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5 Stars 5 Stars

Just been cycling in the forest, you couldn't ask for a more wonderful place to be on such a beautiful autumn day.

Simon, 2/Nov/2017
4 Stars 4 Stars

I visit the forest everyday to walk my dogs. I clean up after them and use the appropriate bins. I have a season pass which is excellent value. However in the ten years that I have been going I have noticed how much of the forest is being given over to MTBs. There appears to be an expectation that we will all give way to them because they have right of way. A lot-though not all-pay little attention to our dogs or the fact that they get spooked by them. A little more thought would go a long way. I do think that allowing your dog to run free shows little understanding or consideration for others including other dog walkers. I dont find it helpful when a dog runs at mine with an owner 200 yards behind saying hes just playing. My dogs dont know this and they are very vulnerable being on a lead.

Still love the place but sometimes it feels like dog walkers and pedestrians are the poor relations.

Ian Gregg, 30/Oct/2017

Moaners about dogs..... It's outside "forest" where else are dog owners supposed to take their dogs... "too many poo bins" are you serious if there wasn't any or enough you'd moan... They Can't win!!.... It's outside stop helicoptering your children and let them experience nature which also means animals I. E. Dogs are animals and get a grip.... Take them to a fun house if you only want children around....

Anonymous, 15/Oct/2017

So often the case, can't find a park where my daughter is happy to enjoy without dogs. Why take your dog to a kids play park???

Anonymous, 23/Sep/2017

The play trail is a designated 'dogs on lead' zone. I am sorry to read that some visitors with dogs are not respecting this requirement.

Forestry Commission Response
2 Stars 2 Stars

Visited today in a family group with 4 grandchildren. Loved the play parks and trails but too many dogs and many not on leads and in the play areas. Owners as so often is the case ignoring the signs. Won't bring them here again. Will play safely in the garden. No litter bins. We had to put litter in the dog poo bins of which there were many probably not needed as with dogs roaming free they could poo without their owners having to even see it.

PM, 31/Jul/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

This was definitely the best school trip I've ever been on. Every child had a fantastic time.

Tracy Huntingdon, 14/Jul/2017
4 Stars 4 Stars

Decided to visit after not being for a few years and thought it was great for us as a family with a dog. Play areas are fantastic. Parking prices aren't extortionate. My son complained of no gift shop and there was no hot water at the toilets. Could have done with a few more dog poo bins around. Came away happy tho and not too busy on a Sunday either

Ben Miners, 2/Jul/2017
2 Stars 2 Stars

I enjoy the place, it's a good place to take the dog. However, I think the parking prices are extortionate, I know they need money in order to upkeep the place but you only have 2 choices 1.50 for an hour or 6 for the whole day, 1 hour is pointless because by the time you get anywhere you have to head back. I usually go for 2 hours or so and I can't warrant paying 6 for that as I go most weekends. You should operate a barrier and token system where you pay for how long you're actually there for. Until then I will just park outside of the forest and walk in to it.

Ryan, 1/Jul/2017

If you are a regular visitor, an annual Discovery Pass is £45 (less than £1 per week)and means you can visit as often and as long as you like.

Forestry Commission Response

Parking fees shocking .Visited hamsterly Friday to do some puppy training only was there 1 hr and hurried poor little lad around as was worried about parking, didn't want to stop all day . I have no kids and no bike so not interested in the up keep of these activities. Hamsterly forest is becoming far to busy. As a local I would be there often as a child and also my children discovering all about the countryside and all its glory. Your taking away the focus of the forest with all these play areas and bike trails, it wasn't broken so why try to fix it. Looking cheap and nasty will not return .

Andrea, 25/Jun/2017

Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, change is part of the world we live in and to encourage a larger cross-section of society to enjoy our woodlands we have developed facilities such as play trails and mountain bike trails. These are proving very popular with a wide variety of visitors.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Incredible place

JB, 20/Jun/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

First time visit. We will be back and recommend it to friends and family. Great choice of bike trails, lovely walks and fabulous play areas for the children. Facilities clean and plentiful. We didn't think the parking charges were unreasonable (have you been to the Lakes?)

Anonymous, 16/Jun/2017
3 Stars 3 Stars

The forest is great but I agree with most of the visitors, parking is too expensive! We do not want to spend a full day there but 1 hour is not enough. I would advise you to rethink parking charges as they are not adequate for people who would arrive just for 2-3 hours walk....

Mul, 4/Jun/2017
2 Stars 2 Stars

Agree with the other comments forest is 5 stars but the new price increase is high with only the option of all day or strictly 1 hour! I think a 1-2 hour slot and then the all day would be a better option as a local it just pushes me to go else where like the bishops park.

Anonymous, 30/May/2017

Please remember a Discovery Pass is available for £45 which allows you to visit as often as you like in a 12 month period (including Bank Holidays).....

Forestry Commission Response
2 Stars 2 Stars

Outraged at cost of parking 10 per day on a bank holiday 6 other times, I will find parking space outside forest next time and walk in, suggest everyone does the same until parking fees are reduce.

Stuart, 29/May/2017

Sorry to hear that you are unwilling to pay for the facilities you use. Without visitors paying the charges we would not have been able to invest £160K in new play equipment.

