Floods force closure of Allen Banks

Allen Banks and Staward Gorge, a Victorian wilderness garden in the Tyne Valley, has lost many of its historic footpaths and the famous wobbly bridge in recent extreme weather events.

National Trust experts, who look after the popular countryside site, warn that landslips and river bank erosion has destabilised the woodland gorge.

The full scale of the damage, which is unfolding day by day, is yet unknown, however it is widespread enough for the National Trust to close the whole site to visitors.

Chris Johnson, ranger for the National Trust said:

“Allen Banks and Staward Gorge is not safe for walkers at the moment. We’ve seen multiple landslips which have uprooted large trees and washed away footpaths, and the land is still moving. We need to wait until the movement stabilises before we can properly survey the site, understand the full extent of the damage and make plans for the future.”

The devastation began in December when Storm Desmond hit the North of England. Many areas of countryside that the National Trust care for in the Lake District were flooded, and at Allen Banks the suspension bridge, which had just been rebuilt after being damaged by a storm in 2013, was badly hit.

The extreme weather since Storm Desmond, has taken its toll all along the Northumberland valley. In Walks Wood, which is the first bit of woodland you reach after leaving the car park, a 300 metre landslide has washed away the network of paths and uprooted trees. The whole area is thought to be unstable and movement in the land is being seen daily.

Morralee Woods has also suffered from a substantial landslide resulting in huge boulders tumbling down the valley side wiping out pathways and uprooting trees. Again on this side of the river, continuous land movement is being noted by National Trust rangers.

The devastation continues into Staward Gorge where landslides have taken place, but the full extent of the damage in this area is as yet unknown as the tracks used by the National Trust to access the site are suffering from slippage.

Chris continued:

“Over the coming weeks we’ll be monitoring the damage and as soon as we’re able, we’ll start to reinstate footpaths and reopen the site. We’re not sure how soon this will be or even which paths we’ll be able to reopen yet. We know that Allen Banks is very popular with walkers, but we’re asking everyone to find an alternative place to walk while landslips continue to pose a daily risk.”

The National Trust has said that events at Allen Banks will be cancelled for the foreseeable future, including their popular Easter Egg Hunts. However the stargazing event which takes place on the 17 February at neighbouring Ridley Hall will still go ahead as planned.

To keep up to date log onto www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allenbanks or follow them on Twitter @AllenBanksNT. To see a video of the storm damage at Allen Banks visit https://www.youtube.com/user/NTYorkshireNorthEast