Allen Banks

Allen Banks

Route: Allen Banks and Staward Gorge 

Area: Northumberland

Date of walk: 8th August 2019

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 5.3 miles

Ascent: 500 feet

Weather: Mostly sunny

Allen Banks and Staward Gorge make up the largest area of ancient semi-natural woodland in Northumberland. This wilderness garden was created by Susan Davidson who lived at nearby Ridley Hall in the 19th century. The area is now managed by the National Trust and the Forestry Commission, who are working together to preserve it for future generations

There are various trails which can be explored, all of them starting from the Allen Bank car park at Ridley where a walking map is available. We set off with no particular route in mind, save that we wanted to follow the woodland path by the banks of the River Allen. We knew that we’d have to retrace our steps at some point, as the opportunity for circular routes here is limited

We set off along the waymarked trail through the woods, at first above the river and then alongside it. We crossed the footbridge at Plankey Mill and continued our walk along the other bank of the river. As we followed the path back into the woods a couple of roe deer surprised us by bounding past at close quarters, but they vanished before I could raise the camera

We’d been hoping to climb up to Staward Peel for the ‘great views’ which are promised from the ruins of this medieval gatehouse and pele tower. However a temporary path closure due to forestry operations was in force, which hadn’t been indicated until this late point in the walk.  The tower was only 5 minutes away, and this was a rather frustrating end to the walk. Banishing thoughts of trespass, which were tempting I must confess, we retraced our steps back through the gorge to the start. We had no regrets, as it had been an enjoyable walk in beautiful surroundings

Click here or on the Map Page icon for the route map

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