Friday, December 01, 2006

Countryside celebrations

Redcar and Cleveland Council's three countryside visitor centres are celebrating their best-ever visitor numbers – over 100,000 this year.Attendances were boosted by a host of special woodland events run by countryside rangers and volunteers at Guisborough Forest and Walkway, Flatts Lane Woodland Country Park and Saltburn Valley Woodlands Centre. These events attracted the public, schools and groups to a wide variety of events from recycling craft sessions to Hallowe'en parties.

The Saltburn Valley Woodlands Centre (01287) 622408 has thrived this summer and autumn, highlighted by 'The Pageant of Light'celebration, which attracted over 1,000 visitors. The 80-hectare site is just a five minute walk from Saltburn beach, making it an ideal and popular location to discover the countryside from spying woodland mini-beasts to rock-pooling on the beach. This year, Saltburn Valley was granted a Green Flag Award, the national standard for parks and green spaces, a first for the Council. The Valley boasts the spectacular Italian Gardens as well as informal parkland, ancient woodland, meadow and grass land and the Centre tells the story of the valley through various interpretations. The Centre holds a year round programme of events, including every Tuesday in school holidays family fun days for all ages from crafts to trails.Countryside Ranger, Neil Thirkell, joined the countryside team in 1995 and has been at Saltburn Valley for six years, offering expert insight to the woods and its inhabitants. Neil says he is still getting to know the Valley and its wildlife and what the public want from the site.

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