespoke selection of key props and costumes from the series. It’s located in the Castle’s King’s Hall on the very footprint of Bebbanburg’s medieval banqueting hall – our Valhalla – where the real Uhtred could have feasted. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!” “Even if you haven’t watched the series, the exhibition will bring to life characters based on Bamburgh’s epic past as capital of the kingdom of Northumbria and the kings and queens of its Golden Age.” News of the exhibition comes as Carnival Films announced the release date for the feature-length movie – Seven Kings Must Die – on April 14th on Netflix. The Last Kingdom at Bebbanburg exhibition opens on Saturday February 18th when the Castle reopens daily to visitors from 10am until 5.00pm (last admission 4.00pm). To mark the launch of the exhibition, Follow in the Footsteps of Uhtred tours will be taking place at the Castle on Saturdays throughout February and March. Included with general admission, tours will be led by Ragnar the Viking aka Robert Jones who’ll be comparing the real history of Uhtred with the fictional version. And to crown it all, you’ll even get the chance to become Queen or King of the North and be photographed sitting in the Wessex Throne. Entry into the exhibition and Follow in the Footsteps of Uhtred tours is included with general admission (adults £15.50 / children £7.65. Under-fives free. Family tickets £41.00). Tickets are available on the gate or at
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14 February 2023

Vote for Northumberland Ranger

Run in partnership with the Mirror newspaper, VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar recognises and celebrates those in the industry who go the extra mile to ensure tourists in England have an amazing and unforgettable visitor experience. After making the shortlist, the vote is over to the public, and we want to encourage everyone to vote for Ranger Jane.    Ranger Jane was shortlisted for her passion for Northumberland, her sustainable and educational approach to the fantastic tourism product that she offers, and her extraordinary story that led her to start her own business.   Andrew Fox, chair of Visit Northumberland, said, “Ranger Jane is an exemplary example of the fantastic people driving the tourism industry in Northumberland. Her passion for Northumberland’s coast and wildlife, along with her sustainable approach to everything she does, provides visitors with a fun and engaging experience and educates them on how to care for Northumberland’s landscape.   “To be nominated as England’s next Tourism Superstar is a monumental achievement for Jane and recognition of Northumberland’s growing reputation as a responsible tourism destination. It demonstrates the endless experiences and first-class welcome people can expect when they visit.”   Following over ten years' service as a National Trust Ranger, Jane recognised the need to educate visitors to Northumberland’s coast, particularly after the COVID pandemic saw a surge in visitors. Since opening for bookings in May 2022, Jane delivering over 100 guided 'Seashore Safari' experiences before the end of the 2022 season.    Ranger Jane’s Beach School offers a range of tours and activities along the protected landscape of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. During her Seashore Safaris, guests carefully explore the rocky shore learning how to find creatures in their natural habitat with minimum disturbance. Jane’s primary tour objective is to connect her guests with nature and bring compassion and respect for the secret world of the rockpools.  In summing up her nomination, Jane commented, “My passion for rock pooling began with a lost wooden fish box at the age of five in 1975 when I came on family holidays to Low Newton and Embleton on the Northumberland coast. I love sharing my passion for the coastal environment on my safaris, and am humbled to have been nominated by Visit Northumberland and recognised and supported by a number of local holiday cottage owners.”   Jane’s Seashore Safari activities are a 90-minute guided experience at north beach in Seahouses for up to eight people in a group. To vote for Jane and help her take home the gold and win the title of England’s Tourism Superstar 2023, visit The ballot closes at midnight on March 20 with winner set to be announced on March 25.  
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06 October 2022

Storm Arwen Recovery Update

On 26 November 2021, the north of England experienced significant northerly winds leading to storm damage which affected trees, buildings and other infrastructure. Storm Malik and Storm Corrie over weekend 29th/30th January 2022 and Storm Dudley on 16th February has led to more trees falling over and slowing down the recovery process. As we head towards 12 months since storm Arwen, Forestry England are pleased to report good progress on storm recovery work across Northumberland’s forests. They are still planning and implementing the safe and prompt removal of windblown trees across our forests and multiple sites, including our trails. The safe removal of windblown trees is a complex operation, requiring planning, machinery, and skilled operators and now we are getting into the more complex sites which takes longer. Storm damaged trees in many areas are still unstable and dangerous. They need to make trees safe, within two tree-lengths of all our trails. Unfortunately, this means some facilities remain closed. Kielder Forest   Information on routes available to walk or cycle are available on the Visit Kielder website: Forestry England continue to ask that everyone stays on the main forest roads and tracks and always adhere to all information/ warning signs and barriers. Kielder is now in a really great place for waymarked access trails, and the tabular information to only show affected formal waymarked trails. Since the last update Forestry England are pleased to share Holystone Forest, picnic site, car park and forest walk are now included in the updates. If the facility or forest is not on the list = open for access fully open. Forestry England are working to reopen Simonside in time for October half-term holiday week at present as the next key site for Northumberland forests. We thank you for your patience and co-operation.
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16 September 2022

