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Explore Hamsterley Forest
(Average user rating: 5 unrated 4.3/5)

Latest News (15/08/2016 15:13)

The Forest Drive will be closed 400 metres east of the Grove Car Park for essential maintenance until the end of September. During this time, the Forest Drive will be a no through road. Access 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. Please note, there will also be trail diversions. Currently, the blue MTB trail, red MTB trail and Three Becks Walk (orange) are diverted. Please obey all warning signage and do not cross through the fencing around the worksite. Do not risk your own safety and that of others by taking short cuts.

Colour rating today: gone yellow gone yellow

Autumn in your local forest

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!


Stickman Trail is here!

Stickman needs your help to return to the family tree. A brand new Forest web page 150x98pxStickman activity trail has been launched which will be on site until the autumn. Activity packs cost £3 and will be available from the cafe and information point on weekends and school holidays until Easter, then daily 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 adventure play 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....

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?

3 Stars 3 Stars

Lovely Forrest but beware while the diversions are in place. We followed the blue cycle trail with our 2 young children, fully prepared for a more lengthy ride and aware diversions were in place on this route but we didn't expect to spend 5 hours in the Forrest trying to get back to the visitors centre. At one point the diversions just disappear and we were just met with 'road closed' signs. I know this wasn't just our error as we met other people at the same spot with the same issue and also with children in their group. We all made our way along the only track available which was not in any way rideable for a 5 and 7 year old. I did complain to the visitors centre and the gentleman was very apologetic but I just hope the diversions are made clearer as that could prove dangerous for young families.

Anonymous, 16/Aug/2016

Sorry to hear you found it difficult to navigate around the road closure. We have recently increased the prominence of the diversion signage which will hopefully reduce any confusion. It is hoped the road will be re-opened to non-vehicular access by the start of September.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Lovely place to take our 2 year old son, the short walk past the Gruffalo is perfect for him & the play areas are brilliant, the place is always clean & tidy. 5 is a small price to pay for all of this.

The only slight issue I have is I wish people wouldn't allow dogs to run free around the play areas.

Anonymous, 8/Aug/2016
5 Stars 5 Stars

only one thing let my family down, was the size of the stickman. We were expecting the stickman to be the size of the Gruffalo.

sandra swindells, 8/Aug/2016
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Last updated: 23rd August 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.