Northumberland National Park Authority’s multi-million pound visitor centre and youth hostel on Hadrian’s Wall is celebrating a five-digit visitor milestone just months after opening.
The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre saw more than 51k visitors in August and September – nearly half the forecast visitor numbers for an average year. The £14.8m scheme, which launched on July 29, also welcomed over 2,000 guests to its 86-bed youth hostel.
Named after the nearby Great Whin Sill, the centre is the result of a partnership between Northumberland National Park, Youth Hostels Association (England & Wales) and the Heritage Lottery Fund, which supported the development with a £7.8m grant.
The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre houses fixed and temporary exhibitions, event spaces, a 90-seater café, gift shop and accommodation.
Northumberland National Park Authority chief exec Tony Gates said: “The centre has been transformational for us. It has been a very successful start with extremely positive visitor feedback.
“When we opened at the height of the holidays we welcomed lots of families and since the new school year started the profile of our visitors has changed but we have remained busy.”
He continued: “Now we are starting to see different patterns of visitors using the building including university students, school children and a large proportion of international visitors which is very pleasing.
“As this is our opening period we fully expected to be busy, and whilst our performance is ahead of target, it will be interesting to see how visitor patterns work out across the year.”
Chairman of Northumberland National Park Authority, Glen Sanderson, commented: “We want the centre to inspire a new generation of landscape enthusiasts.
“A key target for us is to have every child from a school in Northumberland spend a day in the National Park. We want young people to enjoy going to the countryside and understand it.”
He added: “The centre is a big step to being able to achieve that.”