Visitors flock to attractions

Wallington was the fourth most visited paid-for attraction in the North East.
Wallington was the fourth most visited paid-for attraction in the North East.

Several tourist attractions in Northumberland were some of the most visited in the North East during 2014, recently-released figures have revealed.

VisitEngland’s Annual Survey compares the number of people who passed through the doors of visitor spots last year, compared to 2013.

It makes happy reading for a string of Northumberland attractions.

Wallington was the fourth most visited paid-for attraction in the region. In 2014, 202,457 people passed through its doors, compared to 184,812 in 2013. It represented a 9.5 per cent growth.

Julie Thomson, events and marketing manager at Wallington, said: “It is great news for us. We have been working very hard to attract new visitors, as well as making sure we offer a lot for repeat visitors. We have been working on all areas of the property.

“We have been making improvements, upgrading footpaths, adding different play areas in the woods and working on the house and opening it up to create a different atmosphere and make it feel more like a family home.”

Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens was 10th on the same list. However, the figures revealed that the English Heritage attraction had suffered a 10.2 per cent drop in footfall, with visitor numbers falling from 64,810 in 2013 to 58,211 in 2014.

Kate Maughan-Brown, English Heritage’s PR Manager – North, said: “Visitor numbers fluctuate a little each year depending on a number of factors such as the weather on event days.

“We are enjoying a good summer at Belsay this year and have plans well in hand for our must-visit knights tournament at the end of August.”

Cragside House, Gardens and Estate, in Rothbury, was third on the paid-for list.

A total of 216,099 people visited the attraction in 2014, up from 202,617 in 2013 – representing a 6.7 per cent increase.

Ellen Glover, from Cragside, said: “The figures are fantastic and we are really pleased.”

It comes as the North East experienced a seven per cent growth overall, while visitor numbers for the whole of England rose by four per cent in 2014. Jude Leitch, director at Northumberland Tourism, said: “We are pleased with the figures.

“Our attractions have worked really hard over the last few years and they provide great customer service to increase the number of visitors and we try to support them as much as we can.

“The county has had some great exposure and programmes like Tales from Northumberland do make a great difference.”

Other paid-for attractions in Northumberland that were among the 20 most visited in the North East were Bamburgh Castle, Housesteads Roman Fort, Lindisfarne Priory and Castle, Warkworth Castle, Chesters Roman Fort, Dunstanburgh Castle and Howick Gardens and Arboretum.

The RNLI Grace Darling Museum, in Bamburgh, was ranked 15th in the most visited free attractions in the North-East.

All of these attractions saw visitor numbers grow in 2014, compared to 2013.