Hamsterley Forest

Visitor Information
Visitor Information: Hamsterley Forest
  • Opening Hours
  • How to find us
  • Parking and Prices
  • Facilities and access
  • Contact Details

Opening Hours

Opening Hours

Open every day.  


Opening hours Dawn to dusk
Forest Drive 09.00-17.00
Opening hours Dawn to dusk
Forest Drive 09.00-17.00
Opening hours Dawn to dusk
Forest Drive 09.00-17.00
Opening hours Dawn to dusk
Forest Drive 09.00-17.00
Opening hours Dawn to dusk
Forest Drive 09.00-17.00


Opening hours Dawn to dusk
Forest Drive 09.00-17.00
Opening hours Dawn to dusk
Forest Drive 09.00-17.00
How to find us

How to find us

How to find us
Bedburn, Hamsterley
Sat Nav Postcode: DL13 3NL
By Car

Follow signs from the A68, north of West Auckland.  

By Public Transport

There aren't any public transport links in to Hamsterley Forest.

OS Grid Ref

54.6747146, -1.8230975

Parking and Prices

Parking and Prices

Main car park is at the Visitor Centre but there is additional parking in grass car parks along Forest Drive. Hamsterley forest is introducing a new ticketless parking system which uses automatic number plate recognition (ANPR). The ANPR system is likely to be introduced in the coming weeks, for FAQs please click here.

Parking Charges

Weekdays and weekends in off peak times
Up to 1 hour £1.50
All day £6.00
Bank holiday weekends
All day £10.00

Coaches/Minibuses charges

Minibuses - £12.00

Coaches - £18.00

Additional Information

Regular visitors can save money with a Discovery Pass - Find out more about the discovery pass
Number of disabled parking spaces: 3
Card payments accepted
Coaches/Minibuses welcomed
Facilities and access

Facilities and access

Please note the café is temporarily closed.
In the meantime, you can still enjoy a hot drink and delicious snacks from the mobile caterer in the main car park at weekends.

The information point, where you can pick up maps and leaflets, is open 9am-4pm daily. Please note that the information point is at times is unstaffed.

For more information on planning your visit, take a look at our accessibility information:

Assistant dogs welcome
Baby changing facilities
Disabled toilet
Dogs allowed
Easy access trail
Picnic area
Play Area
Visitor Centre

Hamsterley Forest Plan


Located approximately 2 miles to the west of Hamsterley village, the majority of Hamsterley forest freehold was purchased in 1927 with the addition of Dryderdale/Knitsley in 1974. The long ownership of the forest is demonstrated by the majority of the trees planted being second or subsequent rotation, with only 16% being first rotation crops.

Of the total 2203ha area approximately 1917ha is managed and 286ha is permanent open land. In addition to the productive woodland the managed area also includes 46ha of agricultural land, 43ha of unproductive/unplantantable and 24ha consisting buildings, car parks and permanent picnic sites.

The current species composition is mostly conifer, a mixture of spruce, pine and larch with Sitka spruce dominant. The location of these species tend to reflect the soils and exposure of the site with spruce generally being sited on the less fertile and more exposed sites at higher elevations, with the other conifers and broadleaves being planted on the less exposed lower elevation sites within Hamsterley.

Hamsterley was planted predominantly from the mid 1920’s onwards and the majority of these early plantings have since been felled. A program of felling and restocking has been underway since the early 1980’s and the forest is now moving into its third rotation as some of these plantations are approaching economic maturity. Much of the remaining original forest is being managed through Continuous Cover Management or Long term retention.

Two statutory designated sites (SSSIs) are located within the forests covered by this plan, these being Low Redford Meadows and Frog Wood, which are also covered by detailed management plans agreed with Natural England. The Hamsterley complex is bounded to the North and West by the Bollihope SSSI and the North Pennines AONB. Remnant areas of ancient semi natural woodland and ancient replanted woodland are identified on the provisional register of ancient woodland.

The maintenance of the remnant semi natural sites is an aim of management, as is the conversion of the ancient replanted woodland sites to native broadleaf species. Where practical it is our aim to convert these replanted sites to native species through continuous cover.

No Scheduled archaeological sites are present within the plan area, though a number of unscheduled sites are located in the forest.

Hamsterley is a significant recreational resource in the area and forms one of the top visitor attractions in County Durham, receiving some 180,000 visitors annually. The recreational provision includes an Information Centre and shop, Forest Drive & picnic sites, classroom, cafe, children’s play area, way marked trails (walking cycling and horse riding) and an extreme downhill bike course.


Our aim is to create a more diverse and resilient woodland, with a greater range of species and habitats. The objectives of management here are:


Maximise the value of sustainable timber production through the implementation of the harvesting and restocking plan

Establish quality hardwoods in some areas.

Manage a proportion of the forest as Continuous Cover to improve species diversity and age structure.


Introduction of open woodland planting along upper forest edges which bound open moor to benefit species such as black grouse that utilise such habitat.

Continuous cover management will provide opportunity for wider species and age class structure.

Protection of SSSI features through appropriate management in accordance with agreed management plans with Natural England.


Maintain Hamsterley as an important destination for our visitors.

Improve internal and external views through restructuring and restocking with a diverse mix of conifer species and native broadleaves.

What we'll do

The proposals in this plan will lead to a more diverse and resilient woodland, with a greater range of species and habitats providing long term sustainability and greater resilience to potential pests and disease. Substantial areas of alternative conifer species will have been established, and the range of broadleaved species will have been extended.

Timber production will continue through a clearfell/restock regime with the focus on Sitka spruce towards the higher elevations in the west of the forest with a much broader range of conifer species and broadleaves at the lower elevations towards the east. The establishment of a broader suite of commercial species, including quality hardwoods will provide long term sustainability and the development of broadleaves will offer potential for local woodfuel markets. This strategy will also contribute toward climate change mitigation and long term forest resilience. Continuous cover management, mostly around areas of highest recreational activity will provide marketable timber whilst protecting the internal and external attractiveness of the woodland.

The current plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking over several decades, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2025.

For further information regarding species composition and the future management of Hamsterley, please refer to the full plan below.