Hamsterley forest is an attractive area of mixed deciduous and coniferous plantations along the sides of the sheltered Bedburn valley.
Over the years, the Forestry Commision has had a policy of making their forests accessible to all and a major amenity attraction for the area. Hamsterley is a good example of this and is now a popular day out with both locals and visitors. There are way marked footpaths, cycle trails (cycle hire is available), orienteering course and a four mile drive from the Visitor Centre to Blackling Hole Car park, which takes you through the heart of the forest. Part of the drive is along tarmac roads, the rest is along forest roads.
There is a map showing the different trails here. Alternately, maps and leaflets about the forest can be picked up from the Information point near the Bedburn entrance which is open 9-5 daily. The cafe is open weekends in winter and daily from April to September and serves soup, sandwiches and home made cakes.
There are picnic tables and a network of forest roads and way marked paths to explore including the wheelchair and pushchair friendly “Riverside Footpath”:https://www.forestryengland.uk/hamsterley-forest/walking-trails-hamsterley-forest
This is a well made level stone surface following the beck.
The forest is open for cars from 8am-8pm from April to September and 8am-5pm the rest of the year. Outside these times, barriers restrict access to the forest drive and some car parks. There is a £3 charge for car parks and access to the forest drive, and it is possible to buy a yearly Discovery pass which gives unlimited free access.
This makes a good day out in the fresh air. If doing all the trails it is easy to spend a whole day here. There is a chance of seeing deer as well as kingfishers and dippers along the beck.
The forest is signed with brown tourist signs from Hamsterley village.