Forestry Commission Response
3 Stars 3 Stars

10 for a few hours parking? The Forrest was amazing but paying 10 has put me off going again.

Bradley Donnell, 29/May/2017

Unfortunately, providing and maintaining these fantastic facilities such as trails and play equipment does cost money, so we have to charge like any other visitor attraction. A Discovery Pass is available for £45 which provides unlimited visits for a year.

Forestry Commission Response
1 Star 1 Star

We were going to visit today (bank holiday weekend) however after reading these comments and realising we would have to pay 10 to park we will give it a miss. The most we would be here is a couple of hours. How can you justify these prices?

Lindsay, 28/May/2017
2 Stars 2 Stars

I visit the forest regularly. (On horse back) Unfortunately I am finding each visit more and more stressful, this is due to cars hand breaking around in the car park which is designated for horses, also people been very irresponsible within the forest parking in front of the mounting block length ways so the use of this is limited. I am now looking for somewhere else to ride due to these issues.

Lindsay, 24/May/2017
3 Stars 3 Stars

Sunday 7th May beautiful scenery lovely family day out. The children's gruffalo trail was amazing well sign posted. Adequate parking. The adult trails were very confusing as the coloured arrows were same colour pointing in two different directions. Nowhere to put your litter on the trails, no toilet facilities on the longer routes. Also their was noway of contacting the outside world which is concerning as I myself sprained my ankle and had to walk on it for three hours as the sign posting wasn't as clear as the children's trail this has now caused my ankle to swell and had to take trip to hospital today dye to it.

Amy Harkness, 8/May/2017

Sorry to hear your visit didn't quite turn out as you had planned. All of the walking trails are colour coded (red/ green/ orange/ blue/ yellow) and as they are all circular walks, I don't think there is any point where the same colour marker points in different directions. Please note, the further you venture into the forest the less intensive the waymarking becomes, at times only marking essential junctions and turns. Also, there is no provision for litter collection and toilets in the forest as this would not be in keeping with the natural environment. We ask visitors to follow the countryside code and carry your rubbish with you.

Forestry Commission Response

We went to the forest on the Sunday of the bank holiday weekend, with a wheelchair user . After getting the child out of the car which takes a while with straps and belt clips and a ramp, my husband went off to pay to park. When he came back and said how much you were charging we both agreed we were not willing to pay this extortionate price increase. I think you really need to rethink this charge as you are alienating people from visiting who are on a low budget.If there had been a large notice as we entered the forest saying that it was 10 parking fee we would have driven straight back out without having to unload and then reload the child; who may I say was very disappointed. Why does it have to be so expensive, can you not do an hourly charge so if people are wanting to stay for a couple of hours it would be cheaper then if you were wanting to stay the full day its up to that person to decide how many hours they want stay. I think 6 is also a lot to pay the usual price, however I took into account the disabled toilet facility as its very rare to have a bed to change someone on. We all are very disappointed in our experience hence the unrated feedback

Mrs Avril Bradley, 6/May/2017
2 Stars 2 Stars

The forest would get 5 stars but the excessive parking is just wrong. We have a toddler so usually soend 1.5 - 2 hours here this means we have to pay 10 for a short stroll. Can you not have more options such as 2-3 hours then full day? I know this has put a lot of visitors off returning like ourselves which is a shame

Simon Liversedge, 4/May/2017
1 Star 1 Star

10 to park!! Absolutely robbing people blind, we pulled up and drove away not worth 10 to park. Greedy.

Sarah , 2/May/2017

Was very disappointed with the Bank Holiday Monday parking charge of 10. An extortionate amount which meant we did not stay and almost certainly will not visit again. Whilst appreciating the levy from parking goes towards maintaining the facilities at the forest, those visiting are using the forest in different ways and arguably a flat fee is unjust. Not everyone is on a bike/on a horse/using the bike wash/caf/bike trails/play area, etc. It is incredible that you can't just take a walk through a beautiful forest without having to pay 10 for the privilege.

Tracey, 2/May/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Cost 10 to park all day but well worth 9it kids and dog really enjoyed it great day out definitely be going back

Dave, 1/May/2017
2 Stars 2 Stars

Charging 10 for car parking on the busiest weekends is just expolitation. Surely the higher number of visitors alone pay for the increased costs. Other leisure facilities don't increase their prices (swimming pools, theme parks, cinema, bowling) when they have increased footfall. I for one will park outside of the forest on future visits and I am sure many more will choose to do so too

John , 1/May/2017
3 Stars 3 Stars

We paid 10 to park on bank holiday Sunday, if it wasn't because the 8 of us had made the effort to visit we would have turned around and gone else where. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the children's infrastructure had improved immensely since when I was here last. Pleasantly pleased after our walk we went for a cup of tea which then plunged us all back to where we were when we entered the forest, 1.70 for a tasteless cup of tea, the cafe was very busy and I can't help thinking is was make as much as you can with as little input as possible, a good tea bag costs 3p from the supermarkets so surely for 1.70 it should have been a lot better than it was, disgruntled, Co Durham.

