Hamsterly Forest is the largest forest in County Durham, and takes less than an hour and a half to get there from Sunderland. This makes it the perfect day out, to get away from busy life, and embrace the outdoors. If you are looking to visit, hopefully this post will feature all the info you need, along with my top tips!

Of course, there are many restrictions in place right now. However, the toilets and takeaway cafe is open (complete with a wide range of ice cream, perfect for summers days!). If you’re looking for more places where the toilet is open, you can always look at this list from a fellow North East Blogger!

Here is the important info. The park doesn’t charge entry, however it does charge parking (more info here):

Off Peak
Up to 1 hour: £2
All Day: £6
(Bank Holidays): £10

When we visited, we of course just did the all day, and you don’t pay until the end. You just enter your registration plate and it finds your car.

The opening times are essentially dusk till dawn (more info here).

At the moment, the play areas are closed for obvious reasons. However, all four walking trails are open, so if its a hike you’re looking for, this it the perfect place! The bike trails are open too, more info on this is here.

There is the Riverside trail (or the Gruffalo trail), which is the shortest and perhaps most popular which is 1.5 miles (blue markers). There is also the Bedburn Valley trail which is 2.5 miles (yellow markers), the Spurlswood Valley trail at 4.5 miles (red markers) and finally the Three Becks trail, which is also 4.5 miles (black markers).

Now then, being one of the most popular spots in the north east, our visit a few weeks ago was a little stressful as there were LOTS of people there. We arrived at around 2pm, and the place was pretty busy. Especially the picnic benches which brings us to my first top tip.

Top Tip: as there aren’t lots of benches, be prepared, either with a picnic blanket to find somewhere on the trail, or have a late/early lunch to avoid the busy ‘lunch rush’.

You are allowed to bring disposable BBQ’s as long as they’re contained and are within the car parks, off the ground and not directly on the picnic tables. Nonetheless, picnics are an essential when visiting as its the perfect place for one!

The short trail (the Gruffalo trail) as already mentions is probably the most popular as its very child friends and reasonably flat. Therefore I have another top tip for you, if easy, flat and short isn’t something you are in desperate need of!

Top Tip: If you are planning on visiting in the next few weeks, with covid being what it is, take one of the longer trails as these are much quieter and you get to enjoy better views!!

We took the Spurlswood Valley Trail, which is getting some remodelling, however allowed us to get a great view of the forest!

If you do take one of these long walks, you’ll be so thankful to get an ice cream, slush or any cold drink from the takeaway cafe at the end, especially if you get the good weather that we had on this day!

And that rounds off our Lockdown Adventure to Hamsterly Forest. If you enjoyed it, i’d love for you to subscribe to get emails every time I post! Thank you reading it, and happy hiking!

Stay Safe Everyone!



  1. This looks fantastic! There’s something magical about forests, and somewhere will accessible trails is perfect for a day trip out. The photos are brilliant – sounds like a great place to hike. Thanks for sharing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *