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!
From February 24th, follow clues and collect evidence as you search for the Gruffalo along the Gruffalo Spotters trail! Bring the characters to life before your eyes with The Gruffalo Spotter free app, or gather clues with an Evidence Kit. More details for Hamsterley Forest
Brand new this autumn for those wanting to venture off the beaten track and learn map skills;is Gruffalo Orienteering. Maps are also available from the cafe and information point and cost £1.50
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 StarsAndrew, 20/Apr/2017
This is my new favourite place. Where else can you have all of these outstanding facilities all for just 6 parking? A great family day out. Thank you Hamsterley!
2 StarsKayla, 18/Apr/2017
I was shocked at the 6 parking fee to walk through an area near the cottages ruins that looked like a scrap yard. The was litter everywhere a car wheel, car mats, large plastic guards, empty oil drum, exhaust. I was very shocked and the amour of rubbish. I would not recommend that part of the forest to people. I'm sure the people living in the house at the top must hear 4x4s going past. And it cost me 6 to walk through it
Forestry Commission Response
Sorry to read about the rubbish which you found near the byway open to all traffic. This is effectively a public highway and the rubbish will have been left by vehicles attempting to use it. This trail has been walked today and any litter found has been recovered.
Miranda Blackman, 18/Apr/2017
Please make the Gruffalo trail a 'no cycle' zone . Mountain bikers at speed and toddlers are not a good combination.
Forestry Commission Response
Where possible, cycle routes are kept separate from the main walking routes. However, around the main visitor area this is not always possible. We have highlighted this issue amongst cycling groups on social media and had a positive response and will continue to monitor cycle use on the ground.