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Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail

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Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail
Author: Claire, Published: 06 Jun 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail, County Durham Walking Guidestar1 Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail, County Durham Walking Guidestar1 Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail, County Durham Walking Guidestar1 Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail, County Durham Walking Guidestar0 Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail, County Durham Walking Guide
County Durham, West Auckland
Walk Type: Woodland
Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail, County Durham Walking Guide boot Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail, County Durham Walking Guide boot Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail, County Durham Walking Guide
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A circular and fairly challenging woodland walk of just under 5 miles around Hamsterley Forest near West Auckland in County Durham. Hamsterley Forest is managed by the Forestry Commission and is a lovely varied environment to explore, with pine forest, mixed woodland, babbling becks, open areas of gorse and bracken and flower-rich grass verges. The high points of the walk provide you with beautiful far-reaching views whilst the various habitats are home to plenty of wildlife. You might even glimpse a Gruffalo along the way!

The walk includes several climbs and descents throughout including some steep sections. The route follows a mixture of stone tracks, tarmac access lanes plus some steep sections of unmade woodland path which may be muddy, rocky and uneven with tree roots in several places. There are no stiles, livestock or gates on route, but you will need to negotiate some flights of steps and footbridges. Dogs are welcome in the forest; they need to be on leads for the stretch closest to the visitor centre but then well-behaved dogs are welcome to have more freedom. You will be sharing a few of the paths with cyclists and your route also crosses a couple of vehicle access roads, so take care with children and dogs. There are toilets and a cafe at the start and end of the walk. Allow 2.5 hours.

Hamsterley Forest is located about 7 miles north-west of West Auckland. The walk starts and finishes from the main visitor centre car park, accessed from the village of Bedburn. The parking fee is £6 per car, per day (this rises to £10 per car on Bank Holiday weekends to discourage the unmanageable crowds at these times) – correct Summer 2018. The fee can be paid via cash or card at the pay and display machines and proceeds are used to maintain the forest facilities. The post code DL13 3NW will take you to Bedburn village, from where you simply follow the forest access lane (marked with a brown tourism sign) to reach the visitor centre and main car park.

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Walk Sections

Start to Windy Bank
Start to Windy Bank

Start point: 54.6753 lat, -1.858 long
End point: 54.6729 lat, -1.8658 long

The walk begins from the main parking area for cars, close to the visitor centre. Standing in the middle of this car park, with the toilets ahead to your right and the visitor centre ahead to your left, look on your left for a signboard for the Bedburn Valley Walks alongside a vehicle barrier. Our walk will be following the Three Becks Trail which is the Orange Trail – it is waymarked with white arrows on an orange background (correct Summer 2018 – please let us know if this colour changes).

Pass alongside this vehicle barrier to begin the walk, following the stone track passing through a picnic area with the first beck, Bedburn Beck, running on your left. As you reach the adventure playground ahead, turn left to cross the beck via the beautiful arched footbridge, Northern Lands Bridge. At the far side, stay on the stone path passing between several pieces of play equipment and with Bedburn Beck running on your right. You may also spot the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s Child if you walk quietly!

You will reach a T-junction, turn left and follow the stone track leading you uphill (ignoring the cycle track which crosses your path). At the top of the slope, you will reach another T-junction. Turn left and follow the stone track as it leads you uphill and swings left. Just a few metres after this bend, look for a waymarker post on your right with the orange arrow. Turn right at this point to join the stone path leading you up through the section of forest known as Windy Bank.

Windy Bank to Bank Descent
Windy Bank to Bank Descent

Start point: 54.6729 lat, -1.8658 long
End point: 54.6641 lat, -1.8894 long

Where the stone path peters out, simply continue on the woodland path as it winds steeply uphill, taking care of the tree roots underfoot. At the top of this climb, you will reach a T-junction with another stone track. Turn right to join this. At this end of this track, pass alongside the vehicle barrier and keep ahead to reach a junction with a tarmac forest access lane.

Taking care of any occasional vehicles, turn right along the lane. After about a quarter of a mile, you will reach a junction (with a stone track forking to the left). Take this left-hand track, passing alongside a vehicle barrier and then continuing along the stone track that runs along the top of Windy Bank. Continue for just over half a mile to reach a waymarker post on the right, with the orange arrow pointing right.

Bank Descent to Beck Crossing
Bank Descent to Beck Crossing

Start point: 54.6641 lat, -1.8894 long
End point: 54.6656 lat, -1.8942 long

Turn right here and follow the narrow woodland path leading you down the steep bank. Take care on this path as there are both rocks and tree roots underfoot, it is very steep in places and can be slippery. At the bottom of the steep descent, you will reach a junction with the access road. Cross over with care and take the continuation of the trail directly ahead.

