A 'NONDESCRIPT' layby on the Cumbrian border has been transformed into a visitor attraction as part of a multi-million pound package of environmental and heritage improvements.

The rest area on the westbound carriageway of the A66, near Stainmore, has became a visitor stop-off, complete with renovated 19th Century marker stone and four new display boards chronicling the human and natural history of the area which borders County Durham.

The work has been done as part of a five year, £5.2m, project designed to improve biodiversity, landscaping and the heritage of the region.

Don Auriac, Highways England project manager said: "At Stainmore we’ve improved the experience for drivers taking a quick break and better acknowledged the significance of this gateway location - and it’s just one of dozens of improvements we have or will be delivering across Cumbria and North Lancashire over 10 years.

"Our motorways and major A roads are the arteries of the economy – keeping businesses, commuters, tourists and goods and services on the move.

"However, we’re determined to minimise the impact on the environment and enhance their surroundings where possible."

The fund has helped Highways England support bee pollination in Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Get Cumbria Buzzing campaign designed to breathe new life into roadside verges along the A595 and A66.

The Government agency says it is also helping to transform verges and boost habitats through better stewardship and the planting of native species.

Other work on the cultural heritage of the area includes enhancing the environment around local landmarks like the 17th Century octagonal sandstone Countess Pillar near Penrith and the iron age Castle How Hillfort on the western shore of Bassenthwaite.

Also included was creating a 'faithful replica' Victorian milestone that would replace a missing one near Whinfell Park.

It has also restored another historic, and heritage listed, milestone near Crackenthorpe Hall.

In terms of landscaping Highways England says its also helped transform the A66 layby at Troutbeck west of the M6 - together with general and biodiversity improvements including the tidying up of the layby and verge, wildflower seeding and the planting of heather and bilberry, birch, holly, hazel and elm trees together with other fauna to encourage wildlife.