Hamsterley forest

New years day bike ride

Pine forests, rushing rivers, waterfalls and mud, Hamsterley Forest is my new favourite cycling spot. OK so maybe as we arrived, in a misty light rain and the temperature dropping to 4.5oC and the road more like a stream, I was not so impressed. But after a mini domestic it was agreed we would give it a go and I am glad we did.
A well known destination for hard core mountain bikers the moderate blue route was perfect for family cycling. Katie started off in the cycle carrier, but she’d soon had enough being prodded by Charlotte and we swapped her into the back carrier on my bike, where she was much happier.
The full route has a guide time of one hour and a half but has options to make a shorter loop back, which we took, given the chilly, wet weather (my pessimism hadn’t quite worn off). It starts off on a quite narrow riverside path through the forest, but was easily manoeuvrable with the wide carrier and although uphill, even after my xmas bingeing I could manage to keep going without too much puff. The scenery is beautiful and the river and birds kept the kids entertained. The route then joins the forest drive, and you can head back two miles to the start or carry on along the tarmac and then wider footpath for a longer journey following the river. If you wanted to miss out the first part, there is car parking at The Grove, which leads straight onto the forest drive.
Parking is £3 and there are plenty of facilities like toilets, a baby change and when we were there a bike hire shop giving away free hot soup.

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