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Northumberland National Park || Allenheads Contemporary Arts

the Northumberland artists: Paul Grimmer || Bridget Kennedy

Northumberland National Park (see map) is the northernmost national park in England. It covers an area of more than 1049 km² between the Scottish Border in the north to just south of Hadrian's Wall. It is one of the least populated and least visited of the National Parks. The park lies entirely within Northumberland, covering about a quarter of the county. Northumberland National Park was officially designated on the 6th April 1956. The Park Authority actually owns only 2.5 square km of the land in the National Park; private landowners, the Ministry of Defence and the Forestry Commission are the main landowners.

Here there are high hills, wide open sky-scapes, heather clad moorlands, forests and river valleys, often described as 'The Land of the Far Horizons', one of the great remaining open spaces in Britain, with over 900km/600 miles of way-marked footpaths and bridleways. This is also a rugged borderland, where you are reminded of its violent Reiver past by the castles and fortified farms (bastles) that pepper the landscape.

Northumberland National Park is the least populated of all the National Parks in England and Wales with a population of around 2000 people -- only 2 people per square km and, perhaps as a consequence, is an area noted for the richness of its biodiversity.

The park covers several distinct areas. In the North are the Cheviots, a range of hills that mark the border between England and Scotland, with the highest point being The Cheviot, at 815m. The distinctive rounded Cheviot Hills were formed when lava erupted from the earth’s core and flowed out over the area. The hills are criss-crossed with bridleways which allow mountain bikers and horse riders to follow the routes of ancient cattle drovers. The dramatic waterfall of Linhope Spout is worth a visit for walkers as is the ascent to the highest point in Northumberland, Cheviot summit, from where the Pennine Way snakes along the border ridge. At the Cheviots’ northern edge, you can still trace the hut circles left within the pre-roman site of Yeavering Bell.

Further south, the hills give way to areas of rolling moorland, some of which have been covered by forestry plantations to form Kielder Forest. The southernmost part of the park covers the dramatic central section of Hadrian's Wall, now a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The 10,000 year history of the region is explored through the many archaeological sites, ranging from prehistoric monuments and Roman remains to Pele towers, constructed as a defence against Border Reivers. The Park's official symbol is the Curlew.

The Park Authority cares for:

1100 km of paths for walking, cycling and horse-riding including two National Trails
259 listed buildings
432 scheduled ancient monuments
3,883 Historic Environment Records
31 Sites of Special Scientific Interest covering over 10,000 ha
6 Special Areas of Conservation
3 National Nature Reserves
A Ramsar (international site for the protection of birds)


Text for this page was taken from a number of sources, including the NNP entry on Wikipedia, and the NNP site.


Northumberland National Park


allenheads contemporary arts

The local organising partner for Northumberland was Allenheads Contemporary Arts (ACA). They say:

"Allenheads Contemporary Arts provides opportunities for the development of new ideas and work. Established in 1994 by Alan Smith and Helen Ratcliffe ACA works from an old Victorian Schoolhouse situated on a steep hill overlooking the village of Allenheads in Northumberland. From here we develop, commission and present innovative projects, disseminating the results to a wide audience, through web and broadcast projects, publications, symposia and exhibitions. Over the years we have built a varied interpretation of the environment through a wide-ranging programme of research.

At the schoolhouse we have a residential studio, providing state of the art digital facilities for both still and moving image, as well as a range of more traditional studio and exhibition facilities. In July 2007 ACA took over Allenheads old village shop and post office. Located in the centre of the village, the venue is primarily used as an open studio and exhibition space. It has also housed performances, workshops and symposia."


Contact details: Old School House, Allenheads, Northumberland NE47 9HR
Telephone: 01434 685 040

More information is available on their website. The Northumberland artists also kept an active blog during the project.



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