Anonymous, 30/Apr/2017
1 Star 1 Star

10 parking fee really greedy, why not charge a couple of to park then most people would spend 10-20 in the cafe anyway?

We won't be visiting so no 10 fee from us!

George,, 30/Apr/2017

The raised price on a bank holiday weekend is to help offset the increased costs of managing the forest on these busy days. Visiting on another weekend may appeal more to visitors as it may be less hectic and of course cheaper.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

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!

Andrew, 20/Apr/2017
2 Stars 2 Stars

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

Kayla, 18/Apr/2017

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.

Forestry Commission Response

Please make the Gruffalo trail a 'no cycle' zone . Mountain bikers at speed and toddlers are not a good combination.

Miranda Blackman, 18/Apr/2017

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.

Forestry Commission Response
1 Star 1 Star

Clearly by the comments by the forestry commission regarding carpark charges, they are out of touch and don't really care what the general public think - all about the money - shame on you

Hopefully people will vote with their feet and stay away

Rip off, 17/Apr/2017

Unfortunately, in order to provide facilities such as car parking, toilets, litter clearance, trails, play equipment etc, money does indeed become a factor. The money from car parking goes directly towards providing new facilities and maintaining existing ones. At £6 (or even £10 on a bank holiday) for a family of four, this represents value for money for a day out. The equivalent cost for swimming for a family would be £10.60 or a trip to the cinema will be between £20-£26. People will indeed vote with their feet.

Forestry Commission Response

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.

Graeme Measor, 16/Apr/2017

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.

Forestry Commission Response
3 Stars 3 Stars

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!!!!

Jonathan Bennett, 15/Apr/2017
3 Stars 3 Stars

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.

Andy, 15/Apr/2017
2 Stars 2 Stars

Parking charges excessive.

Why pay more for Easter weekend - poor facilities still the same all year round

Pricing people away

G Wright , 15/Apr/2017

This weekend we had all the main car parks full on three consecutive days. If the higher charge has put some people off coming this weekend then that has lessened the pressure on the facilities. For those who do not want to pay the extra for a bank holiday, then there are 48 other weekends in the year where the admission charge is £6. Discovery Pass holders are free even on a bank holiday.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Great day out. Only downside was dogs off their leads on the children's Gruffalo trail. Will definitely be back though.

Glenn Martin, 14/Apr/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Had a lovely visit today...although the place was packed as a holiday weekend. We loved the trails and my kids loved the play equipment. Thought it great value as looks like a ton of money has been spent on the bike trails and all the amazing climbing stuff for the kids. I wish I was 30 years younger, I would play on the stuff!!.

Jimmy Bonmarche, 14/Apr/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Over the past 8 years I have visited Hamsterley most weekends and enjoyed the forest walks.

I also subscribe to the Discovery Pass.

I always champion the value for money Hamsterley is for either for a day visit or the Discovery Pass.

What is now becoming saddening and concerning is the amount of rubbish that I am observing on my walks. I very much appreciate that the Rangers and volunteers are trying to keep on top of this problem but it seems that the users of the forest need to be educated.

The method of education can be simple (advisory sign boards in more frequent/selective locations) or prohibitive (Rangers policing and fines).

It may be coincidence that but my observations show that most the litter (plastic drink bottles, protein bar wrappers etc.) are in the locations or along shared mountain bike tracks. I have not ventured along the exclusive mountain bike tracks since this is prohibited for walkers so have no appreciation of any litter problems along these tracks.

It is also concerning that there is still numerous cars being parked (usually with bike racks) along the access road to the forest I assume in order to avoid the car park charges, but still wanting to use the mountain bike tracks. This may escalate due to the increase in car park charges especially on holiday weekends. The fees that these users would have paid would go to the up keep of the tracks and help in the collection of litter. Again, education may solve this problem using the same methods as for the litter.

Litter Bugs & Avoiding Car Park Charges, 10/Apr/2017

Unfortunately, with a large increase in visitor numbers over the past few years has come an increase in the amount of rubbish that is generated and at times left in the forest. This is not just a problem with cyclists, but litter-bugs exist in all user groups - we have even noticed a considerable increase in litter associated with young families on the Gruffalo Trail. We ask you to take whatever you bring into the forest away with you. If you don't wish to do this, bins and dog bins are provided near around the visitor centre.

Forestry Commission Response
1 Star 1 Star

We visited today with my two year old daughter. She has severe lactose intolerance. My partner found the staff at the cafe very unhelpful even rude when she tried to find something suitable for our daughter to eat. The member of staff serving my partner had the audacity to apologise to the people queueing behind my partner; as if to say she was being unreasonable in her enquiries. All we wanted to do was feed our daughter but apparently her allergy was an inconvenience to them. It was unbelievably rude and upsetting.

Peter Dawson, 8/Apr/2017

Sorry to hear your visit was spoiled by your experience in the café. I have forwarded your details to the proprietor of Hamsterley café and you will be contacted personally.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

My boys love this place, we did the Gruffalo trail at February half term and returned to do it again today. My husband commented it would be a great place to camp, especially to let the boys do some stargazing. If only!!!

Karen C, 2/Apr/2017
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

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