A Guide to the Stunning Hamsterley Forest

Located in County Durham the forest covers 4900 Acres and features walking and biking trails throughout. It’s a great place to visit for all of the family!

Hamsterley Forest is owned by Forestry England and is located in County Durham not too far from Bishop Auckland and West Auckland. The forest covers 4900 Acres and features walking trails, biking trails and commercial forestry operations throughout. It’s a great place to visit for all of the family!

Hamsterley Forest History:

Following WW1 during the 1930’s the forest was planted and labourers worked to create the tracks throughout. Wooden huts were built during this time to house the workers, some of these can still be seen on the site. Iron Age, Bronze Age, Mesolithic and Neolithic tools have been found on the site suggesting previous historical significance. 

Mountain Biking at Hamsterley Forest:

Hamsterley is famous for its mountain biking trails developed in 2004 they offer a number of routes of different difficulties throughout. Forestry England provides useful information on these here:


Walking at Hamsterley Forest:

Hamsterley Forest is a great place to walk, offering a range of trails of different lengths for various ages and abilities. The site features a famous Gruffalo trail with sculptures throughout for kids and adults alike to enjoy. 


The range of routes include:

The Riverside Trail:

2.4km / 1.5 miles – 1 Hour – Grade Easy

Bedburn Valley Walk:

4km / 2.5 miles – 1.5 hours – Grade Moderate

Three Becks Walk:

7.2km / 4.5 miles – 2.5 hours – Grade Moderate

Viking Play Trail

Each of these routes is marked throughout the forest by signposts that are easy to follow so you don’t have to keep an eye on a map throughout. 

Walking Conditions at Hamsterley Forest:

The forest is exceptionally well kept so walking conditions are generally really good throughout, however it is of course still a forest so it’s necessary to bear the weather in mind and wear boots / appropriate footwear for the conditions. 

Dogs at Hamsterley Forest:

Dogs are welcomed to the forest however in a large portion of the woodland they should be on a lead, there are often many other dogs throughout the forest and other wildlife such as sheep so it’s important to bear this in mind. 

Parking at Hamsterley Forest: 

There’s an on-site car park, with lots of spaces, the forest can often be very busy so it’s worth getting there early where possible. Parking charges vary it’s best to check the Forestry England website for the most up to date details on this:


Refreshments at Hamsterley Forest:

There is an on-site café for refreshments, however it’s also worth bringing bottled water etc. or buying something in the shop for during your walk. 

Accessibility at Hamsterley Forest: 

The forest is quite accessible with a number of disabled spaces, accessible toilets, baby changing facilities and assistance dogs welcomed. We do however encourage you to check this information before travelling as it may depend on the forest at any given time:


Transport to Hamsterley Forest:

Transport to Hamsterley Forest is primarily easiest by car or coach. There are some local bus routes that pass close by however multiple buses may be needed to reach the area depending on where you start and additional walking will be involved.

Supporting Forestry England:

The forest is operated by Forestry England, the price for parking and use of the cafe etc. supports them but additional donations and options to support them can be found here.

Hamsterley Forest is an incredible place to visit, we hope you enjoy your walk, cycle or just taking in the scenery!

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