Follow this stone path leading you more gently downhill through the trees, crossing a stream footbridge and then turning right to descend a flight of steps. You will reach a T-junction with another stone path. Turn left to join this and it will lead you out to a junction with another tarmac access lane. Turn left to follow the road as it crosses over one of the beautiful woodland becks, Bedburn Beck.

Beck Crossing to Stone House
Beck Crossing to Stone House

Start point: 54.6656 lat, -1.8942 long
End point: 54.6687 lat, -1.8966 long

Immediately after crossing the beck, leave the lane and turn right onto the waymarked stone path. This path leads you through the area of forest known as Frog Wood. You will emerge to a junction with a stone track, turn right to join this.

The track leads you ahead with another babbling beck, Euden Beck, running on your left. Ignore the footbridge across the beck, instead at this point stay with the stone track which bends right to become a wider tarmac track. Follow this tarmac track leading you steeply uphill. The tarmac reverts to stone and, at the top of the slope, you will pass a stone house on your left. Your climb will be rewarded with stunning views to your right, across the forest itself and the hills in the distance.

Stone House to Ayhope Beck Footbridge
Stone House to Ayhope Beck Footbridge

Start point: 54.6687 lat, -1.8966 long
End point: 54.6761 lat, -1.8913 long

About 60 metres after passing the stone house, you will come to a junction of tracks (with a bench and waymarker post on your right). Turn left here, passing alongside a vehicle barrier to join the stone track climbing steadily. At the first crossroads of tracks, turn right.

The track climbs gently and then leads you downhill, with beautiful views of the heather moorland ahead. At the bottom of the first slope, the track begins to swing left (with another parallel track now visible on your right). Just a few paces later, look out for a waymarker post on your right. Turn right here to join a narrow path into the trees.

This unmade dark and subtle path leads you downhill through the conifer plantation, initially with a small bank on your left and later crossing this bank to continue meandering through the plantation with the bank to your right. This path is generally leading you downhill, with the parallel track you saw earlier running across to your right. At the end of this dark trail, you will reach an obvious T-junction. Turn right for a few metres to reach the rutted vehicle track and then turn left to take the footbridge over Ayhope Beck.

Ayhope Beck Footbridge to Green Man Sculpture
Ayhope Beck Footbridge to Green Man Sculpture

Start point: 54.6761 lat, -1.8913 long
End point: 54.674 lat, -1.8763 long

At the far side of the footbridge, keep ahead up the rocky vehicle track, passing through a wide gap in a stone wall and a stone-built picnic area. On your right are the stone remains of Metcalf’s House, once a coaching inn with stables that served travellers using this old drove road. Immediately after these stone remains, turn right onto the path (waymarked for our trail and also as a public footpath).

Follow this level stone path leading you through this next section of woodland. The banks up to your left are known as North Plantation. At the end of this path, you will pass a grassy picnic area on your right. In the centre of this you will see a series of column sculptures. It is worth walking all the way around the columns – from three different directions they depict the mythical Green Man forest dweller. He is depicted at three different ages and you will see that he becomes leafier with age.

Green Man Sculpture to End
Green Man Sculpture to End

Start point: 54.674 lat, -1.8763 long
End point: 54.6759 lat, -1.8581 long

Just beyond the picnic area you will emerge to a junction with another forest access lane. Turn left along the lane and you will soon reach a fork. Take the left-hand branch leading you steadily uphill. The lane leads you past a couple of properties on your left to reach a vehicle barrier ahead.

Pass alongside this barrier and then turn immediately right to follow the stone woodland track – again if you walk quietly you may bump into a couple of the Gruffalo’s friends. Further along, you will reach a wooden bench and waymarker post. Ignore the path heading down to the right, instead keep ahead on the level stone path.

At the end of the path, turn right at the T-junction and follow the stone path leading you downhill. At the bottom of the slope, a set of stone steps leads you down to a junction with the access lane. Turn left along this for just a short distance to reach the visitor centre and car park where the walk began.

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network Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail, County Durham Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 comments for "Hamsterley Forest Three Becks Trail"

We did the longest and most challenging orange way marked walk. It took us just under 2 1/2 hours with a few stops to admire the views and catch our breath after some of the fairly steep climbs. We made a rookie error of not applying any insect repellent and were plagued by horse flies to the point where they were so bad we nearly gave up and turned back but then thought of using some fern fronds to waft them away, we survived without getting bitten, but it spoilt the walk to some extent.

By akj161 on 13 Jul 2018

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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