Each year, thousands of school children visit Hamsterley Forest to learn more about forests, the wildlife within them and to enjoy themselves in a truly natural and safe environment.
Education providers who are experienced in leading groups in an outdoor setting, are available to book if required. Groups who intend to organise a self-led visit are still required to make contact with the ranger on site and complete a booking form. Please note, parking charges apply whether your group is self-led or led by paid leaders.
Before you visit
It is recommended that before you bring a group to visit the wood, you should organise a pre-visit so you know where to come and what to expect in terms of facilities etc. The ranger will be delighted to meet you on site and answer any questions you may have.
The next step is to complete a booking form with your provider, which should detail meeting times and location, activities to be undertaken and highlight the responsibilities of the group leader and staff leading the activity. For self-led groups, booking forms are available by contacting the Forestry Commission ranger on site.
To help ensure a safe visit, the activity provider will complete a risk assessment for every group visit to the wood, including an assessment of the facilities and the activities to be undertaken. A copy of this is available on request. It is also important that you complete your own risk assessment, as you will be in overall charge of the group. The actions arising from this assessment should include informing parent helpers as well as the children of what standard of clothing and footwear is expected.
Getting to the Forest
Once you are on the coach and heading for the forest you may think nothing can go wrong - but beware, coach drivers have a habit of setting off and following their nose! It is advisable to confirm with the company beforehand that they know exactly where they are going and how long it is likely to take them. Follow the links below and consult the Planning your Visit pages on this site.
Here at Last!
You will be welcomed by the activity provider who will be leading your visit. On request, your group can have exclusive use of the forest classroom for the duration of the visit. The classroom can seat up to thirty-five children and here you can leave your bags, coats and lunches. This is included in the price of the education providers listed below. Where a group is self-led, the group leader can be given access to the classroom by arrangement (a separate charge will apply).
Most of the visit will be spent outside, under the canopy of the forest’s trees. The majority of sessions will involve a walk and a mixture of fun activities and worksheets, during which accompanying teachers and adult helpers will be asked to play an active role. For the majority of sessions, the group will generally be no more that a ten-minute walk from the classroom.
To discuss a group visit or to make a booking, please contact the appropriate site detailed below:
Outdoor and Sustainability Education Service (OASES). OASES is part of Durham County Council's Education Development Service. It's aim is to support schools, young people and other interested organisations by providing a range of projects and services associated with Learning Outside the Classroom and Education for Sustainable Development. At Hamsterley Forest OASES can provide half or full day curriculum-linked sessions.
Groundwork Northeast provide half or full day environmental education sessions to support the 'creative curriculum' approach to teaching and learning. View their full range of activity sessions here.
Teacher training opportunities also available.
For self-led visits, contact: