Autumn walks in Hertfordshire

Autumn walks in Hertfordshire

Autumn walks in Hertfordshire

Although it’s turned a bit chilly, as the last few weeks have been mostly filled with glorious sunshine we’ve been making the most of it by exploring some of the fantastic woods near us in east Hertfordshire. Our boys are aged 5 and 2 and really enjoy zooming around on their bikes. Here are some of our current favourite Autumn walks in Hertfordshire along with pubs and cafes to refuel in afterwards.

Broxbourne woods and sculpture trail

  • Near Broxbourne and Hoddesdon
  • Distance: 1km (longer walks also available, see here)
  • Buggy friendly
  • Car park postcode: EN10 7QP
  • Find out more from the Herts site
Broxbourne sculpture trail is one of the best autumn walks in Hertfordshire for toddlers.  If you have young children who need a bit of gentle encouragement to go for a walk (rather than be carried along on one), this is the ideal place. Park at the east car park and follow the undulating trail which winds its way for one kilometre through mixed woodland with around eight sculptures, reflecting local history, to spot along the route.
Broxbourne Woods Hertfordshire

sculpture of a herder by Dan Cordell

Mostly carved from wood by brilliant sculptor Dan Cordell, they include a Roman soldier representing the troops who once marched along nearby Ermine Street, a Roman road linking London with York and a family of wild boar foraging among the leaves as they would once have done in this area. There is a mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees including pine and hornbeam so this is a great walk for any time of year. There’s plenty of den building opportunities and the paths are sufficiently well maintained for it to be suitable for both buggies and wheelchairs.
Mardley Heath

looking towards the former gravel pits at Mardley Heath

Mardley Heath

  • Near Welwyn Garden City
  • Distance: various
  • Buggy friendly: partly (can be muddy in places)
  • Car park postcode: AL6 0TP
  • Find out more from the Herts site
  • Refreshments: we like the Horns pub at nearby Datchworth and the pricier but excellent White Horse at Burnham Green
    Mardley Heath, best autumn walks in hertfordshire

    getting stuck in at Mardley Heath

This wood is very close to where we live but I had disregarded it for some time after reading that it wasn’t ideal for toddlers due to some steep slopes. However, I finally decided to ignore this advice as it sounded like such an interesting place. It offers a varied landscape of old gravel pits, oak and beech woods, ponds and heathland. There’s only a couple of spots where you have to grab your child by the collar, but it’s such a large space that the steep parts are easily avoided. There’s a huge beech tree with exposed roots which children enjoy hiding in (we have yet to find it as we didn’t study the map before our walk!) and a varied network of paths allowing visitors to explore different parts of the nature reserve. The only downside of this woodland for me is the faint background hum of the A1.

Waterford Heath, autumn walks in hertfordshire

Waterford Heath

Waterford Heath

  • Near Hertford
  • Distance: various
  • Buggy friendly: on the heath but not in the woods
  • Car park postcode: SG14 3LU
  • Find out more from the Wildlife Trust
  • Refreshments: there are plenty of options in nearby Hertford including our favourite restaurant Lussmanns. Otherwise, if you’re after a rural pub, you can’t go wrong with the Grandison in Bramfield.

If, like our kids, yours enjoy hurtling at breakneck speed on their bikes, Waterford Heath is a great place to visit. Another former quarry, this nature reserve has some excellent woodland paths with slopes which nature seems to have designed especially for kids on bikes to zoom over. We found it was very sheltered when we visited in the rain so it’s a good option if your children need to burn some energy on days when the weather is less than perfect. There’s also the open heathland, (with abundant blackberries in summer), which is buggy friendly and paths lead down to the beautiful river Beane for a circular walk back over the railway bridge to the car park. Apparently otters have been spotted in the Beane recently, another reason to pay a visit this autumn.

Waterford Heath, autumn walks in hertfordshire

biking heaven at Waterford Heath

Panshanger Park

  • Near Hertford
  • Distance: about 1km circular walk through the woods next to the car park or longer walks through the parkland
  • Buggy friendly: yes
  • Car park postcode: SG14 2WN
  • Find out more from the Wildlife Trust
  • Refreshments: I’ve yet to try it, but I’ve heard good things about the White Horse at nearby Hertingfordbury

We visit this lovely spot all through the year. In spring it produces an amazing display of bluebells; in summer it’s perfect for picnics and blackberry picking; the mix of oak and beech make it a stunning spectacle now that autumn is here while in winter it feels relatively sheltered from the elements. There’s also a sizeable wetland area accessed down through the fields which we haven’t got round to visiting yet as our boys always want to head into the woods. There’s a circular path which runs through the woodland for probably a kilometre but it’s hard to judge as there are so many fallen tree trunks, stumps and ready-made dens that you’ll find yourselves stopping every five minutes to play.

Panshanger park woods, hertford

sorry, no autumnal photos of Panshanger but here it is in May…

Ashridge Estate

Ashridge Estate is probably the most famous place for an autumn walk in Hertfordshire. There’s 2,000 hectares to explore at this National Trust Estate. With a mix of woodland and meadows spread over flat and undulating countryside, its a great place to walk or cycle. You’ll also find a monument to climb and a cafe to refuel in. We find Ashridge makes a great midway point for meeting up with extended family. And the National Trust’s brilliant facilities (mobility scooters for hire, baby changing facilities and toilets) make it a great destination for all ages.

  • Near Berkhamsted
  • Distance: lots of footpaths and cycle tracks to choose from ranging in length
  • Buggy friendly: yes
  • Car park postcode: HP4 1LT
  • Find out more from the National Trust

Heartwood Forest

This newly planted forest with pockets of ancient woodland is an impressive project created by the Woodland Trust. A lot of thought has gone into the creation of this woodland, plenty of it with children in mind. There are areas where den building is encouraged and there’s even a special walk called the Magical Meander where visitors can spot carved wooden creatures, reflecting the range of wildlife at Heartwood. This is a brilliant place for an autumn walk in Hertfordshire.

dens at Heartwood Forest, autumn walks in Hertfordshire

Den building at Heartwood

  • Near St Albans
  • Distance: lots of footpaths and cycle tracks to choose from ranging in length from one mile
  • Buggy friendly: yes
  • Car park postcode: AL4 9DQ
  • Find out more from the Woodland Trust

Post Wood

This is a lovely stretch of ancient woodland, within walking distance of Ware town centre. Although sections of the footpath through Post Woods are steep, it’s a lovely place to bring small children as it’s not too big. My boys love cycling through the woods here and playing on fallen trees. And for some reason we see more squirrels here than anywhere else.

  • In Ware
  • Distance: there’s a meandering path of about one kilometre or you can start from the railway station and walk along the river for a two kilometre stroll.
  • Buggy friendly: yes (but some sections are quite steep)
  • Car park postcode: SG12 9PD (Presdales Recreation ground car park: it might be full if there’s a sporting event on)
  • Find out more from Ware tourism

Looking for other woodland walk ideas with your children? Check out my post on bluebell woods in Hertfordshire, these places are just as good in Autumn!

Do you have any recommendations for Autumn walks in Hertfordshire? Let me know in the comments below.

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2 Comments

  1. pigeonpairandme
    17th November 2017 / 12:38 pm

    I’d love to see the wild boars in Broxbourne! Sounds as though there are some lovely walks in your area. Great pics of all the beautiful Autumn trees.

    • 17th November 2017 / 1:50 pm

      The Broxbourne sculpture trail is lovely! I think I took all those photos at the start of autumn last year as it still looks rather green!

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