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?
Graeme Measor, 16/Apr/2017
Was planning to visit the forest today for the first time, but was put off by the thought of being ripped off to the tune of a tenner just to park my vehicle.
Forestry Commission Response
Please remember there is no further charge to use any of the facilities, so view the parking charge as an admission charge. For a family of four this is £2.50 each on a bank holiday. Or a Discovery Pass at £45 for a year means you can visit as often as you wish.
3 StarsJonathan Bennett, 15/Apr/2017
Lovely place for walkers and bikers, however too many dog owners allow there dogs to just run wild on the trails which is not only inconsiderate to others trail users, its just dangerous to bikers. We all want to enjoy the forest and that is fine but there either needs to separate trails for walkers and bikers or dogs should be on leads at all times and this should be a must!!!!
3 StarsAndy, 15/Apr/2017
Amazing forest with great facilities however be prepared to be disappointed and well out of pocket for parking on Bank holidays. It cost us 10 for 2hours parking making it by far the most expensive I've paid at any forestry comission car park I've ever visted.