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Explore Hamsterley Forest
(Average user rating: 4 unrated 3.5/5)

Latest News (14/02/2018 08:59)

1. The Riverside Trail and Highway Rat Trail will be closed on Friday 16 February ONLY due to forestry operations.

2. Harvesting operations will affect the stretch known as the “Silver Mile” which is used by the Spurlswood (red) walking trail, the Pennington (brown) horse trail and the blue cycle trail. There are diversion signs in place. The blue cycle trail will be fully opened at WEEKENDS but will be shortened to 4 miles during the week.

For everyone’s safety please follow the diversion signs around this area.

Below are two planned closures/diversions of trails:

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.

Ride the Super 6

Super6webgraphic6 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!

Highway Rat Activity Trail coming soon...

Highway Rat

The Highway Rat is the latest Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book to be brought to life at Hamsterley. From the 23 December, head on a journey with the Highway Rat and all the characters from the story. Packs will be avaliable from the cafe or information point for £3.

Gruffalo Orienteering

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Ideal for Gruffalo lovers wanting to venture off the beaten track and learn map skills. Gruffalo Orienteering maps are 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 Easter to end of October (10am-5pm) 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. 

Explore on foot

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.

Explore by bike

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 explorers! 

Hamsterley Forest Viking Wildplay logoClimb, 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 a forest! 

Explore on four legs 

Miles of waymarked horse riding trails through the high forest

What's on?

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 2017 (10am-5pm, 11am-4pm in October), the cafe serves soup, hot and cold sandwiches, and a range of drinks and home-baked cakes. From November to February half-term school holiday, the cafe is open weekends only. Over Christmas, the cafe is open additionally 27-31 December and 2-7 January 2018. 

Education and Learning

Hamsterley Forest is a brilliant site to bring groups to learn more about forests and the environment. Led sessions for schools and other groups are available to be booked with our learning partner OASES.  


What do other visitors say?

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
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Last updated: 9th February 2018

Help us take care of your forest

What's Here?

  • Baby Changing
  • Cycling
  • Mountain biking
  • Horse riding
  • Information
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Visitor centre
  • Toliets (gents)
  • Toliets (ladies)
  • Cafe
  • Open daily 10am-5pm Easter to end October; 11am-4pm weekends only November to end February (in addition, open daily between Christmas & New Year and February half-term holiday week).
  • Cycling Hire
  • Information on opening times for Hamsterley Forest Cycle Centre (operated by WoodnWheels), please call 0191 3783753
  • Cycle wash
  • Tokens available from Wood n Wheels and Hamsterley Cafe
  • Dogs
  • There are dog bins provided next to the bridges either side of the Gruffalo and play trail. Please bin all bagged dog waste in this area or if in the wider forest, flick unbagged waste off the paths and into the undergrowth. Don't give your dog a bad name!
  • Dogs on lead
  • Owners are requested to keep their dogs on leads around the visitor centre and Viking Play Trail
  • Easy Access
  • Riverside Trail from main car park to Low Redford picnic area falls within requirements for wheelchair accessibility in terms of gradient and surface.
  • Educational
  • Riverside Trail from main car park to Low Redford picnic area falls within requirements for wheelchair accessibility in terms of gradient and surface.
  • First aid
  • Defibrillator available at Visitor Centre
  • Forest drive
  • Toll Road. Section between Grove car park and Blackling Hole only open seasonally between April and October.
  • Orienteering
  • Permanent orienteering course with 28 control points available for educational use via a booking system. Maps are on sale in the tearoom priced at £1.25
  • Parking (easy access)
  • Designated parking bays at main toilet block, Bedburn car park
  • Parking (chargeable)
  • £1.50 one hour short stay (car/motorbike only); All Day rates - £6 car (£10 Bank Holiday weekends in Easter, May and August), £12 minibus, £18 coach
  • Play area
  • New Viking Wildplay Trail starts from the visitor centre and has exciting play to explore on both banks of the Bedburn Beck.
  • Telephone
  • Call box situated outside visitor centre and emergency 999 only phone at Grove Car Park. Note, mobile reception poor in the forest.
More about what's here


OS Grid ref: NZ091312
Postcode: DL13 3NL

Get directions


Hamsterley Forest

01388 488312

Opening & Parking

Opening Times:
The main car park at Bedburn (adjacent to toilet block) is open all day. Barriers on the forest drive and forest drive car parks are open from 8am to 5pm. Access to the forest on foot 24 hours a day. Over Christmas period, main car park and toilets open as usual.
£1.50 one hour short stay (car/motorbike only); All Day rates - £6 car (£10 Bank Holiday weekends in Easter, May and August), £12 minibus, £18 coach
Discovery Pass

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Forest Plans

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