Partners, led by Northumberland National Park Authority, are set to make significant improvements to the national trail within the Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage site, after receiving £143,000 as part of National Grid’s Landscape Enhancement Initiative (LEI).

National Grid has awarded over £3 million through LEI since the programme launched in 2016, through 21 projects across the 30 eligible National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) that contain existing high-voltage transmission electricity infrastructure.

Grants are available to support small-scale landscape projects that help reduce the visual impact of transmission lines and pylons in the landscape, whilst also making a positive contribution to natural beauty, wildlife and biodiversity, cultural heritage, and public enjoyment of these special places.

The Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail is one of the National Park’s most popular destinations, with high volumes of visitors walking the route often impacting on the surface of the path itself.

Work on improving the trail will begin in 2022, with work focusing on the resurfacing and enhancing of 4 areas of the national trail in the central section and on protecting slopes from further erosion; with the overall goal to improve the landscape’s appearance, and overall access to the trail.

The funding, which is supported by match-funding from both Northumberland National Park Authority and the National Trust will also help to repair and rebuild a 500m section of Hadrian’s Wall as part of the overall project.

Northumberland National Park Chief Executive, Tony Gates said: “We are delighted to receive such a significant grant from the LEI which will allow us to carry out vital work to one of the Park’s most popular trails.

“Hadrian’s Wall is one of the most important monuments in the UK, and with this funding our team can now work towards ensuring that it can continue to be enjoyed by our visitors for many years to come.”

Andrew Poad, General Manager for Hadrian’s Wall and Tyne Valley Group commented: “The work to repair the wall is a huge but essential undertaking which we have wanted to find the means to complete for a long time. 

“The National Trust cares for 8 miles of Hadrian’s Wall and its surrounding area, so this grant presents us with a fantastic opportunity to conserve some of the Wall in its more remote locations.  By doing this, we’re not only looking after the Wall and helping habitats to thrive, we’re also helping to preserve the access to it for future generations to come.”

Environmentalist and broadcaster Chris Baines, who chairs the Visual Impact Provision project’s national Stakeholder Advisory Group, said: “The important role our National Parks and AONBs play in people’s lives has never been more evident than over the last year during the pandemic. Through LEI we hope to make a positive contribution towards preserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the landscape as well as helping to forge new partnerships between landowners, NGOs, and the volunteering public.

“We’re delighted to be working with Northumberland National Park, the National Trust, and National Trails to provide funding for the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail and look forward to watching their progress as they work to help to make this historic and dramatically beautiful areas even more enjoyable to visit.”

The announcement follows a record year for the Park in its visitors numbers; with an estimated one million visitors going to Hadrian’s Wall annually and iconic locations such as Sycamore Gap and Cawfields Quarry continuing to experience high visitor numbers even during times of Government restrictions. 

The Park’s new visitor campaign, ‘Now & Forever’, looks to capture experiences and memories created in the Park which can last a lifetime – whilst emphasising the importance of responsible behaviour, including taking litter home and being considerate of wildlife, and ensuring the Park remains a place for people and nature to recover together.