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Explore Hamsterley Forest
(Average user rating: 3 unrated 3/5)

Latest News (26/07/2016 16:55)

The Forest Drive will be closed 400 metres east of the Grove Car Park for essential maintenance from Monday 13 June for up to 12 weeks. 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 cycle trail follows a shorter diverted route (2.5miles) while the red cycle and Three Becks Walk (orange) are both 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. On Sunday 31st July, the Forest Drive beyond the Play area car park will be temporarily closed to non-resident traffic between 11am and 11.30am for the start of the Butterwick Hospice 10K run.

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?

1 Star 1 Star

Terrible waymarking. Closed trails in the height of summer. Confusing and/or missing signs directed me onto a black route. Fire road back to the visitor centre. Utter waste of time and money.

All staff were friendly and helpful, but the trails themselves are a disappointment.

Benjamin, 25/Jul/2016

Sorry to read you have had such a disappointing visit. Essential bridge work has caused the closure of the forest Drive, however all walking and cycling trails remain open. Three trails do have diversions around the work, the signage for which may have caused you confusion. We will check all these again to ensure they are still there and pointing in the appropriate direction.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

A great place too cool

Jess, 13/Jul/2016

I was so lost today when I encountered the closed road. I looked at the diversion map which was on the railings blocking the way. The diversion signs ran out very quickly. If it hadn't been for a kindly runner I would probably still be there. I use the forest every week and have a yearly pass which I have renewed for the past four years. I do agree with many other walkers that the bikes and kids take presidency.

Carol, 11/Jul/2016

Apologies for any confusion you experienced during your visit. Diversions have been set up for the Three Becks (orange) walk, Blue Cycle and Red Cycle (all of which start at the visitor centre) and lead these three routes past the worksite. Once back on the original route the diversion signs end. We understand that closing the main artery through the forest has caused confusion as the diverted routes are quite long and may not help you get to where you are heading if you aren't following a waymarked route.

Forestry Commission Response
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Last updated: 9th June 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


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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Forest Plans

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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.