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2 Stars 2 Stars

Hamsterley forest is going to be 2 cheaper than elsewhere for the day to park but the the quality of facilities is not to the same standards as other centres around the UK.

T Jones, 13/Mar/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Travelled from Teesside today to do the Gruffalo trail with our 3 year old daughter. We all absolutely loved it and using the app to bring the characters to life made it even better! Plenty to do for all ages and we will definitely make a return visit. Highly recommend Hamsterley Forest for a family day out!

Claire Horn, 5/Mar/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

My 3 children love the gruffalo trail beautiful woods lots to do peaceful environment, clean toilets and great picnic sites. The wooden park is brilliant a really good family day out

Gavin, 28/Jan/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

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

Anonymous, 16/Oct/2016
5 Stars 5 Stars

There most weekends. Bought a Discovery Pass - best value for money you will ever find.

Any Mushroom Forages planned soon?

John, 4/Sep/2016

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.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

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

Anonymous, 23/Aug/2016
3 Stars 3 Stars

Ran over to Hamsterley from Wolsingham entering the forest on the public footpath on Black Hill/Hamsterley Common at NGR NZ038305 where it becomes a public bridleway. Partway down the bridleway there are signs saying not to proceed any further but no alternative or diversion. There is no Highway Closure Order displayed which I beleive would be required assuming that one is in place .............. Having run such a distance we were not going to turn around and go back and the bridleway was clear and only bounded the harvesting area.

It would be so easy to post maps of harvesting areas on your website and clearly show "no go" areas. This would enable people to plan their routes and not end up in difficulties as so many people seem to be doing from the posts here on your site.

We had a clear run back once we had reached Euden Beck but it could so easily have been very awkward.

Geoff Barber, 22/Aug/2016

Sorry for the confusion on your visit. This appears to be signage warning of a forest operations site and we will review signage in this area to avoid future issues.

Forestry Commission Response
3 Stars 3 Stars

Lovely Forrest but beware while the diversions are in place. We followed the blue cycle trail with our 2 young children, fully prepared for a more lengthy ride and aware diversions were in place on this route but we didn't expect to spend 5 hours in the Forrest trying to get back to the visitors centre. At one point the diversions just disappear and we were just met with 'road closed' signs. I know this wasn't just our error as we met other people at the same spot with the same issue and also with children in their group. We all made our way along the only track available which was not in any way rideable for a 5 and 7 year old. I did complain to the visitors centre and the gentleman was very apologetic but I just hope the diversions are made clearer as that could prove dangerous for young families.

Anonymous, 16/Aug/2016

Sorry to hear you found it difficult to navigate around the road closure. We have recently increased the prominence of the diversion signage which will hopefully reduce any confusion. It is hoped the road will be re-opened to non-vehicular access by the start of September.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Lovely place to take our 2 year old son, the short walk past the Gruffalo is perfect for him & the play areas are brilliant, the place is always clean & tidy. 5 is a small price to pay for all of this.

The only slight issue I have is I wish people wouldn't allow dogs to run free around the play areas.

Anonymous, 8/Aug/2016
5 Stars 5 Stars

only one thing let my family down, was the size of the stickman. We were expecting the stickman to be the size of the Gruffalo.

sandra swindells, 8/Aug/2016
1 Star 1 Star

There needs to be different cycle trails to walking trails. Cyclists are a nightmare totally inconsiderate of children.

Anonymous, 31/Jul/2016

Where possible cyclists have their own trail, especially on downhill sections. We are currently building new sections to increase the length of dedicated bike trail. However, complete separation is not always possible (or desirable) and where all users share a trail these are clearly marked and the common sense and decency of individuals is called upon to allow peaceful co-existence.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

I'm a regular user of the red and black mountain bike trails at Hamsterley, those trails have both bike only and shared use sections. In my experience most mountain bikers do ride responsibly on the shared sections, yes there will always be a few idiots who don't, however this applies both ways. There have been many occasions where I've encountered walkers or horse riders on the bike only sections of the trails, often in the process of ascending the descents.

Hamsterley is an amazing forest enjoyed by many different groups of people who all need to respect each other and use the forest responsibly.

