Shepherds Walks owner Jon Monks

Shepherds Walks owner Jon Monks

A walking guide has stepped in to provide a national park information service in a former visitor centre closed during cutbacks.

Shepherds Walks owner Jon Monks will base his business at the former Coquetdale Centre in Rothbury.

The Northumberland National Park Authority announced the closure of the facility in 2011, but Mr Monks has agreed to provide visitor information when he moves his walking business and another of his firms, Capricorn Mohair Socks, to the site.

The authority said legal and other practical details are now being finalised with the intention of Shepherds Walks opening in the Coquetdale Centre as soon as possible for the coming season.

The news was welcomed by the business community of Rothbury and Coquetdale and members of the national park authority.

Discussions have been going on since 2011 when the authority decided to close the visitor centre after extensive cuts to its budget. The organisation said it was determined to find a solution to mitigate the demise of the centre and Shepherds Walks were chosen.

Jon Monks said: “I am delighted to be working with Northumberland national park and to be basing Shepherds Walks at the Coquetdale Centre, Rothbury.

“As a local to Rothbury I really believe we have much to bring to the village and the wider area.”

The former Rothbury national park centre where Shepherds Walks will be based

The former Rothbury national park centre where Shepherds Walks will be based

The re-opened centre will be the new home for Shepherds Walks and a focal point for visitors, helping them with their stay in Northumberland national park with walking and other activities available.

The authority said: “As Shepherds Walks is the largest walking provider in the region, with over 3,000 participants attending their events, walks and courses, there is considerable crossover with what people want when they visit the region.”

Tony Gates, chief executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “We are delighted to announce a partnership that will safeguard visitor information in the North of the national park, and particularly in Coquetdale.

“Shepherds Walks is an excellent business with a wide knowledge of the national park and a practical interest in its development.

“We look forward to formalising our relationship with Jon Monks and of establishing a new, business-led model for visitor information provision for the future.”

The Coquetdale centre was one of two visitor centres that the national park authority closed last autumn; the other is at Ingram in the Breamish Valley.

Mr Gates said the door was not closed for expressions of interest for a partnership at the Ingram Centre and confirmed that there had been renewed interest in the location in the last few days from a local business.