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in the county of East Sussex

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Pictures of Hamsterley Forest

in the town of Bishop Auckland, in the county of County Durham

About Hamsterley Forest

Hampsterley Forest encompasses over five thousand acres, it is a combination of parkland and forest, giving access to some of the most beautiful woodland in the county. It is crossed with streams and has many beauty spots, and is mainly centred around the Ayhope and Bedburn Becks.

The forest has a rich diversity of mature woodland, with Scots Pines that are aged around 70 years, but it does have a variety of younger plantation, plus great trees possibly planted in the 19th century by the Surtees family. An area of wonderful oak trees covers around 25 hectares.

This is a superb place to bring children, it has many natural habitats for woodland creatures such as roe deer, badger and grey squirrel, and is noted for its reptile population and butterfly fauna. There are even places where you can see wood ants building nests from fallen pine needles.

The forest is full of birdsong, it is a great place to be on a summer evening when the air is full of the sound of the nightjar and woodcock. It also provides cover for wintering birds such as crossbills and siskins, these tiny feathered creatures can often be heard scurrying around for food.

At Neighbour Moor there is a viewpoint, from here you can take advantage of sightings of goshawk, sparrowhawk and buzzard, with other birds of prey being seen according to each differing season.

In the Bedburn valley the woodland is home to woodpeckers, treecreeper and numerous other varieties including summer migrants such as the pied flycatcher and wood warbler. So there is plenty here to keep even the most demanding bird-watcher happy!

The forest is also a place for motor rallying, mountain biking and orienteering. It has an outdoor centre with self-catering accommodation and a place for small tents. This offers all kinds of activities and is located in a particularly beautiful part of the forest, looking around you quickly realise just why this lovely place is referred to as the last of England's vast open spaces.

Despite bikers, rallying and other sports now associated with Hamsterley, there remain many lonely, desolate spots to wander where you are unlikely to meet anyone, nor hear any sound other than that of birds and animals. There are many enjoyable places to picnic, and some marvellous vista's through the trees.

For the further enjoyment of visitors there is a shop, tea room, cycle hire and an adventure playground for children.

Being located between Weardale and Teesdale, and lying close to the magnificent march of the Pennines, the whole area opens up endless possibilities for visitors to explore the great outdoors of Durham.

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