Discover public artwork at Hadrian's Wall 1900 Festival

As part of Hadrian’s Wall 1900 Festival a contemporary large scale public artwork that celebrates 1900 years of this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site APERTURA by Ed Carter, Nicky Kirk and Tony Broomhead is an interactive sonic sculpture set in the picturesque setting of Northumberland National Park's, Walltown Country Park. After months of development this unique installation is being described by organisers as an evocative intervention in the landscape. Until early October visitors can experience a sound sculpture made up of 1900 copper wind chimes that creates an evolving soundscape the everchanging breeze. Inspired by the World Heritage Site and the stunning landscapes of Northumberland National Park, APERTURA frames, and provides a new viewpoint to this section of Hadrian’s Wall, inviting audiences to experience a constantly evolving, interactive spectacle of shimmering light and sound. The free to attend artwork funded by North of Tyne Combined Authority will encourage people to come together in a shared physical space in order to engage, celebrate and listen. At the heart of the project is the opportunity to engage with local, regional, national, and international audiences, opening conversations about Hadrian’s Wall as an inspiring cultural bridge, rather than a static geographical border. As part of the project the team is engaging with local communities to contribute to the artwork by designing their own sails, which will be added to each wind chime, and bring the piece to life” APERTURA is being delivered by a team led by Gateshead based artist Ed Carter who has been collaborating with Nicky Kirk and Tony Broomhead for over 20 years. As individuals and working collaboratively the team have delivered a number of high profile artistic, architectural and temporary projects locally, in the UK and internationally. At the end of the installation period, the temporary suspended chimes will be given to local schools and community groups as sets of wind chimes, to ensure the underlying concept creates a legacy that remains in the local communities of Hadrian's Wall Jane, Lady Gibson, Chair of Hadrian’s Wall Partnership said: “APERTURA is an artwork that interprets this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site within a contemporary context, the location providing a monumental platform to shape a cultural dialogue about togetherness, dialogue, and commonality. We can't wait to invite visitors from around the world to come and celebrate this special event” Ed Carter said: The history of Walltown Country Park provides the ideal context in which to explore the ideas behind this piece of work. The quarrying work has left a large opening in a central section of Hadrian’s Wall, offering a tangible analogy for the notion that “openings mediate between the worlds separated by architectural barriers” (Rudolph Arnheim).” Individuals, groups, venues and organisations along the length of the wall are being encouraged to get involved and be part of this incredible year by visiting and submitting their own activities to the programme! The HW1900 Festival programme to date is available to view at  The North of Tyne Combined Authority is a partnership of three local authorities: Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Council, and Northumberland County Council and the North of Tyne Elected Mayor.
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01 July 2022

