Launch of Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail 23 May 2003


The Countryside Agency (CA) with Navigator PR & Marketing Communications Ltd

PR fee £25,000 Promotional literature and material £15,000 Launch event £30,000

Announce the opening of the new Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail, on 23 May 2003, England and Wales' 13th National Trail. The first time since the Romans that walkers would be able to follow the entire length of Hadrian's Wall along an unbroken, 84 mile, path from coast to coast - from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway. It took seven years and £6million to create (including £3m from Heritage Lottery Fund).


1. To make the opening of the new Trail known widely across the UK

2. Highlight the CA as the creator of the Trail

3. Ensure active support from public and private sector partners e.g local authorities, service providers, along the Trail so they can continue post launch marketing.

4. Demonstrate that (a) The Trail is open (b) The CA investment will open the area to tourists, play a key role in protecting a fragile World Heritage Site and bring much needed jobs and income to the local rural economy.


A 12-month programme to culminate in three launch day events featuring70 Roman re-enactors in Bowness, Walltown (mid point on Wall) and Wallsend. All media activity to focus on launch week rather than significant pre launch publicity - as the Trail was not ready to take walkers until opening day.

Target audiences were (i) Partners, (ii) Travel Trade, (iii) Walkers,
(iv) UK population, (v) Regional residents.

Method deployed
Broadcast quality film:In August 02 a helicopter was hired and a two hour broadcast quality film created of the entire Trail. It was anticipated that broadcast media would use this aerial footage at launch.
Press photography
In Aug 02 photography was commissioned to show various types of walker -i.e youth, less able - and brand shots capturing the spirit of the Trail through blue sky, rugged terrain and walkers enjoying the view. A photo CD was created for the press.
An initial meeting in June 02 sought partner support. In October a specially created four minute video was distributed to chief executives of partners to demonstrate the CA approach. Regular partner meetings reinforced buy in.
Travel Trade
In Jan an advance notice press release targeted travel trade media and travel writers. Key media were sent the photo CD. In March presentations were made at three key travel trade fairs, Great Outdoors Show, NEC, Travel Trade Fair, NEC, and Opad, Dutch travel fair. 150 national and international journalists saw the promotional video at the TTF opening event and 15 writers requested visits prior to the Trail opening.
In Jan, selected outdoor and walking writers received the advance release and photo CD. Eight requested visits. In March, CA Chief Executive, Richard Wakeford invited Country Walking readers to walk the Trail with him, to check final preparations, in the week before the opening.
UK population

In Jan 03 advance notice press release was issued to national media journalists including countryside writers and hard news journalists. Most national broadsheets arranged to visit prior to the opening, with itinerary and funding provided by Hadrian's Wall Tourism Partnership. In April sell in calls were targeted at news and consumer broadcast media. The CA's aerial video footage was supplied to BBC TV, Sky News, Countryfile and Blue Peter.

Branded literature included an introductory leaflet. A 'walker's passport' was produced with £5000 sponsorship from local brewers Jennings. With partners we produced an official guidebook and map, accommodation guide and events list. A Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail web site was created. Journalists were given case studies of businesses expecting to prosper from the Trail, demonstrating the Trail's economic benefit. These case studies were featured in a double page spread in the CA's national newsletter (circ 19,000). In May key media were targeted regarding Richard Wakeford's walk. Daily media interviews were arranged starting on 'day one' with Radio 4's The Today programme. A week prior to opening a launch release reminded journalists of the event.

Regional residents
Bowness residents were concerned about the impact of tourists on the small village. Keeping residents informed well in advance of the launch was the strategy's focus. Communications work included public meetings, radio phone ins, a village newsletter and involving resident representatives in the planning process.
Launch day - Bowness
All 70 pupils from the village school were in Roman costume at the opening ceremony. Wallsend; After a Roman re-enactment, local celebrity Matt Baker of Blue Peter performed the official opening. A launch press pack was issued containing a press release, case study details and background to the Trail. Walltown; Mid point on Wall. A lunch, video film and Roman re-enactment was held for partners.
Outcomes/Relation to objectives and cost effectiveness

1. Make opening widely known

An estimated 20million newspaper readers and 8 million TV viewers had an opportunity to see coverage, with advertising equivalent exposure worth £1.5million. All national TV news programmes covered the launch which, supported by the CA's £6,000 aerial footage, generated over 60 minutes of TV time, including a two minute fast forward of the entire route on BBC Look North. In total, approx 8 million viewers saw footage worth an advertising equivalent of £1.25m. 300 separate press articles were achieved with 33% using photographs. 41 national daily press/ colour magazines articles were achieved. These 41 articles had editorial space at ad equivalent rates worth £250,000. Sky TV ran live broadcasts throughout the day from locations on the Wall. BBC TV breakfast and GMTV weather girls broadcast live from the Wall. BBC Breakfast News and One O'Clock News, ITN and Channel Five News carried interviews from the launch. BBC Look North carried an eight minute live feed and Border TV and Tynes Tees TV carried interviews and launch footage. The Guardian ran a full back page preview article. The Daily Telegraph and Independent sent reporters who included case studies from the press pack. 27 radio features and interviews were generated on launch day including R4's Today and Radio 5 Live. Blue Peter and Countryfile ran eight and seven minute slots. Two German film crews attended the launch. An informal survey showed 90% of people questioned a week later were aware the Trail was open.

2. Highlight Countryside Agency as creator of Trail

Almost half the articles credited the Countryside Agency as Trail creators. CA branding was visible in all TV broadcasts and the Chief Executive and Trail Development Officer did 50 interviews.

3. Partners

Inclusive consultation encouraged 15 organisations to contribute with financial support and payment in kind to the launch, e.g Tynedale District Council commissioned its own VNR, with finance from Hadrian's Wall Tourism Partnership, incorporating the CA's aerial footage.

4(a) Trail is open

Approximately 700 people walked the Trail from coast to coast in the four weeks after opening. web site received 35,000 hits in May 03 compared to 23,000 in May 02, a year on year increase of over 50%. Hadrian's Wall Information Line received four times as many enquiries as usual- over 2000 phone and email (normally 500) -from 19 May to 6 June. An extra member of staff was brought in to handle the increased volume of calls and other visitor centres helped out. Visitor numbers at Wall sites in June are up significantly on 2002 -often by 50%.The AD122 Hadrian's Wall public bus is carrying 70% more passengers than last year. 25,000 Trail information leaflets were produced and a 30,000 reprint was needed even before the launch. 4,000 official guidebooks, at £12.99, sold out in just three weeks -making Stanford Books' top 5 best seller list. A reprint is now underway. Hadrian's Wall Tourism Partnership produced 25,000 accommodation guides in March and stocks are now exhausted. 15 Country Walking readers walked with Richard Wakeford.

4(b) Rural regeneration

A business survey is underway (with completion end July) but anecdotal evidence shows most accommodation already fully booked for the season. As Trail walkers spend an average £30 per day per person, the first 700 walkers have already spent over £100,000 in the local economy -excluding day trippers and other visitors.

Advance planning brought positive buy in from public and private sector partners. The aerial video and photographs were used widely. Re-enactors brought a Roman link and provided a strong visual message for TV. Widespread and early consultation with Bowness residents brought local support and avoided adverse publicity.
Outside contractors
Navigator PR, the CA's regional PR consultancy, planned and co-ordinated media liaison, designed and produced all promotional material, obtained sponsorship, and liaised with Alan Hillary Event Management team. Countryside Agency PR team sold the story to key national media.

Navigator PR& Marketing Communications

Paul Johnston, Philip Young and Olivia Assheton

Countryside Agency

Isobel Coy


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