ACTION girl Helen Skelton has taken time out from her record-breaking global charity activities to turn her hand to a major Northumberland landscaping project.
The TV presenter completed a 500-mile trek to the South Pole for Sport Relief in January, and in 2010 kayaked more than 2,000 miles down the Amazon, but her latest assignment was closer to home as she dug into the new Northumberlandia landform near Blagdon.
Ms Skelton, who hails from Cumbria, was invited to the site as part of filming for BBC1 rural affairs programme Countryfile.
She took a look around and on top of the 400metre-long figure, spoke to some of the people who have worked on the project over the past eight years and worked with landscape architect Mark Simmons to put the finishing touches to the landform’s left hand.
She said: “I didn’t expect to find anything like this, I absolutely love it.
“It’s a great place to come for a family walk or a picnic, or even a work-out — I’ve been running up and down it already.
“I’m really jealous that it’s up here and not in the North West where I live. I’ll definitely be back here for a visit when it opens.”
The 34metre-high feature, which covers an area bigger than seven football pitches, has been designed by world-renowned artist Charles Jencks as the centrepiece of a 19-hectare public park.
It is being funded by The Banks Group and the Blagdon Estate, which are investing £2.5million in the project, and when completed it will be managed by The Land Trust as a visitor attraction and local amenity for the community.
The park will contain more than 4km of surfaced paths and 2.5km of grass paths — the figure alone will take more than 20 minutes to walk around.
Banks Group spokeswoman Katie Perkin said: “We were extremely pleased to welcome Helen and the Countryfile team to Northumberlandia and believe that the national exposure this visit will give to the project will create even more excitement about the tourism, cultural, landscape and amenity benefits that it will bring to this part of the North East.
“This landmark project has been designed to provide a lasting legacy for both the local area and the wider region, alongside the significant employment and economic contributions that we make to them through our Shotton surface mine.
“Part of this legacy will be through the increased number of visitors that the landform will attract and the additional tourism revenues that it will undoubtedly bring in.
“Helen has been involved in some amazing adventures over the last couple of years and while North East England couldn’t be much more different to the South American rainforests or the snowy wastes of Antarctica, it’s clear that Northumberlandia made a real impression on her and we’re looking forward to seeing the programme go out.”
The programme will be broadcast on Sunday, April 1.
Landscaping work on Northumberlandia is set to be completed later this year. For more information about the project visit www.northumberlandia.com