Farne Islands Closure

Farne Islands to close to visitors due to impact of Avian Influenza on internationally important seabird colonies: · Bird flu now impacting seabirds including Guillemots, Terns and Puffins · Hopes that island closure will help limit spread of the disease and any risks to people · Conservation charity calls on Government to act to do more to protect important seabird colonies · Boat tours are set to continue with visitors able to sail around the islands The National Trust has announced it will be closing the Farne Islands[1], off the coast of Northumberland in the North Sea to visitors, from Sunday 3 July, due to the impact of the spread of Avian Influenza (bird flu), on its precious seabird colonies. The disease which was first discovered in UK domestic bird populations last winter, is now impacting wild birds, with infection proving to be fatal. It is spread when birds come into direct contact with an infected bird, faeces, body fluids or indirectly via food and water. The risk to people is considered to be very low and people are rarely affected. Symptoms are similar to normal flu, with a runny nose, sore throat and fever. Simon Lee, General Manager for the Farne Islands said: “While we have no confirmed test results from the islands, we are now starting to see the terribly sad and distressing impact of Avian Influenza on our internationally important and threatened seabirds who make the islands their home. “Seabirds nesting in dense colonies, most of which are threatened, such as Arctic Terns, are particularly vulnerable now as they have returned to the islands in their thousands to breed, nesting in close proximity to each other. “Our ranger teams work tirelessly to monitor and protect these colonies, but due to finding significant numbers of dead birds, we simply have no other choice but to close the islands. “We understand how many people love to visit the islands, but we must do everything we can to protect and to try to help these much-loved seabirds by limiting the spread of the disease. “The effect of the disease on the colonies we care for could be devastating due to many species having low reproduction rates, which means the loss of adult birds has a huge impact on populations being able to recover. Mr Lee continued: “Many of the birds which nest here, such as the vulnerable Atlantic Puffin[2], are already experiencing huge pressures due to climate change with warming sea temperatures impacting food stocks. “By closing the islands we will reduce the risk of disturbance on the birds, which will hopefully help at least slow down the spread of the disease during this breeding period before they leave the islands in late summer to continue their annual migratory cycle. The Farne Islands, a National Nature Reserve, are home to approximately 200,000 seabirds including Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Razorbills and Shags in addition to Arctic Terns and Puffins. Several hundred dead birds have so far been found with these deaths reported to Defra. Ben McCarthy, Head of Nature Conservation and Restoration Ecology at the National Trust, added: “We are committed to working with Government agencies including the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to protect our wild birds, and we are also working alongside other organisations including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). “However, time is of the essence. We desperately need Government to do more to recognise the impact on our wild bird populations and to take more effective action, including a National Response Plan that includes practical steps to support our conservation teams, surveillance and monitoring of spread in wild bird populations, research into ways of slowing its spread, and clear biosecurity measures.” The Ranger team will remain on the islands to continue to monitor the birds while the islands are closed to visitors. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has advised that the risk to the general public's health is very low, but people should not touch sick or dead birds. If found, please report any dead birds to Defra on 0345 9335577.
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21 January 2022

The Story of the Bamburgh Bones

A new beautifully illustrated book, telling the story of the creation of the Bamburgh Ossuary along with tales of Anglo-Saxon ancestors, a study of St. Aidan the man and the church, and the fascinating archaeology of Bamburgh - is out now. The book ‘Accessing Aidan, the story of the Bamburgh Ossuary’ explores a series of fascinating stories of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors as well as the remarkable circumstance and characters that resulted in the Bamburgh Ossuary. The publication of the book was made possible through the generous support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, as part of the wider ‘Accessing Aidan’ project to showcase and share the heritage of Bamburgh to new audiences in innovative ways. The book covers the creation of a brand-new ossuary in the crypt of St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh for over 100 Anglo-Saxon skeletons, originally excavated from the sand dunes to the south of Bamburgh Castle.  Contributors - archaeologists Graeme Young and Jessica Turner, the osteologist Professor Charlotte Roberts, author John Connell, and architect Robert McKibbin - come together to tell a remarkable story of St Aidan and his Anglo-Saxon congregation. There is an in-depth exploration of the amazing evidence of their lives that their bones tell us making some of the remarkable research available for the first time. The book explores the life and work of the gentle saintly Aidan as well as the fabric of the church dedicated to him that holds the ossuary.  This fabulous book, with wonderful illustrations and photographs, is also a celebration of the present-day community that created the ossuary so that everybody can access the story of Aidan. Jessica Turner said: “This book is a brilliant conclusion to the Accessing Aidan project and years of hard work by so many people. I really hope that the amazing, varied contributions appeal to a wide audience; there really is something for everybody in this book”.  David Renwick, Director of England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “It is fantastic news that thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to support the publication of ‘Accessing Aidan, the story of the Bamburgh Ossuary’. This wonderful new book will ensure that these amazing stories are preserved for years to come, meaning that local communities and visitors can learn more about Bamburgh’s rich heritage”. The book is available online from the Bamburgh Bones website: priced £10. It is also available at St Aidan’s Church in Bamburgh and Bamburgh Castle.
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30 November 2021

Public asked to stay away from storm hit forests.

