A CASH boost has been given to the development of eco-tourism around Hadrian’s Wall.
The £589,000 Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) grant to the Hadrian’s Wall Trust will help projects in north and west Cumbria.
It covers tourism activity incorporating nature and wildlife, walking and cycling, local produce and accommodation, all linked to the Hadrian’s Wall Country brand.
The trust, which is based in Hexham, has set up a satellite office in Maryport and a new post of project manager has been created to lead work with local businesses.
Rural Affairs Minister Richard Benyon said: “Hadrian’s Wall is a great place to experience our countryside. We want to help aspiring local businesses and this grant will help them make the most of the opportunities brought to the area by thousands of visitors every year.
“Our heritage sites and countryside are a real draw for holidaymakers and sightseers. There is a big opportunity to grow the rural economy through tourism.”
Linda Tuttiett, chief executive of the Hadrian’s Wall Trust said: “The 150-mile Hadrian’s Wall world heritage site is the whole of the Roman frontier zone – including the Roman coastal defences at Ravenglass, Whitehaven, Workington, Maryport and Bowness-on-Solway, and the western end of Hadrian’s Wall.”
The central section of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland is a major draw, but the aim is to tempt more visitors to come to north and west Cumbria including the rural areas of Bewcastle, Lanercost and Brampton, east of Carlisle.
“The aims of this eco-tourism project are to help local businesses grow sustainably through their association with the world heritage site, and to help visitors to value and understand the world heritage site more through improved interpretation, access and signage,” said Ms Tuttiett.
“The Hadrian’s Wall world heritage site attracts visitor spend of over £880m per annum to the north of England. This programme will encourage much growth at the western end of the frontier and we want local Cumbrian businesses to benefit and thrive.”
RDPE supports rural areas in a number of ways which recognise the connections between agricultural and economic development, environmental stewardship and community sustainability.
It is part funded by the EU through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas, managed by Defra.
The world heritage site runs from the western Roman coastal defences at Ravenglass, through Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport to Bowness-on-Solway, along Hadrian’s Wall through Carlisle and Hexham to Newcastle, Wallsend and South Shields.