Father and daughter spark rescue operation after getting lost in Storm Arwen-damaged Rothbury wood

Alex Maclennan, from Forestry England, said the wood near Rothbury, Northumberland, was still dangerous due to damage caused by Storm Arwen. Credit: Forestry Commission

Walkers are being urged to stay clear of an area still being cleared after Storm Arwen after a father and daughter became lost in the 2,800 acre wood.

Forestry England is still working to clear Thrunton Wood, near Rothbury, following the devastating storm in 2021.

The warning to the public comes after a father and daughter became lost in the 1,133 hectare (2,800 acre) Northumberland wood last weekend.

That resulted in a call to the police and the deployment of Northumberland National Park and North of Tyne mountain rescue teams to lead them to safety.  

Forest rangers say this is the fourth incident in recent weeks where people have entered areas of woodland around Rothbury, which are currently off limits due to storm recovery work.

Storm Arwen damaged or destroyed 12% of Thrunton’s trees. 

Some have been cleared, but others are still hanging dangerously in the air and could fall at any time. For that reason the wood has been closed to the public with large warning signs erected at all access points.

Alex Maclennan, public affairs manager Northumberland with Forestry England, said: "Not only is there a danger of being struck by falling trees and branches, but the conditions under foot are extremely difficult.

"Heavy harvesting equipment is also currently removing trees and clearing access roads. This poses its own threat to people who ignore signs and slows down the work. Shutting a popular woodland is a serious decision for us, but public safety comes first. 

"We hope to have the wood fully opened by the summer, but until then it’s vital people stay away.”  

 Iain Nixon, team leader with Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team, added: “I’m not sure how the walkers ended up where they did in an area of significant tree fall, but thankfully nobody was injured.  Whilst all ended well, we would reiterate Forestry England’s advice to stay out of the wood until work is completed.”

Other Forestry England woodlands in the Rothbury area affected by Storm Arwen include Kidland and Harwood, where only the forest roads are open, and Simonside, which is now fully accessible. The advice is to check online before you visit and stay safe.

Rural Inspector Garry Neill of Northumbria Police said: “Our top priority is always the safety of those who live in our area and that’s why we’re urging people to stay clear of Thrunton Wood currently. Please always plan and research your walks before you set out – taking into account everything from weather to on-going works.

"We’re lucky to have such amazing local Mountain Rescue Teams and the best way to help them is by being a responsible walker.”

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