Allen Banks is just south of the A69, in the South-West corner of Northumberland, west of Hexham.
A National Trust wooded river walk. There is an official NT car park, with a £3 parking charge, which might be OK if you plan to spend some time in the woods. There is also a 'back entrance', with free parking in a layby.
***** in December 2023 the pathway from the NT car park was closed due to a landslide. As yet there is no date for re-opening. ****
The walk as described involves a hard climb back uphill from the river and is definitely not disabled friendly, with no facilities. If you chose to use the NT car park on the other side of the river, I suspect that the walk may be easier.
Probably best not to use Satnav to find this walk. The nearest post code is for Ridley Hall, NE47 7BP.
Heading west along the A69 from Hexham, you will see the turn off on the left for Allen Banks about 3 miles past Haydon bridge. Coming from Carlisle, the turnoff is on the right, about 5 miles past Haltwhiste, and is signposted for Allen Banks and Staward Gorge.
This road crosses a bridge over the South Tyne, then comes to a very narrow bridge under the railway. Turn left just past this bridge at the entrance to Ridley Hall, and after about 100 yards you will see the NT car park entrance on your right. If you want free parking, continue on, cross a rickerty looking bridge over the Allen to a farm where the road turns right. After maybe 400 yards you drive up a steep hill, then you will see a small layby on the right with a gate leading into a field. Park here.
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Go through the small gate marked 'National Trust', and into the field The pathway over the field is quite obvious, but be aware that there may be sheep in the field. At the end of the field, enter the woods through another gate and follow the path uphill, past the charcoal burning bin.
At the top of this rise you will see a tarn on your left, then the path continues uphill and forks near the top. Take the right fork and continue along the ridge, then go down hill through the trees.
The pathway passes some rock formations then joins another pathway. Bear right here, then left again, heading downhill until you reach the Allen river. Head upstream and you come to what used to be a suspension bridge over the river, but it was washed away in a flood. Hopefully it will be restored eventually. Follow the path upriver past some cliffs until you decide you have had enough, then turn back and retrace your steps.
Now there's a lot of paths up and down the hill, but follow the purple route markers, and they should bring you back to the tarn.
Also, there are lots of other options for walking. Walk down river and you will reach a bridge that takes you over to the NT car park. Continue to walk upriver and you reach another bridge, so you could plot out a circular walk of 8 miles or so, if time and energy permits.
Allen Banks was part of the Ridley Hall estate, a manor house originally built in14th century. The estate changed hands a few times, until it was eventually bought by a Mr John Davidson, for his wife Susan, the granddaughter of the 9th Earl of Strathmore. It was the Victorian Lady Susan who developed the banks, building flower beds, formal gardens, paths, rustic bridges and summerhouses. She also developed the woodland surrounding the gorge over a period of about 35 years. The tarn that you pass at the beginning on the walk is an artificial creation, dug out as a Victorian boating lake. The estate was given to the National Trust in 1942.
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