We are proud to be working with The Forestry Commission for the second year running as one of their ambassadors. Nothing beats getting out and about in the fresh air with the kids, whatever the weather and we love, love, love their new Stick Man Trail and can't wait to share our experience with you. There are over 20 Stick Man trails across the country with Hamsterley Forest in Durham and Kielder Forest in Northumberland being the two that are the easiest to access in the North East. The trails are FREE although we would recommend picking up an activity pack from the visitor centre for only £3 which includes lots of additional Stick Man fun.
The Cross Keys Pub in Hamsterley for lunch
A quick search on google told me that The Cross Keys Pub in Hamsterley was only 2 miles away from Hamsterley Forest so we decided to pop in for lunch. The pub was traditional in style with friendly staff and a dog lying by the roaring fire.
We dined from the 'light bites' lunch menu and ordered a hot beef sandwich with chips and gravy whilst the kids dined from the children's menu which was a bargain at £3.95 including a drink. Our bill was less than £25 including drinks (Steve even ordered a pint) for the 5 of us. Considering the beef had been carved from a proper joint and the chips for us all were homemade, this lunch has to be the bargain of the century! They also offer a delicious looking afternoon tea for just £5.95.
Children's Meal at The Cross Keys
The evening menu is a little more expensive than the lunchtime menu so if you'd like to grab a bargain make sure you pop in before 5pm.
The Stick Man Trail at Hamsterley Forest
As soon as you enter the forest there are lots of natural adventure activities that are a challenge for all ages and abilities. We loved balancing, climbing and swinging through the forest. Even dad had a turn!
The Stick Man Trail is well signposted and features activities throughout the forest to get everyone involved. We enjoyed various stick games, acting like animals and playing Pooh sticks on the bridge amongst others. The kids thoroughly enjoyed this and as soon as they noticed a board would break into a run towards it and read us the details of our next challenge.
We were DELIGHTED when we spotted both the Gruffalo's child and the Gruffalo in the forest. I think my children were actually more excited about spotting them than they were on Christmas Day! We even witnessed a few children crying as their parents told them it was time to move on from the Gruffalo. Bless!
Adventure Playground at Hamsterley Forest
After the first couple of activities you will stumble upon a fantastic natural adventure playground with places to climb, poles to slide down, swings to try and even a few musical instruments. Our three love it here and we stopped for our first picnic of the year (and in the snow) at one of the nearby tables.
Our Children's Trespass Jackets
Heidi is wearing her new 3 in 1 waterproof jacket and the boys are wearing matching Sulivan Boys' 3 in 1 waterproof jackets which are both available from Trespass.com (currently in the sale too). Their jackets are layered with a warm cosy fleece which features technology that actually stops heat from leaving the body and can be worn separately. They are topped with a water and windproof jacket with zipped pockets and tapered seams to stop any water (or snow in our case) from entering through their cuffs.
We made a little 90 second clip in the forest reviewing what we thought of our day, check it out below:-
All you need to know about the Stick Man Trail at Hamsterley Forest
Hamsterley Forest Postcode:- DL13 3NL
Hamsterley Forest Opening Times:- 8am-5pm October-March and 8am-8pm April-September
Information Point:- Open 9am-4pm/5pm daily. Here you can collect maps and leaflets
Hamsterley Forest Cafe:- Open weekends 11am-5pm until Easter and then daily until the end of October
Toilets - Located in Car Park
Parking cost:- £1.50 per hour, £4 all day per car
Cost of Stick Man Trail:- FREE but you can buy an activity pack from the information point for an extra £3
Other Forest Activities:- You can free run, cycle or ride your horse through the dedicated trails in the forest's 2000 hectares. Cycle hire is available from Woods n Wheels (open Friday, Saturday and Sunday plus school holidays 10am - 5pm)
Cross Keys Pub:- Postcode DL13 3PX Food served daily from 12noon. Walkers, children and dogs welcome. www.crosskeyshamsterley.co.uk
Please let me know if you visit a Stick Man Trail and what you think :D