The Allen Valleys - fabulous scenery, lots of paths for walking, bridle paths for mountain biking and fabulously quiet roads for road cycling, but what to do if it is raining?
1. Have a walk down to the East Allen - the power of the river is magnificent after hours of rain - truly impressive (and frightening), so be careful. In the autumn (late September to early November) the really big sea trout jump the weir at Allen Mill when there is a big flow of water
2. Have a drive up the valley to Allenheads or make a round trip up the East Allen and down the West Allen, or travel across to Stanhope in Durham or to Alston in Cumbria. Enjoy towering black and grey storm clouds and huge skies. Stop for a coffee and cake somewhere.
3. Have a browse around Allendale. Quirky gifts in the Gift Shop and ever-changing displays in the Allendale Forge Studios. Find a gift there or a local treat like Allendale Brewery beer, Cumberland honey mustard, or Tweed honey in the Co-op or locally-made pies in the butchers
4. Go on a quiet road walk such as the Splitty Lane Walk to get out in the air, without your clothes being saturated by wet grass on public footpaths. 3 mile, 4 mile and 5 mile options.
5. Find out about the area's lead mining heritage with the displays at Allen Mill and on the village trail at Allenheads. Look at the displays in the Allenheads Heritage Centre, including the blacksmith's shop and the huge Armstrong mine engine.
6. Visit the Museum of Classic Sci-fi in Allendale (Friday - Monday)
7. Visit Hexham Abbey visitor centre and definitely go down to the Abbey crypt and see the foundation stones looted from ancient Roman sites
8. Have a trip on the South Tynedale Railway in Alston - a heritage narrow gauge railway. See the Discovery Centre and the Hub museum.
9. Vindolanda has a great indoor museum, with a display of the Vindolanda tablets; letters about gifts of socks from a mother to her Roman army soldier son, birthday invitation. Go outside to see the remains of the fort if the weather clears and have a walk along the Hadrian's Wall path.
10. Read your book? There is a book and magazine swap in the Allendale Caravan Park laundry. Put a few pence in for the Air Ambulance and curl up with your book
The Allen Valleys are a blaze of white flowers at the moment. It is a fleeting magnificence and soon the pinks and blues will take over. Go for a walk anywhere in the valleys and the verges and footpaths are full of white flowers.
The bird cherry flowers are in greater detail below:
The wild garlic, or ramsons, is still in bloom and there is a great garlicky smell as you walk past it. I have tried cooking wild garlic growing on Allendale Caravan Park when the children were little and wanted an 'explorers' meal they had helped forage -meatballs wrapped in wild garlic parcels and baked with a tomato sauce over. They were happy, but the leaves disintegrated into a green mush, which I didn't find very appetising. Tell me if you have more success.
The hawthorns are just coming out - early this year. The 'May' flower is usually early 'June' in the Allen Valleys.
Like the hawthorn, the cow parsley is just coming in flower. Soon there will be huge rolling lengths of it along roadside verges
The Jack by the hedge is in full bloom opposite the entrance to the park
But, the important thing is that photographing all these flowers doesn't spoil a good walk.
In the white garden. 22/5/19
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