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Explore Hamsterley Forest
(Average user rating: 4 unrated 3.7/5)

Latest News (27/10/2016 14:07)

The main toilet block will be closed from Mon 7 to Fri 11 November for the construction of new decking and step access. During this time limited facilities will be provided via disabled toilet.

Update: The Forest Drive will remain closed to vehicles 400 metres east of the Grove Car Park for essential maintenance until the end of November. During this time, the Forest Drive will be a no through road. Access by vehicle to car parks east of the closure will be via Bedburn main entrance. To visit facilities west of the closure, access will be via Grove Road. Trails affected by the Forest drive closure are now fully open and on their original routes.

Hamsterley Forest is a delightful 2000 hectare oasis, sprawling along the sides of a sheltered valley. Visitors to Hamsterley have no shortage of options when it comes to forest adventure or a tranquil getaway from the hustles of modern living.

From wildlife watching and dark sky gazing to adventure play and high octane mountain biking, there is something here for everyone. Go on, explore!

Hamsterley Forest is one of Durham's most popular visitor destinations. To ensure that this continues, the Forestry Commission has commissioned a report from independent consultants on the status and potential of Hamsterley Forest for visitors. Read more.

Ride the Super 6

Super6webgraphic6 amazing forests in 6 breath-taking locations. Chopwell, Gisburn, Grizedale, Hamsterley, Kielder, Whinlatter are the Super 6! Grab your bike and discover our exhilarating trails!


Autumn at Hamsterley Forest

Autumn thumbnails

Make the most of the spectacular colours of autumn! Our forest hosts one of the top 10 autumn walks, so you'll experience spectacular colours throughout your visit.

Stickman Trail & Gruffalo Orienteering is here!

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Stickman needs your help to return to the family tree. A brand new Stickman activity trail has been launched which will be on site until the New Year. Activity packs cost £3 and will be available from the cafe and information point weekdays until the end of October then weekends until the end of January. Brand new this autumn for those wanting to venture off the beaten track is Gruffalo Orienteering. Maps are available from the cafe and information point daily during October half-term week then at weekends after that date.


The information point, where you can pick up maps and leaflets, is open 9am-5pm daily (4pm Nov-Feb inclusive). Please note that the information point at times is unstaffed. The cafe will be open daily from March to end of october (10am-5pm) and then weekends and school holidays only at other times. Wood n Wheels cycle hire is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday (10am-5pm), and also daily during school holidays. 

Explore on foot

The walking trails will take you right into the heart of the forest for some spectacular wildlife watching opportunities. Early morning walkers may spot roe deer feeding, adders basking on rocks or even salmon leaping upstream on the beck.

Explore by bike

Hamsterley is one of the top destinations for mountain biking in Northern England. Hone your skills on our training loop before exploring the wide network of trails, from blue grade right up to extreme downhill trails at Descend Hamsterley. Bikes available to hire from Hamsterley Forest Cycle Centre.

Calling all young adventurers! 

Climb, swing, crawl, balance along the Viking Wildplay trail before setting off on a real adventure in the wilds of the forest. Explore secluded dells, build a forest hideaway or a forest! New for 2016 are some brilliant new Viking themed play areas, including the Ghostship, Dragon Swing, Thor's Workshop and Odin's keep. News of upcoming developments here.

Explore on four legs 

Miles of waymarked horse riding trails through the high forest

What's on?

Check out what's happening at Hamsterley using our calendar of events in the forest over the coming months.

Food and drink

After all that exercise in the fresh air, why not sample some of Hamsterley Forest Cafe's famous cakes? Open from 10am to 5pm daily until 31st October, the cafe serves soup, hot and cold sandwiches, and a range of drinks and home-baked cakes.

Education and Learning

LOtC-site-logo.jpgHamsterley Forest has been awarded a CLOtC Site Provider Award. The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) is the national voice for learning outside the classroom. This award recognises organisations which actively welcome schools onto their site/s for self-led visits and ensure that the sites and any other services provided meet the needs of schools. 

