Funding shores up coastal park visitor facilities

Richard Pow (left) from the Forestry Commission, and Graham Mitcheson, Northumberland County Council Coastal Officer, on the sand dunes in Druridge Bay with woodland in the background, allocated a �100,000 FC grant.
Richard Pow (left) from the Forestry Commission, and Graham Mitcheson, Northumberland County Council Coastal Officer, on the sand dunes in Druridge Bay with woodland in the background, allocated a �100,000 FC grant.
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A COASTAL beauty spot will be shoring up its visitor facilities after securing new funds.

Druridge Bay Country Park, which attracts around 300,000 visitors every year, has picked up £115,000 from the Forestry Commission to improve access and enhance its stunning natural environment.

The attraction was created on the site of a former opencast mine near Hadston after coaling ceased in the 1980s and combines a mix of habitats, such as sand dunes, water and woodland.

The new grant will ensure that visitors can enjoy the landscape as much as its resident wildlife, enabling the existing footpath network to be improved and extended, with multi-use routes created for bikers and horse riders.

There will also be further planting to provide another three hectares of native woodland, while limited felling work will be carried out to open up the views from paths.

Windblown timber will be cleared, new signage will be erected and better drainage will be installed to stop trails from becoming boggy.

Forestry Commission Grants and Regulations Manager Colin Grayson said: “What has been achieved at Druridge Bay since opencast mining ended has been quite amazing.

“Once it was a powerhouse of industry, but now it has been transformed into a stunningly beautiful place.

“This grant will significantly upgrade access within the park, with six paths improved or created.”

The cash has been provided through the English Woodland Grant Scheme, which is part of the Rural Development Programme funded by Defra and the European Union.

Northumberland County Council, which manages the country park, has welcomed the investment.

Countryside Access Manager Mike Jeffrey said: “Druridge Bay Country Park is a fantastic recreational resource for walkers, riders and cyclists.

“The improvements that this grant will bring over the next few years will extend and improve the opportunities for all users to enjoy the park and its woodlands.”

Tree planting and access works are already under way at the site and will be phased over the next three years.