Seven forests damaged by Storm Arwen reopen to the public in Northumberland

Mountain bikers back enjoying what Northumberland's woodlands have to offer. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Seven forests in Northumberland that were forced to close following the destruction caused by Storm Arwen have reopened to the public.

Hepburn, Wooler Common, Wark, Fourlaws, Falstone, and Slaley forests, as well as many parts of Kielder Water and Forest Park have been reopened in time for the school summer holidays.

The milestone follows eight months of work to clear the damage of November's Storm Arwen, which uprooted more than one million trees.

Alex MacLennan, of Forestry England, said: “The reopening of Northumberland’s forests is credit to all of the ground crews carrying out a safe and measured approach to the complex and specialist recovery work. “We continue to ask that everyone stays on the main forest tracks and always adheres to all information, warning signs and barriers to stay safe and support the ongoing recovery work across the county."

Crews from Forestry England and contractors have been hard at work repairing the damage since Storm Arwen hit last year. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Wednesday, 20 July marked the official reopening of the Lakeside Way, a popular 27-mile long, all purpose trail, and home to the popular Kielder Marathon. 

Teams from Forestry England and Northumbrian Water have cleared thousands of tonnes of fallen timber to enable walkers, cyclists and horse riders to once again enjoy Kielder Water - one of the major attractions for the 400,000 people who visit the forest park every year.

It is hoped all Northumberland woodlands will be reopened over the next year.

Work on tree clearance and replanting is still underway in Holystone, Simonside, Harwood Forest and Thrunton Woods.

Due to the size and complexity of the damage and remote locations this work is expected to continue into 2023.

With an expected boost in visitor numbers over the summer months, Northumberland County Council and Forestry England have launched a Love It Like It’s Yours campaign to remind people to enjoy the land while observing the Countryside Code.

People planning to visit Northumberland National Park are advised to check its website before travelling.

Forestry England also keeps an up-to-date list of which sites are open here

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