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Family-friendly things to do at Allen Banks & Staward Gorge

A group of people sitting in the woodland at Allen Banks and Staward Gorge outside a wooden structure
Sitting outside the summer house at Allen Banks and Staward Gorge | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

A woodland wonder with a river running through it, the remains of a medieval pele tower as well as a reconstructed Victorian summerhouse and ornamental pond plus oodles of wildlife. Allen Banks & Staward Gorge is the perfect setting for a family adventure.

Planning your family visit

  • Set off on an adventure with wonderful woodland walks
  • Discover the remains of a medieval pele tower
  • Run wild in 617 acres
  • Visit a reconstructed Victorian Summerhouse with breathtaking views
  • Spot some special wildlife including red squirrels and roe deer
  • Get to know a tree or three
  • Tick some things off your 50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4 list
  • Connect with nature in ancient woodland
  • Toilets in car park including accessible toilet

Go wild for wildlife

More than 70 species of birds have been spotted at Allen Banks as well as a number of mammals such as roe deer, dormice, otters, bats and those elusive red squirrels. It's rare to see red squirrels when walking in the woods. But you might be lucky if you scour the treetops, where they spend their days on the lookout for snacks such as seeds and acorns.

Have fun with fungi

With many dark, moist nooks and crannies, Allen Banks makes the perfect habitat for fungi to grow, which is why there are so many species here. Giant Puffballs, Common Puffballs and Yellow Stag's Horn as well as the slightly scary-sounding Deceiver can all be spotted in summer and autumn. A few species of small mushrooms look very similar so please take care and be sure exactly what kind of mushroom you have before you eat one.

Picnic at the summerhouse

The Victorian summerhouse has been lovingly restored and it’s a perfect spot to take a moment to rest, have a picnic and admire the views. To find it, follow the walking path to the right of the car park – it’s at the top of a steep hill.

'50 things to do before you're 11¾'

Run off some energy or work up an appetite with an adventure through Roman times. Imagine the lives of the Roman soldiers, stationed at Housesteads almost 2,000 years ago with a trip around the Fort. Take a walk along Hadrian's Wall or stop for a picnic and admire the views. You could also tick off some of the '50 things'. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • No. 33 Go cloud watching: Find a patch of grass, lie back and watch the clouds go by. With a little imagination you can create whole worlds from the shapes you see in the clouds.
  • No. 44 Watch a bird: There are lots of birds to spot at Hadrian's Wall - look out for house martins, wheatear and meadow pipit. You will also see swallows, who return each year after spending the winter in Africa. See if you can spot some butterflies too.
  • No. 50 Take a friend on a nature adventure: It's double the fun when you share a nature adventure with a friend of family member. What will you discover together?
Two girls exploring the woodland trails at Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire

‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’

Have fun exploring nature and the great outdoors with our list of ‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’.