With the Covid lockdown we are generally not traveling far but luckily we have several forests and parks around to choose from for walks. This time we chose to head over to the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire. It is a National Trust property with public footpaths winding all over it. We parked at a small carpark off the side of the main road and used a combination of the Forester’s Path and the Family Cycle Route. We were not sensible in the sense that we thought to have a map but we did stick to the formal paths as best we could and used our phones to confirm our location when needed. Within National Trust property this can work but I do NOT recommend this for anything else.
My husband and I are disagreeing on the name of the big main road that runs through the centre of the estate but honestly it isn’t that hard to find and there are directions to Ashridge on their website. We came in through Aldbury, up Tom’s Hill, and turned left onto the main road…the carpark was about 1/4 mile down on the right. It was not the main carpark. This one is on the Chiltern Way in addition to part of the Icknield Way and the Forester’s Walk of Ashridge.
From the carpark find the Ashridge sign and just walk straight down that path for about 1 km. It is a very wide path as it is part of the family cycle route for the estate. This route is marked with the red sign below and these are the markers we followed for the majority of the walk. The Forester’s Walk followed this path for a while but must have turned off as we no longer saw the purple markers until near the end. You will see lots of old trees with gnarled roots and arching trunks along this fern lined path. I found this walk mentally restorative.
At the end of this path we came to a junction with an option of left or right. There is a barn with a couple windows in front of you at this point and when you turn left you will see a lovely weeping willow tree in front of a house that was being restored at the time of our walk.
From this point we were just on the cycle path and we followed it up a bit of a hill and down until we reached the next junction. I had made an audio recording of all the directions but of course something went wrong with it and it didn’t play so this is now from memory. At the junction there were no cycle route signs so we guessed and turned left. We walked along the road (in the grass with logs separating us from the road) for about 300m. At this point we spied a church through the trees on the right. In front of us we saw a wooden gate and found the cycle path again. So you are looking for a wooden gate on the left of a bend in the road.
This was the only bit of path that was less well maintained. On the whole this walk is pushchair and wheelchair friendly however a few hundred metres along here is more rutted with large puddles crossing the path. It is not impossible and you may find the raised walk path to the right doable to avoid the puddles but if not just be prepared for big puddles.
This path continues right up to the main road again with a checkered house, Thunderdell House, and when crossing the road you will see cottages called Thunderdell Cottages. After crossing the road at the cottages turn right. The path leads toward the main entrance to the estate. There is a sign announcing the estate and a footpath to the left. Turn left and follow this path down to a four way junction and go straight over.
In this area we came across many little camps, shelters built by kids using fallen branches and other natural items. This place is definitely a haven for outdoorsy children and children at heart.
After going straight over the junction we followed the path to another junction. This one included a very old tree called Bob’s Oak. At this junction we turned right and followed the Forester’s Walk straight into the main carpark to the monument.
For the route back to the car we just followed the Forester’s Walk. Remember the markers for these are purple signs on the top of tall stumps. They are worth reading as they have a bit of history about the estate on them. To start back we retraced our route back to Bob’s Oak. From this point we stayed on the Forester’s Walk by walking past Bob’s Oak with it on our left. Keep going to the next junction and turn right. You can see in the picture below, the marker is on the tall stump behind my husband who was adamant that the way back to the car was not that way despite the fact our carpark was on the path and I had photographic evidence. Luckily he realised his error before we wondered out of sight of the junction.
We are now on the home stretch. This path will lead back to the carpark. There should be a marker by Deer Hay Meadow which is on your left. There is one junction which you crossed over. Eventually you will be able to see the road and carpark ahead of you. Just before the road my husband spotted a crater on our left that he believes might have been a bomb crater from WW2 but with other people investigating it we didn’t get close enough to know. Might be worth a look for you and then you can report back about it.
This walk was 4 miles in total and took us 1hour and 38 minutes to walk it. The path was mostly flat and family friendly. I would recommend an off-road pushchair but if you had to try with a pram you would make it. The cocoon of trees and ferns was like a big hug. It is funny how just getting into the greenness of nature can make it feel like you are breathing for the first time in years. I would definitely give Ashridge a thumbs up for walking routes. Make sure you check out there website and look at the walks detailed there…I know I will.