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Open all year round

Open all year round

Wed 23rd October 2013

For the first time during winter 2013-14, Northumberland National Park’s visitor information point in Rothbury is to open every day instead of only at weekends.  The new hours will help people staying out of season who need help with information, activities and directions.

The visitor information point, situated at the National Park offices at Church House by Rothbury Market Cross, is now run in partnership with Shepherds Walks, the walking service and product company.

Late last year, the National Park Authority had to close the National Park Centre and TIC in Rothbury and its centre at Ingram in the Breamish Valley due to severe budget cuts, but the organisation was determined to find a different way of working that would keep the visitor welcome available.

In May, a partnership was formed with Shepherds Walks to move into the former TIC space and to incorporate a Northumberland National Park information point to enable both visitors and local people to enjoy the special qualities, activities and attractions of the region.

The partnership has been a great success this summer, with both visitor numbers and over-the-counter sales on an upward trend. It has also been noticed that more people are coming into the countryside to stay out of season for weekend breaks, so staying open all year round is worthwhile.

Jon Monks, from Shepherds Walks said:

“As a guided walk company we trade seven days a week and our Capricorn Mohair Sock business really picks up during the cold winter months, staying open throughout the year is something we did  successfully at our previous business location at Kirkharle and will continue to do so in Rothbury".

“We have had a great first six months in Rothbury. With the fresh start we also brough in a lot more local products which have gone down very well, and have started new actvities from the Rothbury centre such as our Tuesday Nordic Walks which are very popular. Both visitors and local people seem really to understand and appreciate the partnership that Shepherds Walks have with Northumberland National Park”, he added.

Shepherds Walks stocks local interest DVD’s, books and walking guides as well as Shepherds Walks walking products including walking poles, Nordic walking poles, GPS equipment and the now famous Capricorn Mohair Socks.  As well as housing the National Park Information Point, the sales assistant is on hand to provide local knowledge about the area for visitors.

Speaking on behalf of the National Park Authority,  Andrew Miller, Head of Programmes and Conservation said:

“It is good to see what was initially a bad news story, when the Tourist Information Centre closed, turn into a good news story for the National Park and the local area.  This is a business model we now feel confident to use in other locations and we hope soon to have some good news about visitor welcome at Ingram.”

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