A LANDOWNER has pleaded with the public to help protect a popular beauty spot blighted by litter and social gatherings.

The Linnel and Swallowship Wood area, near Hexham, has experienced an increase in visitors during the lockdown period, but not all have treated the picturesque surroundings with care.

The landowner, who wished to remain anonymous, described the amount of litter left by groups of people as “the most awful mess”.

“It’s a very well known beauty spot,” she said. “There have been people going down there for years and loving it, but it’s a small percentage of people that abuse it.”

Photographs shared on social media showed a number of abandoned tents and rubbish strewn throughout the wood and its waterways.

“The police came last Wednesday and flattened it, but it’s on private land so we are responsible for clearing it,” the landowner added. “That was not an easy task at all.

“I have never seen so many bottles and wet wipes with human faeces. The tents were left with air mattresses in them.

“I find it so tragic that people who walk down to Swallowship Rock can leave such a mess.

“It’s the lack of respect that ruins it for everybody else.”

Although the area is within private land, the landowner said they have always encouraged people to explore the area.

She added: “It’s never been our policy to stop people enjoying that particular spot. I just hope people will respect it more.

“I would ask people who walk down there to please take a bag with them and take any rubbish home with them.

“The area will lose its beauty if it continues to be filled with rubbish.”

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said officers visited the area last Wednesday and offered advice and support to the landowner.