Craig Scott, 31/Jul/2016
2 Stars 2 Stars

Sadly, yet again our ride was spoilt by cyclists and their inconsiderate behaviour. Riding at speed, round bends with no visibility, in the middle of the track is highly dangerous. Luckily this time just 2 spooked time an injured rider or worse, a child. The forest seems to cater mainly for cyclists rather than walkers and riders. Families, take care walking on the tracks.

Anonymous, 26/Jul/2016
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
5 Stars 5 Stars

too cool

grate, 8/Jul/2016
5 Stars 5 Stars

What a great day out! The bike trails are really well set up and maintained. Seems to be a lot for families to do. We went on a day when the descend uplift was going on, we rode the red trail then sat watching the downhill mountain bikers for a bit-What a great set up and it looked like really good fun, if only I was 20 years younger and had their nerve! Brilliant to see the forest used for a variety of activities. I would definitely recommend to friends and family. And of course, will visit again!

Liza, 20/Jun/2016
3 Stars 3 Stars

Loved the visitor centre. Great cafe and very nice loos in the car parking area. I agree that 5 is excessive to park. We were walking and though we had a great walk, the signage for the walks was not good. The visitor centre map was ok but it's difficult to get your bearings in a forest and therefore clear way markers would help. We did wonder if mountain biking was the priority.

Anne Henderson, 17/Jun/2016

Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately, providing and managing the upkeep of toilets, café, parking areas, play equipment and trails does cost money, to which your car parking fee is a contribution. All our visitors are important, not just mountain bikers which is why this year we are making further investments in play equipment for our younger visitors.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

Been years since I've been last and the place looks great. Shame about the tyre damage to the tracks and the silly parking charges. 5 for anything over an hour is just greed.

Dave, 6/Jun/2016

Thank you for comments and I'm pleased you think the work we have undertaken to improve the visitor experience has been worthwhile. Unfortunately, managing a site such as Hamsterley does cost money and far from being greedy the income from parking charges only provides a contribution to overall costs of managing the site. Don't forget that Hamsterley is not just managed for recreation access but for wildlife and timber also. As the charge is per car, it still only works out as £1.25 each for a family of four. In addition, we also have an annual Discovery Pass for regular visitors.

Forestry Commission Response

Overpriced parking dog muck all over the play area abusive cyclists dirty nappies and dog muck bags all over stick man trail

Nature doesn't seems to matter . Miserable cafe staff . After 30 years of visits i wont be back

Anonymous, 4/Jun/2016

Thank you for your comments. I'm sorry and somewhat surprised the level of dog muck on the play area and Stickman trail were as you described on your visit. The play trail and play areas are checked and cleaned daily and over the past year we have noticed a sharp decline in the amount of dog mess found. This is in part due to the installation of dog bins at either end of the play trail which we have also dedicated as a 'dogs on lead' zone. We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the play areas remain safe and pleasant zones for children to enjoy.

Forestry Commission Response

Love walking my to get far out away from the bike riders who think they own the place...most are polite...however even father out I was verbally abused when a speeding 35/40 mph at a guess ...sped passed .... what is this place coming too?

John, 15/May/2016

An amazing place to be...usually best through the week as weekend full of abusive cyclists going too fast and rude if you signal to slow down. One nearly hit my child as he was at a speed he couldn't slow down.....what a shame the place is slowly getting worse.....

Enjoy while you can.

Anonymous, 15/May/2016
4 Stars 4 Stars

First visit for cycling, did the red routes, what a brilliant combination of single track, climbs, spectacular scenery, then the play parks, we did Transmission, Accelerator and Nitreous. Congratulations to the CRT manager and cycle route design team. We were disappointed at the debris of plastic drink bottles and inner tubes discarded by cyclists along some of the routes. Not a good advert for environmental respect from forest users.

