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Looking west across the Allen valley from Staward Peel
Looking west across the Allen valley from Staward Peel

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Route No. 568 - Tuesday 30 September 2014
River Allen valley, Plankey Mill,
to Staward Peel & return - 9km
(Allen Banks is a National Trust site)
Northumberland . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL43 Hadrian's Wall Haltwistle & Hexham

Download route from National Trust web site


Looking across the fields towards Ridley from the high level path along the edge of the woods
Looking across the fields towards Ridley from the high level path along the edge of the woods

Leaving the National Trust car park at Allen Banks
Leaving the National Trust car park at Allen Banks

We followed the path southwards from the car park intending to walk along the riverside path. However this path was closed due to severe erosion caused by a serious flood in May 2013. The National Trust have been fundraising to gather the £100,000 plus needed for repairs to the paths and the pedestrian suspension bridge across the River Allen called the 'Wobbly Bridge'.

My wife & I are spending a week at a holiday cottage in Alnmouth, Northumberland. We decided (well actually my wife decided) to visit some of the many lovely National Trust sites here and today we have come to Allen Banks. The National trust car park at Allen Banks (map ref. NY797640) is about 800m south of the A69 and about 4km west of Haydon Bridge.

Footpath diversion due to last year's floods
Footpath diversion due to last year's floods

Climbing up to the high level path
Climbing up to the high level path

Path along the top edge of the woods
Path along the top edge of the woods

There were some cables still strung across the river but no sign of any decking at all. We continued along the path through the woods as it gradually descended to merge with the low level riverside path.

We followed the diversion to the high level path through the woods with glimpses of the river below through the trees. About 800m from the car park we could see the remains of the Wobbly Bridge below.

Path along the top edge of the woods
Path along the top edge of the woods

The remains of the Wobbly Bridge after the flood damage
The remains of the Wobbly Bridge after the flood damage

The path begins to drop down towards the riverside path
The path begins to drop down towards the riverside path

The path merges with the riverside path
The path merges with the riverside path

Path beside the River Allen
The path by the River Allen

Footbridge over the River Allen at Plankey Mill
Footbridge over the River Allen at Plankey Mill

Here there is the bridge over the River Allen at Plankey Mill. We crossed the River and followed the path along the other bank of the river past Plankey Mill.

About 2km from the car park we came to a footbridge over a stream called Kingswood Burn. Over this bridge the path turned left back towards the River Allen.

Path beside the River Allen
Path beside the River Allen

Footbridge over a stream called Kingswood Burn
Footbridge over a stream called Kingswood Burn

Plankey Mill
Plankey Mill

Following the River Allen upstream from Plankey Mill
Following the River Allen upstream from Plankey Mill

Entering the woods at Hag Bank
Entering the woods at Hag Bank

Footbridge over Harsondale Burn
Footbridge over Harsondale Burn

Just beyond the burn the path forked. It doesn't matter which path you take because they form a circuit up to Staward Peel, along the ridge and back along the riverside.

We cross a couple of fields along the riverside and then the path re-entered the woods at Hag Bank. We followed the broad track through the woods for about 800m to a footbridge over a stream called Harsondale Burn.

The River Allen near Plankey Mill
The River Allen near Plankey Mill

The woodland path heading upstream
The woodland path heading upstream

Start of the climb up to Staward Peel
Start of the climb up to Staward Peel

We stopped for our lunch at the first ruins we found on the ridge
We stopped for our lunch at the first ruins we found on the ridge

Log steps on the path up to Staward Peel
Log steps on the path up to Staward Peel

Path along the ridge towards Staward Peel
Path along the ridge towards Staward Peel

Path along the ridge from Staward Peel
Path along the ridge from Staward Peel

There is very little left of Staward Tower but there are lovely views from this vantage point across the valleys of the River Allen on one side and the Harsondale Burn on the other side of the ridge.

We kept to the left hand fork and began a fairly steep climb up to the ridge and the site of Staward Peel. Peel or Pele towers were built along the Scottish borders as lookout stations with a beacon on top of the tower to be lit to warn of an approaching raiding party.

The steep path continues up to Staward Peel
The steep path continues up to Staward Peel

A remnant of Staward Peel
A remnant of Staward Peel

Looking across the Allen valley from Staward Peel
Looking across the Allen valley from Staward Peel

The valley of Harsondale Burn seen from Staward Peel
The valley of Harsondale Burn seen from Staward Peel

Path along the ridge from Staward Peel
Path along the ridge from Staward Peel

Path back down to the River Allen
Path back down to the River Allen

Path through the woods back down to the River Allen
Path through the woods back down to the River Allen

This little path to the right is the one to take. If you reach the gate you've passed it. The little path goes through the woods with a steep drop down to the right and it soon joins a wide stony track heading down through the woods to join the river bank after a few hundred metres.

We continued along the ridge for about 300m from Staward Peel and ahead of us was a gate into some pasture land. About 50m before the gate there was a narrow path forking off to the right with a small National Trust sign on a low wooden post saying that the path was not dedicated as a public right of way.

If you reach this gate, you've passed the turning
If you reach this gate, you've passed the turning

Path through the woods back down to the River Allen
Path through the woods back down to the River Allen

River Allen from the riverside path
River Allen from the riverside path

Following the riverside path
Following the riverside path

About to leave the woods at Hag Bank
About to leave the woods at Hag Bank

River Allen in the afternoon sunshine
River Allen in the afternoon sunshine

We followed the path back to the car park and the end of our walk. The whole walk had been about 9km and it had taken us almost four hours including lots of photos and our lunch stop at Staward Peel. A very pleasant walk in the autumn sunshine.

We followed this track around the river bank and back to the footbridge over Harsondale Burn. We crossed the footbridge and retraced our steps back to Plankey Mill, We Crossed back over the River Allen and returned to along the path through the woods above the river.

Returning to the footbridge over Harsondale Burn
Returning to the footbridge over Harsondale Burn

Returning to Plankey Mill
Returning to Plankey Mill

Returning along the high level path
Returning along the high level path

Returning to the National Trust car park at the end of our walk
Returning to the National Trust car park at the end of our walk

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