With the largest area of ancient semi natural woodland in Northumberland, Allen Banks & Staward Gorge is managed by The National Trust. It’s a delightful place for a woodland wander along the banks of the River Allen, which rushes through the impressive rocky Staward Gorge.
The National Trust Car Park near Bardon Mill is £4 for the day or free to members. From there you can access various hiking trails deep into the wooded valley, whilst looking out for varied wildlife including deer, bats, dippers, otters and red squirrels.
The woodland originally belonged to nearby Ridley Hall before being gifted to The National Trust. During the Victorian era it was the Lady of the manor ‘Susan Davidson’ who developed the woodland walks and planted many of the trees and shrubs we see today. Apparently she was an enthusiastic animal lover and loved to take an assortment of dogs with her to church. And woe betide anyone who didn’t make a big fuss of her four-legged friends! Information about Susan can be found in the replica wooden summerhouse.
Allen Banks is apparently known for its impressive Wild Garlic display. We were a little early to see the ramson flowers on our visit during the Easter break, but did spy daffodils, wood anenome and toothwort. In Autumn various types of fungi can be found.
I loved the diversity of our walk which included steps cut into the rock, waterfalls, pools and bridges. The wooden summerhouse was a lovely viewing point too. We didn’t explore half the trails though, so plenty more to see for future visits. 😊
There are no refreshment options at Allen Banks & Staward Gorge, but the village of Bardon Mill is close by. We bought some lunch from the village shop and popped into the Pottery there, where I was tempted to buy ………a pot snail. 🐌
Have you ever visited Allen Banks & Staward Gorge?