Visitor centre set to reopen

Rothbury Tourist Information centre which includes National Park visitor centre inside.

Rothbury Tourist Information centre which includes National Park visitor centre inside.

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A visitor centre in a rural beauty spot is to reopen, helping safeguard tourist information for the coming season, after a crucial partnership was forged.

Northumberland National Park Authority and Shepherds Walks have joined forces, ensuring that the Coquetdale Centre, in Rothbury, will be back in action.

The agreement was reached with Jon Monks, owner of the walking guide company, to base his businesses, Shepherds Walks and Capricorn Mohair Socks, in the former National Park Visitor Centre and TIC, and to run a National Park-branded information service as part of his operation.

The legal and other practical details are now being finalised with the intention of Shepherds Walks opening in the Coquetdale Centre as soon as possible for the coming season.

The news has been warmly welcomed by the business community of Rothbury and Coquetdale and members of the National Park Authority, who recognise the importance of visitor information to the local economy.

Discussions have been ongoing since 2011 when the Authority announced the closure of the visitor centre following extensive cuts to its budget.

The organisation was determined to find a solution to mitigate the demise of the centre and Shepherds Walks was chosen.

Tony Gates, chief executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “We are delighted to announce a partnership that will safeguard visitor information in the north of the National Park, and particularly in Coquetdale.”

He added: “Shepherds Walks is an excellent business with a wide knowledge of the National Park and a practical interest in its development.

“We look forward to formalising our relationship with Jon and establishing a new, business-led model for visitor information provision for the future.”

The reopened centre will not only be the new home for Shepherds Walks but will be a focal point for visitors, helping them with their stay in the National Park with not only walking but all of the other activities that are available.