Discovery Pass

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

Colour rating today: turned golden turned golden

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. 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.

Gruffalo’s Child Trails Gruffalo's Child Trail at Hamsterley!

If you enjoyed the Gruffalo Trail, you'll love the Gruffalo Child's Trail, which will be coming to our forest from Friday 3rd October. Sign up to hear more about our plans.


The information point, where you can pick up maps and leaflets, is open 9am-5pm daily. The cafe will be open daily (10am-5pm) until the end of October, then weekends only during the winter. Wood n Wheels cycle hire is open daily until the first weekend in September (10am-5pm).

Had a fantastic time in the forest recently? Upload your photos of your day out for a chance to win a Durham VIP Pass!

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.

Sky Rainforest Rescue trail

Try the Sky Rainforest Rescue Discovery Trail and learn more about the rainforest and how you can help protect it. Look out for the jaguar and listen to the sounds of the rainforest along the way.

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.

Calling all young adventurers! 

Climb, swing, crawl, balance through the adventure play area before setting off on a real adventure in the wilds of the forest. Explore secluded dells, build a forest hideaway or a forest!

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 throughout the season (Apr-Sept), the cafe serves soup, hot and cold sandwiches, and a range of drinks and home-baked cakes. The cafe is open 11am to 4pm (5pm at weekends) in October and December up to Christmas. The cafe is also open weekends throughout the rest of the year plus Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Education and Learning

Information for schools and groups on organising a visit to the forest. This year, OASES in partnership with Forestry Commission, will be running a full programme of school and group activities.  

What do other visitors say?

1 Star 1 Star

Went to hamsterly today and loved it but on a bank holiday you pay extra to park which is absolutely disgusting, when I asked why I was told it was to pay for the extra staff. Right why have extra staff they are not needed for one,two you don't need anyone at the toll gate because you can use the pay machine and three I only seen one extra staff member and he was telling ppl why they had to pay extra what's the point there was no one patrolling about to check tickets on cars. So please someone explain to me what the extra money is for

anon, 25/Aug/2014

The Bank Holiday admission rate has been in place for 4 years and helps us cover the cost of managing the site on these very busy weekends. This not only covers extra staff for duties such as litter collection but also includes additional cleaning for toilets and provision of a skip to deal with the rubbish accumulated on site over the weekend. It is also worth noting that the admission fees have not changed since 2007 and you can visit on other less busy weekends for 3 per car or purchase a Discovery Pass for 40 which allows free entry all year (including Bank Holidays).

Forestry Commission Response
3 Stars 3 Stars

We had a great day out with godchildren at the gruffalo trail on Saturday kids loved every minute was good fun finding animals and gruffalo don't think there is any need to increase car parking on a bank holiday weekend from ■3 to ■5

Maureen, 24/Aug/2014
5 Stars 5 Stars

As a family we regularly visit. My grandchildren love to play in the river and I love to walk the dog. Shame some people have to spoil things and leave their litter (we actually picked some up and took it home ourselves). Only gripe I have is the extra charge on a bank holiday that I hadn't brought enough money for last year. 2 disappointed boys! Apart from that you'd be hard pushed to be bored.

Pauline, 19/Aug/2014
More user comments

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Be a forest hero

What's Here?

  • Baby Changing
  • Cycling
  • Mountain biking
  • Cycle wash
  • Horse riding
  • Information
  • Play area
  • Telephone
  • Walking
  • Visitor centre
  • Toliets (gents)
  • Toliets (ladies)
  • Cafe
  • Open 11am-4pm daily until 4 November, weekends and school holidays after this date until Easter 2013.
  • Cycling Hire
  • Information on opening times for WoodnWheels cycle hire, please call 0191 3783753
  • Dogs
  • There are no dog bins provided in the forest. Please take all bagged dog waste home with you or 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)
  • 3 per day per car (5 on Bank Holiday weekends), 8 minibus, 12 coach
More about what's here


OS Grid ref: NZ091312

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 22 Dec-1 Jan inclusive.
3 per day per car (5 on Bank Holiday weekends), 8 minibus, 12 coach
Discovery Pass

Related documents

Useful sites

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification certifiedenjoy England quality assured visitor attractionForest Stewardship Council certified