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Fun In The Forest

HAMSTERLEY Forest in the Weardale region of Co Durham began life as a commercial forest in the years following the First World war. It is now important to the county for the environmental and recreational activities that are held there. People come in search of rare creatures or to go cycling, walking, horse riding or to take part in some other activity. Let me tell you about these.

Britain was suffering from a shortage of timber after the war. The Forestry commission was created and vast swathes of upland countryside were bought to establish conifer plantations. The labour problem was solved when the Ministry of Labour began to draft batches of unemployed men for three months at a time to do the heavy work of creating the new forests.

Hamsterley Forest Visitor Centre is a timber building that is a relic of those times. It was originally on of the accommodation barracks for these men. Now the benefits of Hamsterley Forest include picnic sites and recreational clearings. There are networks of walks and horse riding routes as well as a four mile forestry drive and extensive cycling facilities. The Forestry Commission created a cycling skills loop and downhill course in 2005 that cost £220,000.

Forestry rangers run fun and educational events throughout most of the year. They often work with the Sunderland Astronomy Club to stage Starwatch. Visitors learn to find their way around the night sky and have the opportunity to take a closer look at the planets. Youngster enjoy the Survival Skills in the Forest sessions. Den building is a favourite activity as is the Children’s Adventure Challenge.

A large number of environmental events are held. Nightjars have made a comeback into Co Durham following its almost extinction in the early years of the 20th century. Bug hunting forms a major part of National Insect Week. Rangers often lead Deerwatch safari tour and bird box building is a popular event. The rangers instruct traditional country crafts such as wheel building, broom making and Christmas decoration creation.

Physical activities range from walks through easy cycle rides to MTB wheelies. There is basic forest navigation for horse riders, horse orienteering and summer solstice walks. Among the seasonal events are the Easter Trail and the Easter Egg Hunt, Halloween Hauntings and Christmas Festival Fun. Hamsterley Forest stages mechanical events such as the vintage tractor runs and the forest drive thrust. Behind the Scenes gives visitors the opportunity to see the monster machines that are used by the Forestry Commission. Visitors are able to buy natural Christmas throughout December at the Hamsterley Forest Visitor Centre.

Hamsterley Forest has a greater diversity of trees, plants insects, birds and animals than the other northern forests due to the better quality of its soil. While the nightjar has returned to this area, our native red squirrel has been displaced by the grey squirrel. Hamsterley camp has been used as a centre for young offenders from the Wellesley Nautical School at Blyth and as a POW camp for German and Italian prisoners. The main entrance to Hamsterley Forest is via Hamsterley off the A68 Road or Wolsingham off the A689 Road.


Raj Aryan is a content writer. Presently working with a Tour Package company. Find India vacation packages and online at Cheap flights tickets to India, providing the best selection and availability of cheap tickets.
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