Led sessions for schools and other groups are also available to be booked with our learning partner OASES.  


What do other visitors say?

5 Stars 5 Stars

Fantastic day out.stunning scenery we did the stickman trail with our two sons they thoroughly enjoy it and spotted the gruffalo and gruffalo's child. It's a flat route so in the summer months accessable with a pushchair. Lovely big wooden play areas with picnic tables dotted around great for spring and summer months to bring a picnic.As its Autumn and we have had our fair share of wet weather the forest was quite muddy with lots of puddles so expect to get a bit dirty...although this did not stop our boys enjoying themselves but it's a great time of year to see the autumnal colours of the trees.later in the day we wandered in the caf the staff were very friendly and despite being the end of the day were still happy to serve us tea/coffee and any of the delicious cakes on offer also the toilets on site were clean. Overall a great place to visit we will definitely be visit again

Anonymous, 16/Oct/2016
5 Stars 5 Stars

There most weekends. Bought a Discovery Pass - best value for money you will ever find.

Any Mushroom Forages planned soon?

John, 4/Sep/2016

Sorry, there are no fungal forays planned this autumn at Hamsterley. However, there is one scheduled at Chopwell Wood (near Rowlands Gill) on Sunday 25 September.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Brilliant day out with kids hunting gruffalo, Everyone enjoyed themselves. easy to follow trail nice flat paths for the pram. all the staff polite and helpful. plenty of parking and picnic tables. would of liked to buy the kids stickman/gruffalo merchandise at the end of day

Anonymous, 23/Aug/2016
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Last updated: 22nd October 2016

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What's Here?

  • Baby Changing
  • Cycling
  • Mountain biking
  • Horse riding
  • Information
  • Play area
  • Running
  • Telephone
  • Walking
  • Visitor centre
  • Toliets (gents)
  • Toliets (ladies)
  • Cafe
  • Open daily 10am-5pm March to end October; 11am-4pm weekends only November to end February (in addition, open daily between Christmas & New Year and February half-term holiday week).
  • Cycling Hire
  • Information on opening times for Hamsterley Forest Cycle Centre (operated by WoodnWheels), please call 0191 3783753
  • Cycle wash
  • Tokens available from Wood n Wheels and Hamsterley Cafe
  • Dogs
  • There are dog bins provided next to the bridges either side of the Gruffalo and play trail. Please bin all bagged dog waste in this area or if in the wider forest, flick unbagged waste off the paths and into the undergrowth. Don't give your dog a bad name!
  • Easy Access
  • Riverside Trail from main car park to Low Redford picnic area falls within requirements for wheelchair accessibility in terms of gradient and surface.
  • Educational
  • Riverside Trail from main car park to Low Redford picnic area falls within requirements for wheelchair accessibility in terms of gradient and surface.
  • Forest drive
  • Toll Road
  • Orienteering
  • Permanent orienteering course with 28 control points available for educational use via a booking system. Maps are on sale in the tearoom priced at 1.25
  • Parking (easy access)
  • Designated parking bays at main toilet block, Bedburn car park
  • Parking (chargeable)
  • 1.50 one hour short stay (car/motorbike only); All Day rates - 5 car/motorbike, 10 minibus, 15 coach
More about what's here


OS Grid ref: NZ091312
Postcode: DL13 3NL

Get directions


Hamsterley Forest

01388 488312

Opening & Parking

Opening Times:
From 1 April to 30 September, barriers on the forest drive and car parks are open from 8am-8pm and from 8am-5pm outside of these months. Access to the forest on foot 24 hours a day. Over Christmas period, car parks and toilets open as usual. Forest Drive closed 24 Dec-2 Jan inclusive.
1.50 one hour short stay (car/motorbike only); All Day rates - 5 car/motorbike, 10 minibus, 15 coach
Discovery Pass

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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.