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Your comments on Hamsterley Forest

5 Stars 5 Stars

It's amazing place , love the country walks .Just started taking my family out on there bike , they love it to .best place in the UK.

Andy Shovlin , 22/May/2018
3 Stars 3 Stars

Lovely location nice to see lots of people out and about.

Enjoyed our walk in the ,parking charges are very high.I understand it was bank holiday but the condition of the ladies toilet was disgusting ,blocked toilets,no loo paper and the floor was revolting why so wet ???? The taps on the handbasins were constantly running ???? All in all probably won't be returning

Elizabeth james, 8/May/2018

10 parking on a bank holiday is a discrace

Mark, 6/May/2018

If you think the charges are too steep, please come on another weekend. The forest struggles to cope with the volume of visitors on a Bank Holiday and we would like to encourage some of our visitors to avoid these weekends. In addition, added costs such as portaloos, rubbish disposal and extra staffing have to be covered. Please note, a Discovery Pass allows unlimited access (including Bank Holidays) for £47 for a year.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Had a lovely visit today...was a bit more expensive to park than normal (100) but worth it as the weather was lovely and the little ones really enjoyed playing on all the new play equipment. Nice walks, a few annoying people on bikes flying around like nobodies business but great none the less. The Ice Cream van was open so we all treated ourselves to a refreshing whipped ice cream to finish off a great day. The group of jugglers on bikes in the car park were fun too!

Don Hillcrest, 5/May/2018
2 Stars 2 Stars

Nice place but parking charges are now over the top.

Not long ago it was 3.00, then to 5.00 now a 20% increase to 6.00 which you have to pay with coins or card.

We had neither (only notes and a few pound coins) so we didnt stop and now will probably never return

Butchek, 1/May/2018
5 Stars 5 Stars

I had a lovely 4 hour walk today - it was warm and sunny. I thought the way marks were well maintained and easy to follow. Please could you tell me a little history of Pennington Plantation as it seems such a prominent feature on the maps.

Anonymous, 19/Apr/2018

Pennington Plantation is the name for an area of the forest to the north and west of Spurlswood Gill. It would have originally been part of a shooting estate and before then a small holding. It is marked on the map as it is a prominent local area name.

Forestry Commission Response
1 Star 1 Star

Horrible the cycle routes were dangerous

Anonymous, 21/Mar/2018
5 Stars 5 Stars

James Osborn, 5/Mar/2018
5 Stars 5 Stars

What a great place to visit, the bike trails are good and the playgrounds are now excellent. If you take your dog or child then enjoy the parts designed for you and if you're on your bike then keep off the footpaths and it's great.

Fozzy, 28/Feb/2018

Havent been to the forest for years, a) because of inconsiderate cyclists and b)because of parking charge. Out visits usually last about an hour and a half. So have to pay full day parking charge for an extra half hour. We decided to give forest another go on 16th feb. Parked in the car park behind toilet block. Paid 1.50 and displayed ticket in car window as instructed. We ensured we were back to the car within the hour. Someone was trying to obtain ticket from the machine that I had used. A lady informed him that the machine wasnt working and she had been informed by someone at the shop it was ok and not to bother. So we had paid the fee for less than an hour and others who said ticket machine wasn t working were there for hours free of charge. Forest information says tickets can be bought from the shop but obviously not. I wonder how many got a free day out that day. Diisappointed

Anonymous, 17/Feb/2018

The main car park machines were not taking card payments this week due to a technical fault. All machines continue to accept coins and the information point was open all weekend to accept payment by note and card. The details of the third hand story about not needing to pay are not correct.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

Went here for a change from Whinlatter. As we arrived quite late in the day my sons and I decided to do the blue trail. Its pleasant but be aware that it is all on forest tracks and fire roads. There is no single track at all. It does say this on the map! But I guess we thought there would be a bit of gentle single track. Also be aware that some narrower sections are shared with foot paths. So absolutely fine for a spring, summer amble in the fresh air, not so good for a winter blast to blow away the cobwebs 😀.

Richard, 16/Feb/2018
3 Stars 3 Stars

This is an amazing place if you are here to bike! Unfortunately we were here to walk a dog and a 1 year old. Whilst it is vast the dog needs to be kept on the lead as there is soo much fun being had on the bikes. We get it and I cant wait to come here biking. Unfortunately this made for a very stressful time and had we known we would have headed to one of the other car parks and not the centre. We went to the cafe afterwards which doesnt allow dogs inside which then became dilemna as we now had nowhere to feed the baby. A real nightmare and unexpected that such a place would not allows dogs? Need to be better thought out! I would recommend to anyone without a dog,baby or both. But avoid if this is the case it became a wreck of a day for us.

Jimmie, 14/Jan/2018

Sorry you felt there wasn't the opportunity to let your dog off the lead. The Riverside Trail is a good spot to do so as this trail is away from the main bike routes. The café does allow dogs in the front porch section or if you wish to sit in the main café, dogs can be tied up outside.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

Took our daughter for a trip to the highway rat trail which she loved. It was her first visit here and although the weather wasn't great due to time of year she still had a lovely day out. Lovely area to visit, plenty for the family to do, we will be returning in the spring and summer months.

Joanne, 9/Jan/2018
1 Star 1 Star

Visited 1/1/18. We won't be going again, we went with the intention of giving our dogs a good run out but they were only off their leads 2 minutes. Everywhere we went there were cyclists on the same route which are very narrow tracks so unsafe for dogs to be off leads. Also loads of kids play parks so again dogs had to be on a lead.it seems to us that dog owners take last place so definitely WONT be going again you have to have eyes in the back of your head to keep your dogs coming into contact with cyclists very very disappointed.

Sandra Alderson, 1/Jan/2018

Hamsterley Forest is 2000 hectares in size. Outside the immediate area around the car parks and play trail, it becomes much quieter and there is plenty of scope to let the dogs off the leads (under control of course).

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

Try keeping a red setter on a lead! There are 5000 acres of woodland here, so it shouldn't be a big ask to leave the play areas to the children and explore the rest of the forest!

Nigz, 10/Dec/2017
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
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