Explore Hamsterley Forest
(Average user rating: 5 unrated 4.2/5)

Latest News (14/04/2014 12:04)

The Grove Link will be closed from 22 April due to forestry operations. The Blue, Red and Black cycle trails will be diverted at times during this period. The Yellow walking trail will be closed for the duration of the work. Please follow diversions and heed all warning signs.

The following upcoming events will cause some trail closures: 19 April, British Cycling event; 26 April, Tour of Hamsterley rally (closure of forest north and west of Grove Car Park).

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.

GruffaloOh help! Oh no! Its the Gruffalo!

We've teamed up with the Gruffalo to help celebrate his 15th birthday. Sign up to be the first to hear about our celebrations.


The information point, where you can pick up maps and leaflets, is open 9am-5pm daily. The cafe will be open weekends only for the winter plus February half-term week (11am-4pm), reverting back to daily opening on 5 April. Wood n Wheels cycle hire is open weekends and school holidays only (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 daily in October and at weekends throughout the rest of the year plus Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Please note the cafe will reopen following refurbishment on Saturday 5th April.

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?

3 Stars 3 Stars

I came today for first time and love the place but must say the cycle routes are very poorly signed and I honestly got list a couple of times and unaware of what colour route I was on or which way to turn next and this really did put a dampner on whole experience and after asking people the way a few times I know I am not the only one who feels this way . I'm sure you put a lot of effort into looking after forest and this is something that would not cost agreat deal to correct and would really make it so much easier and enjoyable I hope you take these comments on board and please try to do something about it as I know it would be greatly appreciated by myself and I'm sure many others .

Mark, 13/Apr/2014
1 Star 1 Star

the callendar is absolutely useless no mention of Northern downhills event on Sunday.. we went a long way only to have to turn around as Transmission was OOb's get your calendar sorted!! oh and the cafe was closed sso mum couldn't get her cake?

Dave Whisler, 31/Mar/2014

Sorry the closure of this trail section affected your day out in the forest. Yes, this event was not on the calendar and we will make sure events that affect the trails are put on in future - please also read 'latest news' which features trail closures. The cafe was open serving takeaways only and cakes were available for mums!

Forestry Commission Response

Some 40 years ago my great aunt Caroline Greenwell arranged with Mr Walton, the warder at the time, for me and my brother to be able to fish on the Spurlswood between Blackling hole and the bridge downstream of Greenless hole. I realised at the time how lucky I was to be able to fish the beck. At the age of 53 I would really like the chance to revisit the stream and fish it again. Are there any plans to permit catch and release angling for the wild brown trout in the streams running through the forest in the near future? I presume by the lack of publicity and the fact that I have seen so few anglers in the forest that day tickets are not available at present. I would be grateful for a response

Paul Tyreman, 12/Mar/2014

Fishing is not permitted on the streams in the forest for conservation reasons. The becks are one of the best spawning grounds for salmon in the North of England.

Forestry Commission Response
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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


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