Forestry England is urging people to stay away from its woods in much of northern England in the aftermath of storm Arwen. A huge swath of the nation’s forests including Thrunton Woods, Kidland, Harbottle and Simonside near Rothbury, Kielder, Hamsterley and Chopwell, plus Grizedale Forest and Gisburn in the north west, have been badly affected by uprooted trees, loose branches, downed power lines and blocked access. Teams are working quickly, but above all safely, prioritising people who live in the forests by restoring access and helping restore power, emergency access and other services. Kevin May, Forest Management Director for North England said:  “This was a very significant storm and it’s caused a lot of damage.  Our immediate concern is for people who live and work in the forest and we are working intensively to restore some kind of normality.  Many of our woodlands will still be dangerous and are simply not safe for visitors at the moment.  There is also the risk from hanging trees – those that have been blown over, but have been caught on other trees. These can fall with little or no warning. Our message is to stay clear for the time-being and that will speed the recovery.  Our website,, will be kept up to date with the latest information.” Over the next few days Forestry England will carry out an aerial survey of its 90,000 hectares (222,000 acres) of land in northern England to assess Arwen’s impact and map the worst affected areas.  Kielder alone covers 63,000 hectares (155,000 acres) and is the nation’s largest forest. In some areas harvesting machines are being used to clear trees from highways.  Forestry England staff have also been checking on residents who live in remote areas and providing assistance where required. Once woodlands are made safe, a major clear up operation will begin and a full assessment of the damage made.  This is likely to take some months.  Plans will then be drawn up for long-term recovery to ensure the region’s forests continue to flourish for people, wildlife and the economy.
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12 August 2021

Hadrian's Wall 1900

A spectacular year of events and activities will see Hadrian’s Wall come alive with culture, heritage and art. Hadrian’s Wall Partnership, which is co-ordinating a year-long festival celebrating Hadrian’s Wall 1900th anniversary in 2022, is thrilled to announce they have been awarded pivotal funding from North of Tyne Combined Authority.  Hadrian’s Wall 1900 Festival will mark the 1900th anniversary of the commencement of the building of Hadrian’s Wall. Organisations, communities, and individuals are planning to celebrate this unique anniversary in a myriad of different ways across 2022 in a packed programme that will include everything from community events to high profile arts commissions.   Jane, Lady Gibson, Chair of Hadrian’s Wall Partnership, said “This funding means that we can now formalise our delivery team and start planning for a truly remarkable festival in 2022”  Hadrian’s Wall 1900 Festival is a huge opportunity to unleash the recognised economic potential of Hadrian’s Wall’s cultural and heritage capital, and to build back stronger after Covid-19. She went on to say “Although this funding is hugely significant we still have a long way to go and we cannot stress enough how important it is that individuals, groups, venues and organisations along the length of the wall get involved so they can enjoy a spectacular festival in 2022 “ From Hadrian’s birthday on 24th January to Saturnalia on 23rd December 2022, the year-long Festival, will bring communities and visitors closer to the people that have lived and worked along the Wall from pre-Roman times to the present day.  Anyone interested in creating an activity or event which could become part of the year-long festival is invited to register on their website.Over 100 ideas have already been received.   This is an exciting opportunity to really deliver something unique and be part of a once in a lifetime festival! Hadrian’s Wall 1900 festival will provide opportunities for everyone to celebrate and find their connection to the Wall whether it be Roman history, dark skies, the natural environment, cultural diversity, food, music, the arts and more. Ultimately the festival will celebrate 1900 years of this incredible World Heritage Site. By connecting people and places through time and bringing to life the culture and experiences of local people living and working along the Wall this festival will deliver something that will stand the test of time, just like the Wall itself!  The festival will build the reputation and profile of this much-loved World Heritage Site as a varied, high quality 21st century visitor destination, and as a significant element in the transnational Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site which includes which includes the Antonine Wall in Scotland and the roman defences across Europe from the Dutch coast to the mouth of the Danube. The funding from North of Tyne will ensue that the Hadrian’s Wall Partnership can develop the festival’s co-ordination team to ensure as many people as possible can support, take part in, and engage with this incredible anniversary.  Cllr Glen Sanderson North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Culture, Creative and Rural and Leader of Northumberland County Council said: “This unique festival will give communities and visitors something to look forward to in 2022. Hadrian’s Wall is known throughout the world and celebrating its 1900th anniversary is a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase our region and tell our story.    “This is important funding, it will boost our businesses, economy and tourism helping ensure a strong recovery from the pandemic.”  
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24 June 2021

