on February 2, 2013
We had heard quite a lot about Northumberlandia in the media so I was anticipating some grand things about the development. On paper it sounds great; a coal mining company redevelops an exhausted mining site with the moulded shape of a reclining woman; the largest such structure in the world with 4 miles of path and walkway for visitors to explore. The reality was rather different; the obvious flaw in the plan is that you need to somehow float about half a mile above the woman to really appreciate the form. The two viewing "towers" (mounds of earth) are woefully inadequate and you barely get a better perspective from them than other spots on the site. You might imagine the display boards at least show the woman from above but nope nothing.The walkways are rather frustratingly curved; while they help form the shape of the woman (from above at least) it is difficult not to be tempted to walk across the grass to form a shortcut. Although the sculpture only opened a couple of months, the head is already falling apart. I didn't think the structure was so revolutionary in design to think they might not have anticipated that the angle of a head might need additional support. Likewise, the paths were pretty muddy; sure it has rained a bit but this is the north east of England! The woman appears to be lying on her back in a muddy puddle. That many young people find themselves in this state in the early hours of a Saturday morning on city streets was not lost on me. However, I didn't find the setting romantic or graceful just a little sad. The structure itself is surrounded by mine works and a busy road. Of course, I appreciate the sculpture cannot choose its surroundings but it didn't really give a peaceful ambience. Perhaps in a few years once the mine has been worked through it will all look rather better.The parking to the Northumberlandia attraction is free although a £2 donation is suggested, and the car parking area is staffed. I suggest you take a look at the structure for yourself before deciding whether your experience was worth it – for me I was disappointed perhaps by the over hype and won't be rushing back to take another look.
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