A Northumberland family who farm close to Hadrian's Wall are hoping to attract some of the Wall's many tourist visitors with the creation of a new campsite and bunkhouse on their land. The venture has received backing from Defra's Rural Enterprise Scheme (RES), which is delivered by the Rural Development Service (RDS).
David and Sandra Maughan run Greencarts Farm with their two sons Anthony and Richard, near Humshaugh, close to the wall near Hexham. The Maughan family have tenanted at the mixed farmfor three generations. Mrs Maughan already runs a small B&B at the farmhouse, offering three rooms with ensuite or private bathroom, and soon realised there was a great demand for more accommodation.
Mrs Maughan explained:
"Around 95 per cent of our visitors are walkers, many of them walking along the route of the wall and there does seem to be a real shortage of accommodation of all types.
"Last year we turned so many people away that we realised there was a market there for more accommodation so we came up with the idea of opening one of our small fields as a campsite for tents and converting some old farm buildings into bunkhouse accommodation. We've also created a shower block, toilets including a disabled toilet, drying room and a kitchen and we can now take up to 30 tents in the campsite and up to 18 people in the bunkhouse.
"The funding from the Rural Enterprise Scheme has really helped. We were awarded a grant to cover 50 per cent of the cost, which was more than £115,000 and without the grant we would not have been able to go ahead. It's been hard work but hopefully it will pay off and by diversifying in this way we can boost our farm income and help more visitors enjoy all the area has to offer."
Sue Harrison, an adviser for the Rural Development Service in the North East, said:
"Last year we teamed up our RDS colleagues in the North West, the Countryside Agency and Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail, Hadrian's Wall Tourism Partnership, The Camping and Caravan Club, One NorthEast, Business Link for Northumberland, Haltwhistle Partnership and parish councils in Northumberland and Cumbria to launch the Hadrian's Wall Tent Project.
"This aims to offer up to 50 per cent funding, through RES, to farm and tourist businesses to provide campsites, toilets and other basic facilities for walkers and visitors in areas where they do not already exist and this is a great example of the kind of projects we're looking to support.
"Hadrian's Wall attracts thousands of visitors every year and it's great that farmers like the Maughans are showing the innovative spirit needed to diversify into new areas of business and become part of the region's thriving tourism industry."
To find out more about the facilities on offer log onto the website at www.greencarts.co.uk.