A day out strolling by the river and visiting a medieval stronghold set high above the river.

Allen Banks and Staward Peel are just a short distance further down the valley from our location. The area is the largest area of ancient semi-natural woodland in Northumberland, with paths criss-crossing the almost 700 acres, with the river coursing through the middle. The Peel that stands above the river dates back to 1200’s and has connections to both the church and crown.

The area now is tranquil and pleasant, but back in medieval times things were very different. Northumberland was the land fought over by generations as both the Scots and English tried to claim it. Alongside this the Border Reivers terrorised the area with cattle rustling, feuding, murder and arson taking place either side of what is now the border.
In order to protect themselves and their livestock the locals built fortified farmhouses, as in the case of Starward Peel this was in a very easily defended location. However, it is believed that the original building on the site was a shrine, possibly dating back to Roman times. Over the years the site has been a full castle owned by local Lords as well as the English Crown.
The National Trust now own the land that makes up Allen Banks and Staward Gorge, which had been in private hands belonging to the owners of nearby Ridley Hall. The grounds of the hall and riverside were developed by the owner’s wife and the latter can now be enjoyed by all as the family gave the estate to The National Trust.

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