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?
1 StarBenjamin, 25/Jul/2016
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.
Forestry Commission Response
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.
5 StarsJess, 13/Jul/2016
A great place too cool
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.
Forestry Commission Response
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.