Allen Banks and Staward Gorge – 13th October 2019

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Us in a little shelter high on the banks of the River Aln

Arriving early for the Allen Banks and Staward Gorge walk, we knew it was likely to be a wet day. However, for the moment, the rain was holding off.

We welcomed Jane for her first walk with Strolls with Poles and Julie gave her tuition on the technique before we took advantage of the weather and quickly did our warm up before setting off.

The start

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Reaching the Allenbanks high path

We set off along the river before taking the track up to the high path. As the high path winds along the top of the valley, we were able to get brief glimpses of the view. We reached a viewpoint with a folly built on it.

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Plankey Mill

A little way along from the viewpoint we descended some stone stairs back to the river. We followed the river to Plankey Mill, where we crossed. The bridge there is the latest of many that have periodically been washed away by floods. Remnants of the suspension bridge are still visible here.

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Plankey Mill bridge

Unfortunately, Plankey Mill is where the rain started and it was in for the day. We followed the path along this side of the river towards Staward Gorge.

Staward Gorge

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Us at Staward Gorge

The scenery at Staward Gorge is more dramatic than the more ornamental nature of Allenbanks. The steep sided gorge has more coniferous woodland, that is currently in the process of being logged. Rather than spoiling the views, it enhances them by opening up what was hidden by the trees.

From here we had to climb the hill to Staward Peel. In the wet weather this seemed even steeper than anticipated but we made it.

Staward Peel

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The ascent to Staward Peel

Staward Peel was the lunch stop, despite the rain. The remains of the Peel tower offered a little shelter even though there was no roof.

Back to Plankey Mill

After lunch we set off towards Harsondale Cleugh. On the way we met a family out for a walk. It turned out that they farmed the Western side of the Aln, close by. The ground up here was wet and we plodged through the field before entering the wooded valley of Harsondale Cleugh.

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Harsondale Cleugh

We carefully descended the Cleugh and crossed the footbridge before carefully ascending the other side. Here we found we needed to cross a stile, except that the stile was lying in bits by the fence. So, everyone climbed the fence as best they could.

From here it was just fields and tracks back to Plankey Mill. However, there was a pleasant interlude when we came across two heavy horses in a field.

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Heavy horses

This was pleasant for many of us but not so much for Dave, who lost his footing and slipped in the mud. Luckily, only his pride was hurt.

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Muddy trousers

Return along the River Aln

From Plankey Mill we followed the lower path along the river, which took us quickly back to the start. We sheltered under the roof of the seating area and did our cool down before returning to the cars.

The tearoom that we were planning on going to was closed for an event, so most of us decided to set off for home. Julie, Martin, Dave and Anne decided to go to Brockbushes on the way home.

Good to see you all on this one and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Julie and Martin x

If you liked the Allen Banks and Staward Gorge walk why not take a look at our other walks.

Gallery – Allen Banks and Staward Gorge

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