Seven forests in Northumberland are reopening in time for summer.

Following Storm Arwen last November, 2021, where around one million trees were uprooted overnight, seven forests in Northumberland are reopening in time for summer.

Over the past eight months Forestry England crews and contractors have worked tirelessly to reopen Hepburn, Wooler Common, Wark, Fourlaws, Falstone, Slaley forests as well as many parts of Kielder Water and Forest Park in time for the school summer holidays.

Northumberland County Council and Forestry England are excited about the reopening of forest areas and are welcoming visitors to the county with one clear message to ‘Love It Like It’s Yours’.

The ‘Love It Like It’s Yours’ campaign aims to welcome people to the county while reminding everyone to act responsibly by following the Countryside Code at all times.

Today (Wednesday, 20th July), Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust officially reopened the entire route of the Lakeside Way – a popular 27 mile long, all purpose trail, and home to October’s Kielder Marathon.

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

Forestry England’s Recreation Public Affairs Manager in Northumberland, Alex MacLennan, 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.

“It is thanks to the public’s patience we are able to welcome them back to four of the county’s beloved forests this summer. We appreciate there’s still more work to be done but we continue to ask for their understanding.

“The great news is Northumberland’s forests are recovering and work is well underway and we are pleased to be able to start welcoming visitors to Hepburn, Wooler Common, Wark, Fourlaws, Falstone, Slaley forests as well as Kielder Water and Forest Park and we are working towards all Northumberland woodlands being 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.

Councillor John Riddle, Northumberland County Council Cabinet Member responsible for Local Services, added: “This is a great example of partnership working, bringing organisations and people together to ensure everyone can have a safe and enjoyable summer in our county – whether that’s our fantastic forests, our stunning coastline and everything in between.”

Graham Perry, Director of Kielder Water & Forest Park said, “It’s been a terrific team effort by all the partners at Kielder to get the Lakeside Way reopened in time for the school summer holidays. This is a very special place and we want people to have fun whilst also helping us protect our stunning countryside.”

Margaret Anderson, Senior Ranger at Northumberland National Park added: “If you’re planning to visit Northumberland National Park this summer, we strongly advise you check northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk before you travel. Forestry England also keeps an up-to-date list of which Forestry sites are open at forestryengland.uk.

“Simonside has always been a popular place to visit in the National Park, but the forest and Forest England car park there remain closed for now. The National Park is a living, working landscape. We ask that visitors don’t park on verges, in front of gates and entrances or anywhere on the road where you will block access for local communities and emergency vehicles.

“There are lots of beautiful places in the National Park to explore, please check information and plan before you travel to get the most from your visit.”

Andrew Fox, Chair of Visit Northumberland, added: “Following the reopening of several of the county’s forests and trails we are expecting an increase in visitor numbers over the coming summer months.

“While we’re looking forward to welcoming all our visitors we’d just remind people to behave responsibly and love Northumberland like it’s your own so everyone can enjoy all it has to offer.”