March 19, 2012 | Community News
All-action TV presenter Helen Skelton has been wowed by the north east’s newest landmark after visiting the region to undertake a slightly more gentle challenge than she’s been used to recently.
Having completing a 500-mile trek to the South Pole for Sport Relief in January this year, the same charity for which she kayaked more than 2,000 miles down the Amazon in 2010, Helen has now put her mark on the north east countryside by carrying out some landscaping work on the new Northumberlandia landform, to the west of Cramlington.
The visit was part of a filming assignment for BBC1’s flagship rural affairs programme Countryfile, which also saw Cumbrian-born Helen taking a look around and on top of the 400m-long figure, and speaking to some of the people who’ve been involved in its design and construction over the last eight years.
The resulting programme will be broadcast on Sunday 1 April.
Landscaping work on what is the world’s largest human landform sculpture is scheduled to be finished later this year, and during her visit, Helen worked with Banks’ landscape architect Mark Simmons to put the finishing touches to the figure’s left hand.
Helen Skelton says: “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, and I’ll definitely be back here for a visit when it opens.”
Designed by world-renowned artist Charles Jencks, Northumberlandia has been constructed by regional developer the Banks Group.
Banks and Blagdon Estate are investing around £2.5m in the creation of the landform, which will form the centrepiece of a 19-hectare public park being built on estate land which will be managed by The Land Trust as an amenity for the local community and an attraction for visitors to the region.
When the park opens to the public, it will contain more than 4km of surfaced paths and over 2.5km of grass paths.
Northumberlandia alone is more than seven times the size of the pitch at St James’ Park, is taller than an eight-storey building at its 34m highest point and takes more than 20 minutes to walk around.
Katie Perkin at The Banks Group adds: “We were extremely pleased to welcome Helen and the Countryfile team to Northumberlandia, and believe the profile 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 whilst 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.”
For further information about the project, please visit www.northumberlandia.com