“Although I do explore and love all of Northumberland, growing up in the East Allen Valley means it will always be my home and therefore my favourite place. It’s where I now raise my children and it has such a beautiful community, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.”
Charlotte Reid has many strings to her bow from being a forest school practitioner, to a gardener to the director of Fawside Charity that now owns Deneholme Woods in Allendale.
Being from the Allen Valley, Northumberland holds a special place in her heart and she is keen to see magical places such as the ‘Witches Circle’ and ‘Oldman Bottom’ kept as sacred as they should be.
Sadly when we spoke to Charlotte she was concerned that these North Pennine wonders could be destroyed because of camp fires, human defecation and littering.
“For me, Northumberland has it all from our stunning coastline to the hidden depths of places like Deneholme Woods. It doesn’t surprise me that people from all over the country wish to visit us… what does surprise me is when some disrespect the place I call home.
“Being on the board at Fawside Charity, I get to work on amazing conservation projects. One of the biggest achievements for the charity was gaining ownership of Deneholme Woods so that now it’s open to the public. I used to play in the woods when I was little but it wasn’t particularly safe to do so, now we have placed proper footpaths in for people which are clearly signposted and safe to walk on - as well as a bridge over the burn. We have an incredible team of volunteers that maintain the route.
“My favourite place in the woods is what us locals call the ‘witches circle’ which is just a big clearing in the trees close to the top of the dene but many think it holds Druid qualities. For me, it evokes childhood memories of sitting around there telling spooky stories.
“Although I do explore and love all of Northumberland, growing up in the Allen Valley means it will always be my home and therefore my favourite place. It’s where I now raise my children and it has such a beautiful community, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
“We have incredible folk festivals and on New Year's Eve go all out with a traditional Tar Bar’l where we burn the old and welcome the new. It’s these traditions that we wish to keep for generations to come but we need visitors to respect our home.
“Right at the top of the valley has been the worst hit with litter and mess lately with people even taking to defecating in public! Not keeping dogs on leads has also been bad, especially for local wildlife. I don’t think people do this intentionally but if a dog is allowed to roam freely, the chances of scaring the wildlife off is highly likely and we need that wildlife whether it is frogs or birds, it’s all part of our ecosystem and what keeps Northumberland as precious and stunning as it is.
“It is important to remember that we are very welcoming up north and love to see visitors enjoying Northumberland in all its glory, especially as the rural economy has been hit so badly by the pandemic. However, it would be incredibly humbling if those who holiday here did treat every place they visit with the same respect as their home town. My advice is to keep safe, shop local and please be respectful.”