Northumberland National Park Authority is celebrating the first anniversary of the award-winning Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre with a summer of fun-filled events.
Since The Sill opened its doors to the public 12 months ago, the Centre has rapidly become one of the region’s leading visitor attractions, welcoming over 170,000 visitors and providing an iconic gateway for people to learn about and explore Northumberland National Park.
Glen Sanderson, Northumberland National Park Authority Chairman, said: “We are delighted with the success of The Sill and the fantastic level of support it has received from the public.
“The response from visitors has been very positive. Prior to opening we could never have imagined more than doubling our original visitor numbers in just 12 months. I’d like to congratulate the team at the National Park Authority and our fantastic partners for their hard work and dedication in helping to make this a truly magnificent first year for The Sill.
“We are thrilled the Centre is fulfilling its purpose of connecting people with our wonderful county and we are looking forward to welcoming more visitors as we host a summer jam-packed with events and adventure throughout the Park.”
Named after the nearby Great Whin Sill, The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre is the result of an innovative partnership between Northumberland National Park Authority, YHA (England & Wales), and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through a £7.8 million grant made possible by National Lottery players.
In May, the Centre was presented with a RIBA North East Award from the Royal Institute of British Architects for architectural excellence. The Sill offers exhibition, learning and event spaces, a café, business hub, YHA accommodation and a shop packed with local produce, arts and crafts. The building also features a world-first; fully accessible Whin Sill Grassland roof which provides a perfect spot for people to take in the iconic views of Hadrian’s Wall. The Sill also works with schools, community organisations and businesses to provide educational workshops, activity days and other opportunities.
To celebrate its first anniversary, the National Park Authority has teamed up with a host of local partners to deliver a range of special events and activities designed to suit all ages and abilities.
Tony Gates, Chief Executive at Northumberland National Park Authority, explains: “As the UK’s first dedicated National Landscape Discovery Centre, The Sill is designed to excite, inspire and enable people of all ages to understand and explore the landscapes, history, culture and heritage of Northumberland.
“What has been particularly pleasing is to see three generations of the same family visit, exploring together and sharing their landscape stories. Our visitors range from school groups and university students learning in our classrooms to four generations of one family enjoying our accessible roof walk together, proving The Sill is providing a perfect gateway to engage people with our unique landscape. It has even been providing further inspiration to many well-seasoned landscape explorers.
“As part of our first anniversary celebrations we want to share the magic and encourage visitors to return to the National Park or to join us for the first time. Whether you’re seeking adventure or something more chilled, we have activities for everyone throughout the summer.”
Over the coming weeks visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in virtual reality at The Sill’s state-of-the-art ‘Digital Landscapes’ exhibition which uses pioneering interactive technologies to bring treasures of the National Park to life, making its wild and beautiful landscapes accessible to all.
Running until 30 September, Digital Landscapes is an innovative exhibition and events programme that showcases how digital technology can be used to gain a deeper understanding and enjoyment of landscape and the natural world. The exhibition demonstrates the benefits that new technologies such as 3D modelling, drone surveys and digital mapping have had on tourism, leisure, land management and conservation.
The Digital Landscapes exhibition is supplemented by a series of exciting public events from Minecraft on the Wall using a Raspberry Pi to discover how Roman architects constructed Hadrian’s Wall to guided walks and bike rides. There’s also nature hunts, hidden history tours, star gazing, mammal monitoring and action packed family shows including ‘Rock n' Stroll’, which is storytelling, theatre, comedy and music at its best. Rock n’ Stroll takes visitors travelling through the tropical deserts, swamps and Ice Age to leave you with a brain full of new scientific facts and a big smile.