Kim Watt, 17/Apr/2016
3 Stars 3 Stars

Been coming to the Forest for over 40 year as a child myself and a mother and grandmother, been there recently and must say I'm shocked at the damage the bikes are doing to the tracks, it's do dangerous in some places wormholes flying all over, and some of the riders are so rude, it's not a pleasure to come for a walk now as you have to dodge he bikes, it's spoilt now as nature has taken a back seat to bikes, very sad,

Sharon Black, 11/Apr/2016
5 Stars 5 Stars

Visit at least twice a month and thoroughly enjoy every visit. Lots of new play areas for children to enjoy. Being a senior citizen I find the walking trails a joy but was dismayed to find seat overlooking meadow no longer there. This was a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by and have a rest

Anonymous, 11/Apr/2016

We will be installing new benches and picnic tables over the coming months and replacing the damaged bench next to the meadow is one of those on the agenda.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

We always enjoy forest but took kids on stick man trail and I think we were quite dissapointed that there isn't a large stick man at the end,it would be gud if this could be made thanks

H, 10/Apr/2016
1 Star 1 Star

went to hamsterly forest today for the first time in a good few years. Took my 8 month puppy and two older dogs. I was disgusted at how very little area we had to let our dogs off of the leader. all of the parts of the river we used to go in and play with our dogs it much more accessible now with children's play trails where we then can't let them off the leader. The whole family is vey disappointed that after a two hour walk we could only let our dogs off for ten minutes. Maybe there should be for trails for dogs for no bikes and children at the parents decision. My dogs are not vicious in anyway and would never hurt children. Just very disappointed in the change hamsterly.

what happened to hamsterly being dog friendly? , 10/Apr/2016

Sorry to read you were disappointed in your visit to the forest. The 'dogs on lead' area is a relatively small zone on both sides of the river between the bridge below the visitor centre and the next bridge upstream at the main play area - a total of 800m or 1/2 mile of path. The rest of the forest walking trail network is available for dogs to be walked off lead as long as they are under control.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

brilliant place to visit , ive noticed a lot more for the younger ones to play on this year, you can walk or cycle at all levels and easily spend a full day .visits to the web site will tell you of any forthcoming events ,my little ones always liked splashing about in the stream when possible , lots to do, take a ball , take a bike , walking boots , picnic ,fishing net to list but a few. I recommend the discovery pass if you visit often enough.

mr michael smith, 7/Apr/2016
5 Stars 5 Stars

This place is great and has come on leaps and bounds in the eight years I've been visiting. I use the forest trails for running and mountain biking, both are excellent and worth the trip from further afield (wasn't always the case for mountain biking but now is).

The staff work hard to keep the place tidy and it really shows. Keep up the good work!

Local motorists on the forest drive are courteous if you're out on foot or bike.

If you have kids the children's play areas will keep them entertained for at least a few hours and then there's the wider forest to explore.

The only comment I'd make is that the otherwise excellent cafe was a little cramped the one time I used it (I can understand the need to maximize the number of seats), but to be honest I'd rather be outside!

A discovery pass is a must for regular visitors.

Cheaper than therapy, 6/Apr/2016

Hi can you tell me your policy on dog waste ? Im confused i always picked up and was then informed not to by a warden . I was told to kock it into the forest as so many peopke were leaving discarded poo bags. Thank again

Confused, 5/Apr/2016

To clarify, this is what we would like you to do with your dog's waste: 1. Bag it and bin it in the dog bins around the children's play trail or 2. Bag it and take it home for disposal or 3. If out in the wider forest, use a stick and flick it into deep undergrowth (such as nettle or bramble) where people unlikely to walk/play

Forestry Commission Response
1 Star 1 Star

Firstly, let me set this straight; the 1* rating is purely for the tea room (as they like to call it) and not for the forest itself. If it wasn't for what we experienced today by a certain waitress in the cafe, then this review would definitely be 5*.

We arrived today at lunch time (27th March - Easter Sunday) so decided before we set off with out nearly 2 year old little girl on the stick man trail, we'll go and eat our lunch somewhere in the forest. However, the weather decided to knock all plans on the head and the heavens opened. We took shelter in the annex part of the 'tea room' and made sure our little girl was dry and comfortable, as any good parent would.

Having a picnic area directly outside the door and garden-like furnishings inside the annex, we presumed we'd be able to eat our packed lunch there.

