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 & Gruffalo Orienteering is here!
Stickman needs your help to return to the family tree. The Stickman activity trail will be on site until Sunday 5 February. Activity packs cost £3 and will be available from the cafe and information point weekdays during December then weekends until February. Brand new this autumn for those wanting to venture off the beaten track is Gruffalo Orienteering. Maps are also available from the cafe and information point and cost £1.50
Stargazing in Hamsterley Forest
Experience stars in the night sky like never before when visiting Hamsterley Forest after dark this winter. Start at the visitor centre and try our "Why stars matter" trail to see why we hold Dark Sky Discovery status and are amongst the top stargazing sites in the country. You can find the start point at the is Visitor Centre, following the Riverside Trail.
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), daily in December (11am-4pm) and then weekends and school holidays at other times. Wood n Wheels cycle hire is open 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 Viking Wildplay 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. News of upcoming developments here.
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 weekends from 11am to 4pm and then daily from 18 February until 31 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 StarsAnonymous, 16/Oct/2016
Fantastic day out.stunning scenery we did the stickman trail with our two sons they thoroughly enjoy it and spotted the gruffalo and gruffalo's child. It's a flat route so in the summer months accessable with a pushchair. Lovely big wooden play areas with picnic tables dotted around great for spring and summer months to bring a picnic.As its Autumn and we have had our fair share of wet weather the forest was quite muddy with lots of puddles so expect to get a bit dirty...although this did not stop our boys enjoying themselves but it's a great time of year to see the autumnal colours of the trees.later in the day we wandered in the caf the staff were very friendly and despite being the end of the day were still happy to serve us tea/coffee and any of the delicious cakes on offer also the toilets on site were clean. Overall a great place to visit we will definitely be visit again
5 StarsJohn, 4/Sep/2016
There most weekends. Bought a Discovery Pass - best value for money you will ever find.
Any Mushroom Forages planned soon?
Forestry Commission Response
Sorry, there are no fungal forays planned this autumn at Hamsterley. However, there is one scheduled at Chopwell Wood (near Rowlands Gill) on Sunday 25 September.
5 StarsAnonymous, 23/Aug/2016
Brilliant day out with kids hunting gruffalo, Everyone enjoyed themselves. easy to follow trail nice flat paths for the pram. all the staff polite and helpful. plenty of parking and picnic tables. would of liked to buy the kids stickman/gruffalo merchandise at the end of day