The World’s Original Marmalade Awards at Dalemain 20th June 2021

Local preserves producers, Sandy Higson, The Mad Jam Woman have (once again) found success at the World Artisan Marmalade Awards, receiving a gold award for their Lemon & Ginger with Chilli Marmalade, & four silver awards for Lemon & Cointreau, Seville & Cranberry, Orange & Carrot & Bucks Fizz Marmalades proving them to be some of the best in the world!   A firm favourite, these preserves are particularly loved for their Flavour, Clarity & versatility and clearly the judges agreed! They were very impressed with the marmalade’s appearance, colour, consistency, aroma and flavour.   Despite the pandemic and multiple UK lockdowns, the Marmalade Awards received a record-breaking number of entries this year, with over 3,000 jars from more than 30 countries worldwide including Japan, Canada, Australia, Kuwait and the Dominican Republic. The Artisan Awards are judged by an expert panel including food writer Dan Lepard and Fortnum & Mason Grocery Buyer Sarah Metcalf, and this accolade denotes a marmalade of exceptional quality.     Founder of the Awards Jane Hasell-McCosh says: ‘We have always been so proud to champion quality artisan producers, and this year it has been more important than ever. Small businesses have been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic, but I think it has made people realise how vital good, local food is, and I hope that The Mad Jam Woman will have huge success with her marmalade both locally and further afield. The quality of artisan marmalade has never been higher, and I am so proud of our Award winners this year.’   Due to continuing restrictions, the Awards were not announced in March as usual, and instead the winners were celebrated as part of the annual Plant Fair at Dalemain in June. Marmalade enthusiasts flocked to Dalemain to taste preserves from all over the world, see the winners announced and take part in ‘Marmalade Question Times’ with the experts.   Owner and artisan marmalade maker Sandy Higson says ‘I am so pleased to have won these awards against such strong competition from all over the world. I have been making my marmalade for (26) years and have always thought that it is some of the best marmalade we’ve ever tasted, so it’s nice to have the Awards to prove it!’   As well as online, The Mad Jam Woman’s marmalades etc can also be purchased at _Alnwick market every Saturday & many Local Shops. For the full list of Artisan Marmalade Awards, visit:   The Awards are sponsored by Fortnum & Mason and Rathbones and are proud to raise money for palliative care around the world. This year’s key beneficiary is once again Hospice at Home Carlisle & North Lakeland, and to date the Awards have raised over £270,000 for palliative care around the world.   For more information about the Marmalade Awards visit  
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16 April 2021

Tourism bosses welcome new era in astrotourism

NEW branding to promote one of the finest Dark Sky Parks in the country will hopefully lead to thousands more visitors heading to the North East once the pandemic is over. The new logo was designed by Drummond Central for Northumberland’s International Dark Sky, Park, one of the first in the country and still Europe’s largest Gold Tier Dark Sky Park. It reflects ambitions to develop a new era in astrotourism and capitalise on Northumberland’s first Dark Sky Festival. Tourism bosses said they were looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Northumberland and building on pre-pandemic figures, which showed that dark skies tourism was worth more than £25m per year to the county, generating around 450 jobs. Maureen McAllister, acting director of visitor economy at Visit Northumberland, said: “Dark sky tourism continues to play an integral role in Northumberland’s tourism strategy. It’s been fantastic to see businesses collaborating to successfully deliver the first Northumberland Dark Sky Festival. “We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors back so they can experience our spectacular dark skies for themselves.” Catherine Johns, CEO of Kielder Observatory, which attracts thousands of visitors a year to beautiful Kielder Water and Forest Park, said: “Like so many industries, tourism has been hit hard by the COVID pandemic. By working together, we see a real opportunity to grow Northumberland’s reputation as the best place in the country for astrotourism.” Northumberland has already gained a national reputation for the excellence of its dark skies, and new events are being planned as the branding is launched which will boost its astrotourism offering. It includes building on the Northumberland Dark Sky Festival held last month, where more than 4,600 people logged on to 13 live streamed events, such as an Introduction to Astro Photography and Chasing the Northern Lights. Roy Alexander, director of Battlesteads Observatory worked with Kielder, Twice Brewed and Stonehaugh Observatories to organise the Dark Sky Festival. He said: “I was really proud of our inaugural Dark Sky Festival which brought together all of the Northumberland observatories to share our passion for astronomy. Looking to the future, Northumberland will no doubt continue to lead as a Dark Sky Park, not just nationally but globally. I’m excited to be part of a new era of positivity and collaborations that will engage more people and see even more visitors come and see us.” Duncan Wise, visitor development and tourism officer for Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “During the pandemic we have all reconnected with nature whilst we stay at home and there’s a sense of humility about standing underneath a beautiful dark sky. By engaging with people online, more people have been able to experience Northumberland’s dark skies, many for the first time. As restrictions on movement start to ease, people will want to come and see themselves what Northumberland has to offer. We now have four observatories in and around our Dark Sky Park and we’re collaborating to support growth in our astrotourism offering. We look forward to welcoming people back for some unforgettable experiences.”
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26 February 2021

