Scheme out to make the most of countryside

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A PROGRAMME has been launched to bring landscapes to life and help people get on their bike to discover the countryside around them.

Northern Lands will feature a host of projects including electric bike hire and new cycle and mountain bike routes, upgrading existing and creating new discovery sites where people can enjoy star gazing, food trails to showcase the region’s producers and support for rural tourism.

It comes after Defra invested £463,000 in seven schemes along the Durham Heritage Coast, which stretches from Sunderland to Hartlepool, as well as the North Pennines and Northumberland coast areas of natural beauty, Northumberland National Park, Hamsterly Forest and Kielder Water and Forest Park.

That fund has been added to £286,000 from the protected landscape organisations and Durham and Northumberland county councils.

Melanie Sensicle, chief executive of Visit County Durham, said: “We are delighted that we have been able to help bring this investment into the North East. Our protected landscapes are some of our most important assets, and we want visitors to discover and enjoy them.

“Each landscape has its own characteristics and qualities, and Northern Lands will bring these to the attention of many more people.

“The projects will develop the landscapes in a responsible and appropriate way, and they will help sustain our rural communities who do so much to look after these special places.”