Appeal to stick to designated footpaths to protect iconic land sculpture

Northumberland Wildlife Trust has appealed to the public to stick to the designated footpaths at the Lady of the North whilst they carry out repairs following years of erosion.

Jessica Mckeown
17th May 2023
Image Credit: @Stardustraven2 on Twitter
Northumberland Wildlife Trust has appealed to the public to stick to the designated footpaths at the Lady of the North whilst they carry out repairs following years of erosion.

The sculpture of a reclining female figure is located near Cramlington and is created from 1.5 million tonnes of rock, clay and soil. Designed by the late Charles Jencks, an American landscape designer, the outdoor attraction was unveiled back in 2012 and is visited by around 110,000 people per year post-pandemic. Standing at 100 feet high and a quarter of a mile long, there are approximately four miles of footpaths on and around the sculpture.

Visitors have frequently cut across the grass and slid down from the highest slope - over a decade of this has led to noticeable damage to the sculpture

Despite signage at the entrance of Northumberlandia, visitors have frequently cut across the grass and slid down from the highest slope. Over a decade of this has led to noticeable damage to the sculpture. This has created what is known as 'desire paths', a naturally occurring phenomenon following years of humans trampling over the same desired route of grass. Essentially, human laziness has led to shortcuts eroding nature.

Estates officer Peter Ernst spoke to the Guardian newspaper, "She is looking worse for wear. People see there’s a line and they just walk up it even though there is an obvious path. Kids just think it is a big playground, which I understand … but look at the state of it."

Over the next few weeks, the estate intends to add further signage dissuading the public from straying from the footpaths but do not want to create 'a blizzard of unsightly signs'. Northumberland Wildlife Trust has confirmed they will be carrying out repairs that may take years to complete. The Trust relies on donations, something which Peter Ernst believes could be spent elsewhere due to the entirely preventable nature of the damage to the sculpture.

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