TV's Julia Bradbury steps up

Television's queen of walking Julia Bradbury has stepped up to back a pub group that's encouraging people to enjoy being outdoors with new, self-guided Walk Inn breaks. Celebrating the nation's rekindled love for walking - and its fondness for the great British pub - The Inn Collection Group's Walk Inn breaks combine the best of an idyllic inn stay with self-guided walking routes in some of the UK's best-loved walking destinations. Television presenter and co-founder of online resource The Outdoor Guide, Julia Bradbury is famous for sharing her enthusiasm for walking, which, she says, goes hand in hand with pubs. Said Julia: “Pubs and walking – they're two great British institutions and together are a match made in heaven. “Now that there's an end in sight to travel restrictions with UK pub stays set to resume from May 17th, we're all looking forward to a change of scenery and what better way to experience this than pulling on your walking boots and setting off to explore some of the best scenery the UK has to offer – while staying in a pub. “I can't wait to be heading out on a trail which will end at a welcoming, family friendly pub, where I know grand grub and my favourite drink will be waiting for me – just the perfect combination after a day's walking. She added: “With light at the end of the tunnel for lockdown restrictions easing, now's the perfect time to plan where and what we'll be doing when we can. Local businesses like our pubs and the network of food and drink producers who supply them need our support right now, which is why I'm delighted to be stepping forward with The Inn Collection Group and their Walk Inn breaks.” With another staycation boom on the horizon following lockdown restrictions lifting alongside Brexit, many of us are already planning an outdoor adventure in the UK. Data released by VisitEngland[1] in their latest COVID-19 consumer sentiment tracker wave revealed a further rise in the number of people intending to take part in outdoor activities such as walking or cycling when travel restrictions ease. It also showed an added uplift in people's intentions to visit outdoor areas including mountains, beaches and trails. Kate Bentley is rooms director for The Inn Collection Group. She said: “We have seen a surge of demand for outdoor breaks which market intelligence from VisitEngland also confirms. “People are looking forward to being able to enjoy the freedom and wellness benefits of being outdoors and experiencing somewhere new once travel restrictions are lifted. “Walking ambassadors like Julia, along with our newfound connection to walking built through lockdown, has rekindled a love of the outdoors and walking for so many of us. “Our Walk Inn breaks will encourage people of all walking abilities to discover new places and scenery that is literally on the doorstep of our inns when domestic pub stays resume from May 17th, with the reassurance of our flexible cancellation policy and full refund guarantee so people can book with peace of mind knowing there is nothing to pay until they arrive. Our 'Inn Safe Hands' policy includes no quibble, full refunds within seven days as a result of closure.” She added: “We have a such a diverse collection of pubs in locations handpicked for their USP – whether that's on the sea front in Northumberland, close to vast moors in North Yorkshire or surrounded by magnificent fells in the Lakes. One thing they all have in common is their access to an array of walking routes that are suitable for all ages and abilities.” Running until 31 October 2021, Walk Inn breaks include a welcome drink on arrival, two-course dinner on your first night, two night's bed and breakfast, a pack of 20 Ordinance Survey walks plus a hearty packed lunch as well as the reassurance of free cancellations, nothing to pay until you arrive and a full refund within seven days in the event of closure. Also included is a free boot clean or access to wash down, drying and cleaning facilities. And if you're planning to take a four-legged friend, dogs stay free of charge on Walk Inn getaways[2]. Prices start from £125 per person for two nights, based on two sharing a double or twin room, offering a saving of up to £40 per person. For more information visit
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