Quality test of the Nordhordland Wool Route

Nordhordland Biosphere Area have used the SHAPE project to develop a Visitor Heritage Route showcasing traditional and modern use of wool as raw material.  Welcoming Shape partners from abroad, the learning journey to Nordhordland became somewhat of a test run for the new tourist attraction.

By: Kari Evensen Natland – Region Nordhordland

Seventeen participants from 5 countries took part in the learning journey to Nordhordland in June. The guests wanted to learn how to develop a comprehensive visitor experience that can act as the backbone for several individual tourist attractions. The hosts wanted feedback on their heritage tour from people who are struggling with the same kind of challenges. A perfect match!

Gemma Urquhart at Gripen Farm. Photo: Kari Evensen Natland

A new era for wool

Wool used to be the material of choice for making cloth all over the world. After the second world war synthetics took over much of the market, but with a growing awareness of the environmental challenges of producing and disposing of clothes made from synthetic fibre, there is a renewed interest in wool. Nordhordland is building on this trend.

The Nordhordland Wool Route let the visitors experience it all – from raising the sheep to knitting, sowing or weaving the wool into both traditional and fashionably modern garments.

Does it work?

The Wool Route was launched in the spring of 2019, so for the hosts in Nordhordland it was important to learn if the different attractions were relevant, providing the right information in an easy to understand way; if they were visitor-friendly and seen as good contributions to the wool heritage route as a whole. The feedback from the visitors from abroad provided important input and prepared the Nordhordland group for the task of further developing the project.

What to take home?

Working on similar projects in their home countries, the visitors got first-hand knowledge on how to set about such an ambitious undertaking. Cooperation and early involvement of all stakeholders is extremely important.

Gripen Farm. Photo: Kari Evensen Natland

Nordhordland also got valuable help by teaming up with the regional tourist board located in the nearby large city of Bergen.

So, there was both concrete knowledge, inspiring ideas, valuable connections and of course lots of good memories to take home – made clear in the statements from the participants:

I found it very useful to learn about the preparation-work & details of designing the Wool Heritage Route.

– I have really enjoyed my experience. I will pass on my new knowledge and ideas to crofters and farmers at home. It is inspiring to see Norwegians so passionate about sheep, wool, production, keeping the traditions, heritage and culture.

SHAPE is a three-year Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) project promoting the development of ecotourism initiatives. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.