Northern Saints Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Northern Saints Project?
A: The Northern Saints Trails project is set within the context of the region’s considerable Christian Heritage and will see the development of six long distance walking routes based on existing ancient pilgrimage routes. The Trails will appeal to those of other faiths or those simply looking for their own personal spirituality, escapism and peace and tranquility. Some may wish to rise to the challenge of long-distance trails, others will dip in and out of shorter sections of the routes for a short walk or to visit attractions and churches and enjoy a local hostelry or tea room. indulge in afternoon teas or visit a welcoming country pub.
Q: What are the projects aims and objectives?
A: The main aim is to explore ways we can position and raise awareness of North East England as the ‘Christian Crossroads of the British Isles’. This will be achieved through portraying the region’s Saints and their stories set against the backdrop of the very best of the North East’s attractions, landscapes, places to eat and drink and visitor accommodation. We will be highlighting six routes, inspiring and training up community volunteers and marketing the theme regionally, nationally and internationally.
Q: Which organisations are involved in the project?
A: The Northern Saints Steering Group, consists of several regional partners, who have developed the Northern Saints theme as a destination development and marketing initiative to attract visitors. The project lead is Visit County Durham in partnership with: Durham Cathedral, Durham County Council, Durham Cultural Partnership, Durham Diocese, Durham University, Durham World Heritage Site, Gateshead Council, Hexham Abbey, Newcastle Cathedral, Newcastle Diocese, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Newcastle City Council, North East Local Enterprise Partnership, North Pennines AONB, North Tyneside Council, Northumberland Coast AONB, Northumberland National Park, Northumberland Tourism, South Tyneside Council, Sunderland City Council, Sunderland Minster, Tees Valley Combined Authority and The Auckland Project.
Q: Who is funding the project?
A: The project is been largely funded by Visit County Durham through Durham County Council, with match funding from partners from across the region.
Q: Which routes have been identified and are under development:
The Way of Light (Heavenfield/Hexham – Durham)
The Way of Life (Gainford – Durham)
The Way of Love (Hartlepool – Durham)
The Way of Learning (Jarrow – Durham)
The Angel’s Way (Seaton Sluice-Newcastle-Gateshead-Chester-le-Street)
The Lindisfarne Route (will run along the existing St Oswald’s Way & England’s Coastal Path)).
Q: Who decided on the routes and stories?
A: Durham Cathedral commissioned research into the stories of the better-known saints and the routes associated with them. The routes were agreed by all the stakeholders in the regional steering group.
Q: Have Local Access Forums been consulted? (LAFS)
A: Visit County Durham have presented the project to the LAFs in Northumberland in Hexham, Tyne & Wear Gateshead and Durham. We have received very supportive and positive responses and endorsement from all these Local Access Forums.
Q: Are the routes just for Christian pilgrims?
A: No, the routes are based on existing pilgrim routes and will be an attraction for those interested in pilgrimage, but they also act as a network of well-maintained visitor routes for all visitors by linking stunning landscape, nature, architecture, attractions, churches, places to eat and visitor accommodation.
Q: Who will decide which businesses and attractions will be included on the routes?
A: DMOs and Local Authority Tourism Officers are currently auditing their own product data listings to select places to stay, attractions and places to eat one mile either side of the six trails. These products will form the basis of content of the marketing collateral such as print, online, social media and press & PR. We will also be commissioning new photography and including this in a promotional leaflet, a guidebook, a new website and in social media. We will also be running a business engagement event to explain how businesses can participate.
Q: How will the routes be marketed?
A: An audit is underway across the region of all attractions, places to eat and drink, visitor accommodation, churches, nature-based tourism areas one mile either side of the route. This will form the content for all marketing platforms and channels. The theme and the routes will be marketed regionally, nationally and internationally through the combined efforts of the regions Destination Management Organisations and Local Authority tourism departments and individual partners. The Northern Saints trails will be marketed online via a dedicated website, through online marketing activity and through promotional leaflets using the best of the region’s imagery.
Q: When will the project be completed?
A: The first phase of the project and completion of the routes will be launched in Spring 2020 and supported by marketing channels, print, online, social media and PR with a year-long marketing campaign focused on Durham’s Year of Pilgrimage in 2020.
Q: What are the project timelines?
A: We have put together a detailed critical path, the main dates for information are as follows:
- Now: Final routes circulated to Rights of Way Officers
- W/C 29th July: Wayfinders discs and stickers ordered
- End of July: Letters of support from DMOs and Local Authorities collected
- W/C 5th August: Frequently Asked Questions FAQs uploaded to www.northernsaints.com
- By end of August: DMOs and Local Authority Tourism Officers audit of tourism : products/businesses on routes
- July-End of September Local Authority Tourism Officers and DMOs complete product audits 1 mile either side of the routes
- End of Sept/End of Dec 19 Marketing collateral developed and completed
- Between Early Sept/end Dec 19: Wayfinders to be installed subject to capacity and resources of Local Authorities
- March-April 20 Launch of trails
Q: How will the project evolve after the initial launch?
A: Phase I will focus on establishing six new routes, making sure they are visitor-ready, and creating the tools needed to promote the Northern Saints Trails. Phase II will develop the trails further and will potentially include training for church volunteers, product knowledge/educational training for businesses. It may include the expansion of the routes to other parts of the region or neighbouring destinations and reviewing opportunities for national/international marketing and promotion. VCD are researching appropriate funding programmes to support the development of Phase II.
Q: How can you get involved and support the Northern Saints project?
- Keep an eye out for the ongoing updates and visit the www.northernsaints.com holding page.
- Please circulate and share this update with colleagues and partners to ensure the project is embedded throughout the region.
- We are planning a Northern Saints Trails engagement workshop, to which all stakeholders and wider businesses and organisations will be invited. This will enable everyone to find out more about the project and how they can participate.
Q: Who can I contact should I have questions about the project?