How often these days are ‘hidden gems’ actually not that hidden? Places you expect to find deserted due to having this label are actually, on arrival, only quiet before the sun comes up or after it’s gone down! Such are the perils of living in an age where part of the criteria for visiting somewhere is how ‘Instagrammable’ it is. The Stang was recommended to me by someone at work after we’d been talking about good places to walk the dogs on a bank holiday weekend. Intrigued, I had a google to try and find out more, and my search results yielded pretty much nothing! I took this as a promising sign that we’d be guaranteed a nice peaceful walk on Easter Saturday – and I wasn’t wrong…
As my trawl of the internet didn’t give me much in the way of walks, it was a case of wander aimlessly, or have a look at OS maps for routes other people had done. We decided to follow an OS route to help us get the most out of the walk and to explore as much of the forest as possible – we followed this 8km circular route. I have recently invested in the paid version of the OS app and I couldn’t recommend it more – I have spent hours creating my own routes which I can’t wait to go out and try!
There are a few free car parks along the road which the route passes. We were the only car in the one we parked in, despite pitching up at midday on bank holiday weekend!
The paths up at the Stang were sooo much better than we’re used to at forestry places in North Yorkshire. Every path we followed was level and well surfaced – it was a beautiful sunny day when we visited, but even if it had been wet and wintery, I think the paths would have been fine – not the type to dissolve into a bog! I think for this reason the Stang is popular with mountain bikers. The route we followed was generally pretty gentle, with no steep ascents or descents, although there were a few gradual climbs. For a forest walk, there are plenty of great views over County Durham, before dropping back down into the trees for the second half of the walk.
If you do decide to visit the Stang please be respectful – the forest is privately owned but the owners allow the public to access the site for walking and cycling. Therefore, please do not litter, do not light disposable BBQs, and respect any temporary restrictions to access for commercial logging.
Dog friendly rating – 4/5. Like many woodland walks the Stang is a doggy paradise! There are signs up asking for dogs to be kept under close control or on a lead to protect the birds that live in the forest, so this is something worth bearing in mind if you have a pheasant loving dog like we do, as there are plenty of them about! The walk is almost entirely off road although there are forestry operations ongoing in some parts of the forest. There was one stile which we needed to lift the dogs over, but the rest were next to forestry gates, which the dogs could walk under easily enough. The trees provide plenty of shade on warmer days (remember to be sensible when walking your dog in hot weather) but there is no water, so take some along for your dog.
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