We began to eat our lunch. Suddenly, the cafe door swung open and a waitress in a very rude, loud and bolshy manner said "can you put your food away. You can't eat your own food in here. Look, there's a sign (pointed to a very poorly place and badly typed up A4 poster). You'll have to put it away or eat elsewhere' and as quick as that, closed the door again and went back in the cafe leaving us very embarrassed because the volume of her voice caused the crowd in the annex to stop and look at us. She never gave us a fraction of a second to begin to explain our situation.

A very angry Mammy! , 27/Mar/2016

Sorry to hear your trip did not live up to expectations due to an incident in the cafe. I do know that on Sunday the cafe was very busy and there was a queue for tables hence why you were asked not to eat your own food at their tables. If you would like to discuss the incident further with the cafe manager, please forward your contact details to the email address on this page and we will pass this on so you receive a personal reply.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

We had a lovely visit on Good Friday however it was marred by the ridiculous parking arrangements. Having been waved past the payment machine on entry by one of your employees, we were given no guidance as to where to park and ended up in a field with no payment machine or instructions on how to pay. Returning to our car we found a parking ticket warning us of further fines if it wasn't paid. We had no intention of not paying. Clear instructions could have avoided us leaving with a ' sour taste'. It was not a welcoming attitude to any visitors and ruined a lovely day.

Anonymous, 26/Mar/2016

Thank you for your feedback which we will take on board for future exceptionally busy days. The staff waving you past the toll point at the entrance were doing so to prevent a traffic jam on the entrance road. They should have also informed you of the payment options available once you had parked. We'll make sure this information is passed on in future.

Forestry Commission Response
2 Stars 2 Stars

Great day out to do your own thing but if you want to go to any of the events then expect to pay exorbitant prices!

Anonymous, 14/Mar/2016
5 Stars 5 Stars

Just got my annual pass (best 40 you can send) and I will be on a mission to locate benches (commemorative or other) within the forest.

I try and use these benches as a place to have a break half way through a walk in the forest.

So far I have found the following:

54 39 43.9 N 1 57 34.89 W

54 40 41.32 N 1 53 50.17 W

54 38 34.01 N 1 57 43.54 W

54 38 28.24 N 1 56 35.10 W

54 40 07.39 N 1 52 38.76 W

54 40 08.61 N 1 52 55.47 W

Is anyone aware of any others?



John Brown, 12/Feb/2016
5 Stars 5 Stars

Had a great time there Today we went to do the stick man trail. A lot longer than the gruffalo trail. It was nice to see the Gruffalo's child as when we did the Gruffalo trail that wasn't there. We thought we were doing great on the trail but we couldn't find the swan picture. I went back round again to see if we missed it but still couldn't find it. I assumed it was near the bridge and it has broken off. We still had a great time. My Daughter loved walking in the mud and it was a lovely family day out. We will be back again and again.

Anonymous, 7/Feb/2016
4 Stars 4 Stars

We just had a lovely day with the family. Our children had a great time running, climbing exploring the forest. We also took our dog who had a great time too. The superworm trail was fun & the children loved it!

Hayley , 19/Oct/2015

Bought a walking stick from there at a very nice price also spoke to the gentleman who makes them, they alll look very nice, i do recommend people looking for one to use or just to show to have a look in the cafeteria where they are placed.

Anonymous, 15/Oct/2015

Hi I was wondering if you are doin a Santa this year

Anonymous, 6/Oct/2015
2 Stars 2 Stars

Dog owners don't respect that the childrens play area is a dog free zone. Allowing them to run freely off leads around chilren playing in the park. The childrens superworm trail again dogs off leads running free approaching families with young children. Picnic again children couldn't relax pestered by dogs. There is no safe environment for children to walk, play or eat. (Rubbish left by visitors in the toilets and carpark, and the cafe serving bottles of orange juice best before June 2015. Only 3 months out of date)

Mark, 20/Sep/2015

Sorry to hear your visit was spoiled by the thoughtless actions of a few dog owners. We have created a dogs on lead zone between the two bridges nearest the visitor centre, so it is disappointing to hear this and the dog free play area signage is being ignored. We will continue to work with visitors with dogs to ensure they are aware of the need to manage their dog responsibly and thoughtfully. Your comments re orange juice will be raised with the cafe.

Forestry Commission Response

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