Hamsterley Forest – The Highway Rat Trail

We decided to go check out the Highway Rat trail at Hamsterley Forest. My youngest had recently been covering the story and doing a little play at school in class so she was reciting it as we made our way there.

Hamsterley Forest is the largest forest in County Durham and is located at Redford Ln, Hamsterley, Redford DL13 3NL.

It’s only a 35-minute drive from Darlington so a great place for a family day out. The parking is a set amount for the day at £6. It’s a little pricey but it’s easy to spend the day here especially in the summer months. I also found out that a yearly parking pass can be bought online – The one-year Discovery Pass costs £47. More details can be found here.

We headed to the toilets first which I must admit were a little messy but the recent wet weather won’t have helped for the floor. Also, it was a Sunday so possibly less staff around for cleaning. But they were open, accessible and no doubt had heavy use over the Easter holidays.

We then called over to the visitor centre to get a Highway Rat pack. It was £3 and here are the contents. I didn’t quite manage to get a photo before Willow had taken one of the stickers off.


Willow was thrilled with the mask and wanted it on straight away. Sliding down the play park slide and running around in the mask she did look the part! The gentleman at the information hut had told us where to start so we headed to the bridge and to followed the signs along the trail.


We started well and found the way easily, with lots of different themed play area for the kids to enjoy too. If your child is anything like my youngest and loves to climb, explore, balance splash in the water and have fun exploring then they will love it here.

We then decided to explore a path ahead and follow the beck that flows through the forest going off the trail as we planned to finish that later. We had a lovely explore and walk following one of the trails. We did find the maps a little difficult to follow at times and work out where we were on the trails. My mum and her husband who were with us are both experienced walkers who are always doing walking holidays in the Lakes and Scotland even found it confusing.

We spent a good while exploring windy bank (I think) and then noticed a path heading back down to the beck and picnic benches close by so decided to head down and cross the beck. The picnic tables were perfect for us to sit and enjoy the lunch we had taken along. Then after lunch, the girls had fun in the Bedburn Beck on its sandy beach.

We then headed back along a path which we realised had many of the Highway Rat trail on it, so we kind of ended up doing the trail backwards by accident. That being said Willow still loved seeing her favourite’s from the Gruffalo dotted along too which were spectacularly detailed wooden carved characters from the book. Willow had lots of fun complete the tasks for the Highway Rat trail too. We did struggle to find one or two of the boards and there was no info or hints in the pack of where to find them, I possibly should have asked for more instructions on the trail when in the visitor centre.  We did spot one board when driving through the forest on the way home that was on the other side of the road that runs through the forest that we completely missed. We will have to go back and try again which isn’t a problem as we do love Hamsterley Forest. Pop over to the website for more info here.

There is so much play equipment for the kids within the 1/2 mile area close to the car park and cafe. Which all centres around the beck which is perfect for the kids have a paddle in. We remembered wellies and walking boots which were much needed for the recent weather. We spotted a few stunning waterfalls too whilst exploring. We will be back soon and hope to complete a few of the walks over the summer months and make the most of the forest and of course spend lots of time in the beck.

Here is a little video of our trip too.

Have you visited? Which part was your favourite? Let me know in the comments. Also if you like my blog please click the follow button to get updates on new posts. I’m also on social media you can find all links on here to follow me.


Leave a Reply