A Welcoming Park - Outcome 1.2

Outcome 1.2 – The National Park will be accessible to a wider and more diverse audience including people who live in, work in, and visit the National Park.

Target – To increase visits to Northumberland National Park by those living within the region by 10% by March 2021 (from the 2016 baseline); increase visits from currently under-represented groups by 10% by 2021 (from the 2016 baseline); and improve information and infrastructure with more sites in the National Park accessible to all.

Performance – Acceptable (COVID Impacted)

Trend – Improving

Impact – With impacts remaining on foreign travel during the 2021/22 visitor season, there was a bounce back of visitors coming to Northumberland National Park with many of them visiting the for first time. Following on from the previous year, we saw a continued increase in new visitors from urban areas. However, our baseline for visitors to the National Park was 1.47m and the number visiting in 2021 was estimated to be 1.27m, the target for the end of the management plan was 1.62m. Similarly, we have not been able to achieve our ambitious target for Activities during the year.

The funding provided by the CRF enabled us to recruit more volunteers and seasonal rangers to support these visitors and provide additional information and support.

We have been fortunate to be able to participate in Generation Green, a UK wide £2.5m project led by Access Unlimited. The project has reached more than 115,000 young people and children concluding in early 2022/23. We have also been working with JET, Chrysalis Dementia Support and Black Nature in Residence to provide target opportunities for people to visit and enjoy the National Park.

The Sill has been awarded the Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design, recognising its credentials as an accessible venue. In addition, we have installed 3 Changing Places facilities at The Sill, Cawfields and Walltown.

Unfortunately, Storm Arwen caused damage to around 20% of our public rights of way network. The impacts continue to be felt with closure or diversions on a number of routes leading to fewer access opportunities.

Finally our web visits have grown significantly following the pandemic as people continue to explore our visitor offer.

Key Points

  • Total Visitors[1]: See our visitor metrics table below.
  • In 2021/22 97% of our Public Rights of Way were estimated to be ‘easy to use’[2].
  • Significant investment has gone into some key sections of our Public Rights of Way network in 2017 and 2018 with £50,000 invested in improvements to the Simonside footpath and £30,000 invested in improvements to the Pennine Way.
  • Visits to our website have increased by over 300,000 per year with visits to our walking pages around 25% of the total.
  • Our website is 94% compliant with current accessibility guidelines, within the top 10 of all government websites.

[1] Source: NNPA, Go Northeast, STEAM

[2] RoW surveys are selected on 5% of the network at random by Northumberland Country Council. This has caused the unusual situation of 97% of our network being “easy to use”, despite 18% of our network being closed following Storm Arwen.

[3] Change from 2015/16 Baseline

Visitor Metrics for NNP

Table illustrate the change against 2015/16 Baseline.

Metric2015/16 (baseline)2020/212021/22Percentage Change [3]
Activity Days (In NNP)10,1538206884-32%
Activities Held38315208-45%
Visitor Centres29,60948,600120,382+306%
STEAM (Tourism measure)1,465,000970,0001,274,000-13%
NNP Website114,037426,399569,690398%