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.
6 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 Stickman 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.
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.
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 beachcomb.....in 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....
Miles of waymarked horse riding trails through the high forest
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.
Hamsterley 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 StarsLiza, 20/Jun/2016
What a great day out! The bike trails are really well set up and maintained. Seems to be a lot for families to do. We went on a day when the descend uplift was going on, we rode the red trail then sat watching the downhill mountain bikers for a bit-What a great set up and it looked like really good fun, if only I was 20 years younger and had their nerve! Brilliant to see the forest used for a variety of activities. I would definitely recommend to friends and family. And of course, will visit again!
3 StarsAnne Henderson, 17/Jun/2016
Loved the visitor centre. Great cafe and very nice loos in the car parking area. I agree that 5 is excessive to park. We were walking and though we had a great walk, the signage for the walks was not good. The visitor centre map was ok but it's difficult to get your bearings in a forest and therefore clear way markers would help. We did wonder if mountain biking was the priority.
Forestry Commission Response
Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately, providing and managing the upkeep of toilets, café, parking areas, play equipment and trails does cost money, to which your car parking fee is a contribution. All our visitors are important, not just mountain bikers which is why this year we are making further investments in play equipment for our younger visitors.
4 StarsDave, 6/Jun/2016
Been years since I've been last and the place looks great. Shame about the tyre damage to the tracks and the silly parking charges. 5 for anything over an hour is just greed.
Forestry Commission Response
Thank you for comments and I'm pleased you think the work we have undertaken to improve the visitor experience has been worthwhile. Unfortunately, managing a site such as Hamsterley does cost money and far from being greedy the income from parking charges only provides a contribution to overall costs of managing the site. Don't forget that Hamsterley is not just managed for recreation access but for wildlife and timber also. As the charge is per car, it still only works out as £1.25 each for a family of four. In addition, we also have an annual Discovery Pass for regular visitors.