Hamsterley Forest is a popular destination within Durham attracting around 180,000 visitors per year making it one of the top attractions in the county.
The forest is a great place for families, with a string of favourite picnic spots along the popular Bedburn Beck (stream). There are play areas, the riverside trail, the mountain bike training loop and the more adventurous can head out into the wider 2,000 hectare forest to take in some of the fantastic trails on foot, bike or horse.
Over the last 50 years the forest has been made accessible to the visitor. Some of these developments have seen the creation of forest paths, car parking, picnic sites, the forest centre including the very well used classroom providing an educational backdrop to many visits for young and old.
More recently work with volunteers on both cross country and downhill mountain bike trails has seen a rise in mountain bikers travelling from afar to try out the challenge of the Hamsterley mountain bike trail networks.
Hamsterley Forest has become a centre of excellence for the visitor. To ensure that this continues, the Forestry Commission commissioned a report from independent consultants on the status and potential of Hamsterley Forest for visitors.
The wooden building which is the current Forest Centre is well beyond its useful life, and no longer capable of meeting the needs and aspirations of Hamsterley’s visitors. Consultations with a wide range of stakeholders concluded that the design of a new visitor building should be in keeping with the forest and should not be over designed but should be practical and welcoming for not only the visitor but functional for staff working on the site.
The report summary and plans show the vision for Hamsterley Forest which will improve facilities to meet today’s visitor requirements. We do not yet have the funding to implement the complete vision, so there is no timetable for undertaking the work. We will make incremental progress towards achieving the vision as resources permit.