“My favourite part of Northumberland has to be Pilgrims’ Way walk to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne surrounded by seals that sing followed by the sound of silence. It’s a very popular destination, however, the habitat is so fragile that every step you take matters… and every action has a consequence.”
Patrick Norris runs Footsteps in Northumberland - a popular guided walking business catering for walkers of all abilities. At the core of the business are guided informational walks to historical and picturesque places such as Hadrian's Wall and the Northumberland Coast. It also offers outdoor training courses such as map reading and compass skills.
We caught up with Patrick to discuss the campaign.
“I started the business over a decade ago and have seen more and more visitors to the county as each year passes. Covid halted everything when it first hit but last summer brought a lot of custom which also meant a lot of Countryside Code education. I am by no means a preacher but given I live and work in the county and meet people from all over the UK, I feel it’s my duty to share my knowledge of respectful behaviour.
Most visitors are of course, very respectful, but it’s awful having to take people to Hadrian’s Wall and seeing dog mess bagged up in plastic stuffed into nooks and crannies knowing it will take years to disintegrate… biodegradable bags are readily available as well as ‘poo pouches’ so you don't have to carry it.
My favourite part of Northumberland has to be the Pilgrims’ Way walk to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne surrounded by seals that sing followed by the sound of silence. It is a very popular destination, however, and the habitat is so fragile that every step you take matters… and every action has a consequence. Take dogs for example, if your dog chases and barks at nesting birds, they are quite likely to abandon their nests meaning the eggs, chicks and fledglings will die.
There is a huge education job needed when it comes to treating the landscape with respect. Fires are a real issue; when I was a boy, we packed sandwiches but these days, disposable BBQs have become the norm and they can and do have a devastating impact on the environment.
Tides are also a big deal, especially for the Lindisfarne walk - people think they only need to check the tide times but in fact they really need to check the safe crossing times in order to cross the causeway safely.
Planning your trip is essential to ensuring you leave no trace. I welcome all people to the county and I want everyone that visits to love it and to go away with a positive experience.
The best piece of advice I could give people visiting the region is ‘Leave no trace’, and I mean that quite literally. Take your rubbish home and ideally recycle it, be mindful of where you are walking, close gates, and don’t spook the wildlife!”
For more info on Footsteps in Northumberland, please visit: footstepsnorthumberland.co.uk