Allen Banks is a stretch of the Allen river managed by the National Trust.
We missed the Bat walk with the ranger 2 nights before (find out why- here), but I was still keen to explore this little piece of nature. Dadonthebrink was stuck working, so off me and my brood went.
The Allen Banks walk was for me: I love walking along rivers, watching the water run down over rocks, spotting wildlife large and small reliant on the river for life, seeing the erosive work of water on the rocks and banks.
I just hope I can convey some of this love and admiration to my children!
We set off from National Trust’s well-maintained car park, where there’s a map and picnic tables.
The little information hut had run out of maps and other leaflets about the walk, so I snapped a picture:
I decided to do a round trip via the Plankey Mill. This is a 3 miles circular walk. I thought we could always turn back if we got tired.
The trail meanders along the Allen river. The stretch to the Mill is fairly flat, with a couple of off-shoots up the banks. I was certain we were not doing these, there was enough to keep the Littlins interested along the river!
We passed the remains of the suspension bridge (the picture of which had originally got me interested in the site) fairly early in the walk.
The terrain did change a little along the route. Angelina and Hugo often went ahead, while Max and I lagged behind. My 22 month old little toddler held my hand at times, sometimes walked ahead, sometimes needed some chivying to catch up with the others.
The path was rather muddy and wet due to the weeks of rain. Small streams of water trickled across the path in quite a few places. These all gave my brood lots of joy, none more so than Max, my toddler.
We took an hour and a half to get to Plankey Mill remains. We spread our picnic blanket and devoured our sandwiches. I took the boys trousers off to air them a bit, because they were very muddy. The two brothers were ever so cute in their matching stripy long johns as they ate their lunch.
After lunch I popped a visibly tired Max into my Little Life backpack. I gave him a dummy in the hope he’d fall asleep. No chance! There were too many exciting things to see.
We headed over 2 bridges- one over the Allen-, then up a steep road and dropped back onto the return trail.
This section was more undulating, following the river higher up, then dropping down, before rising again.
We climbed some stiles, I just about managed to squeeze myself and my backpack through a kissing gate.
In the fields besides us cattle grazed. Max was mesmerised by them. He took my head in his two little hands and turned it, when I failed to look where he wanted me to look.
The route would normally switch back to the other side via the suspension bridge. Instead we had to walk through 2 further fields and cross over a road bridge.
We collapsed happily into our car and within a minute of us sitting in Max was asleep.
Hugo deserves extra credits- he found some stones and some large sticks at the beginning of the walk. I refused to carry any of these for him, so he put some of the stones in his backpack. Only at the end, when putting his backpack in the car did I realise just how many and how heavy.
He also carried 3 different sticks with him through the whole walk.
So how far can a 22 month old toddler walk?
Nearly 2 miles if there is lots to see along the way
… and a further LOTS of miles if mummy or daddy pop him in a backpack. 🙂
Is Allen Banks an absolute must if visiting the area? No! It is however a very relaxed walk in a lovely environment. It is one of the largest expanses of ancient woodland in Northumberland with a very wide range of flora and fauna.
I’m dead proud of my children for doing this trail with me.
The walk took us 3 hours including the lunch stop of about 30 minutes. 1.5 hours to Plankey Mill and then an hour back.
You can find out more about Allen Banks at the National trust site: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allen-banks-and-staward-gorge/visitor-information/
The ranger often have activities on, some free, like the bat walk we missed out on. In the summer they will even have a wild camping night and to be honest if anywhere this would be gorgeous place to spend a night out in the wild!
If you like the outdoors and want some inspiration for getting outdoors check out the Country Kids linked blog posts: Lots of outdoor fun and inspiration!