Whether you’re walking the dog, lacing up your boots for a leaf-kicking autumn stroll or taking the chance to get out in nature and practice a little digital detox, getting out in Hertfordshire’s woods and forests makes for the perfect weekend adventure. We’re sharing some of our top spots for soaking up Hertfordshire’s great outdoors.
As Hertfordshire residents, we absolutely love the scenic walks and stunning countryside views that our county provides. But did you know that Ashridge Estate’s special area of woodland and unique habitats is currently at risk? Together with Natural England, the National Trust, and other local authorities, Dacorum Borough Council are working on a new programme designed to protect this Special Area of Conservation's wildlife, habitats and woodland from damage caused by walkers. So, in an effort to help us all respect and protect this beautiful landscape, we're sharing some of the many other glorious spots where you can stretch your legs and enjoy the Hertfordshire countryside.
Just outside of St Albans, Heartwood Forest is home to more than half a million trees, ancient woodland, wildflowers and plenty of wildlife. Lace up your boots and take on walks that wind through those magnificent trees, bring along your pooch and soak up the joys of being out in nature. Whatever the season, be it leaf-peeping, or bluebell spotting, you’ll find plenty of Instagrammable moments in these woods.
Believe it or not, Hitch Wood is just outside of the pretty market town of Hitchin and perfect for family walks. Bring a picnic in spring or wrap up in winter and let little ones explore dens dotted throughout the woodland. Spot bluebells in May and keep an eye out for deer while you’re here! Of course there are walking trails winding through the woods, so follow the waymarked paths, but be sure to stop off at the many benches along the way and drink in those views.
You’ll no doubt have heard of Hatfield Park, the two historic manors, the Elizabethan history, those landscaped gardens, but when was the last time you explored the surrounding parkland? Three walks cross through the parkland, ranging from 1.4 miles to three miles, perfect for a weekend stroll, or even a trail run if you’re feeling up for it! Spy deer throughout the park, and be sure to look out for the oak tree which marks the spot where a young Princess Elizabeth first heard of her accession to the throne.
Part of Hertfordshire’s only National Nature Reserve and as a Special Area of Conservation of European Importance…you’d better believe our next woodland is well worth a visit. Broxbourne Woods are home to a host of woodland wildlife and species including Purple Emperor, Great Crested Newt and the Woodcock. Here you’ll find an easy access sculpture trail to keep little ones busy and engaging with nature. Sounds like the perfect Sunday afternoon to us.
Hertford Heath is home to Balls Wood, a beautiful mixed woodland of hornbeams, Wild Service trees, oak and ash. Flora fans, keep any eye out for the common spotted orchid, not to mention the ancient coppices. Hertfordshire Willdife Trust has recently breathed new life into this rather special spot, creating sunny rides that allow wildflowers to thrive. Dotted throughout the woodland, you’ll find twenty ponds created from the bomb craters of the Second World War. Today they provide habitats for frogs, toads and newts. All this and more is best seen from one of two trails, The Hornbeam Trail and The White Admiral Trail.
In Watford you’ll find Whippendell Wood, 165 acres of ancient woods that are thought to be more than 400 years old. Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest with a wide variety of woodland habitats, you can be sure to find some spectacular sights on a visit here. Come bluebell season, it’s a riot of colour, making it the perfect spot for walks in May, not to mention the annual Bluebell Run 10K for the runners.
In Gobions Wood you’ll find a mix of grassland, ponds, woodland and even remnants of once beautifully landscaped 18th century pleasure gardens. In spring bluebells reign, while summer brings buzzards, great spotted woodpeckers and nuthatch. Autumn is spectacular for fungi, with 558 species found here, including 100 rare species. Winter’s frosty walks are accompanied by goldcrest, redwing and sparrowhawk soaring up above.