As a family we really enjoy walks around the Ashridge Estate, and we’ve done lots of them, but we’re always looking for quite routes away from the crowds. Recently the National Trust have changed the parking on Monument Drive, reducing the amount available and so we parked at Barracks Square and decided to follow the Foresters’ Walk which is a circular route that runs just behind the car park.
If you haven’t visited the Ashridge Estate before it’s a beautiful woodland near Berkhamsted on the Hertfordshire / Buckinghamshire border. There’s lots of nice family friendly walks, although the most accessible routes can get very busy at times. You can read my review here. Another quieter walk on a different part of the estate is at Ling Ride, and the bluebells at Dockey Wood are stunning in late spring. Ivinghoe Beacon is another popular family walk and is also part of the estate.
The route map of the Foresters’ Walk at Ashridge
We actually slightly deviated from the marked route. We took a short-cut that skipped the busiest part of the route that goes around Meadleys Meadow. Given that we were looking for a quiet family walk around the Ashridge estate, this made sense. This means our route also doesn’t take you close to the visitor centre or the facilities there. The route is approximately 3 miles long, on flat ground, but it isn’t particularly pushchair friendly due to mud and lots of exposed roots. With the right off-road pushchair you could possibly do it though, particularly in the drier months.
At the back of the car-park, instead of following the footpath behind the sign, we followed the one to the right which goes towards the visitor centre. This is initially following the way-marked route, until you come to the cross roads (well, cross path). Here we turned left instead of following the route forwards. You then keep going along the footpath until you pick up the Foresters’ walk signposts again. Along this section there are some AMAZING dens. From the look of them these have almost become a permanent feature.
There are also lots of bluebells in this area (something to bear in mind in April and May if you don’t want to visit the busier Dockey Wood). I imagine it’s going to look beautiful when they’re in full bloom.
Finding your way
The route is really well signposted and I’d definitely recommend reading the posts as they have lots of information about the route and woodland around you. We found some of these facts fascinating. This part of the route is “just” a good old, woodland walk on flat ground with the odd glimpse farmland and cows nearby. AKA the perfect place to let get some fresh air and let the the kids burn off all that excess energy.
Eventually you’ll turn left and follow the bridleway until you get to the road. A couple of things to point out on this section. There’s a fantastically murky looking pond on your right and a MASSIVE gravel pit on your left. I’m not sure if the pond was just seasonal, or if it’s a permanent feature, but the kids loved it (from afar) because it looked “gross”. Be careful with younger kids near the gravel pit. It is very deep, has very steep sides and it can be slippy at the top. Not the most family friendly combination!!!!
Crossing the road
The only negative of the Foresters’ Walk around Ashridge as a family friendly walk is that you have to cross the main road twice. Both crossings are in places with excellent visibility and it is easy to cross, but it is a 60mph road and this can be a busy road.
What an awesome name for a wood!! For adults this is a nice little path to walk through pretty woods. For kids there is an amazing bank right next to the path that has loads of gnarly trees and roots. It provides the child version of the krypton factor assault course that the kids LOVED it.
When you get to the edge of the field, turn left and follow the path parallel to the field. This is supposed to be closed to horses and bikes but, from the marks in the mud, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Here you get some really lovely views across the countryside and you’ll probably be able to spot some cows.
Follow the path around the edge of the field and then follow the waymarkers across the woods towards Prince’s Riding. One thing I really do like about the Foresters’ Walk at Ashridge is that it’s so easy to follow. I think it would genuinely be difficult to get lost!
If little legs are getting tired then fear not, the end is in sight. When you come out onto Prince’s Riding you can see a glimpse of Ashridge House (and WHAT a house it is!!), as well as the monument in the opposite direction. Walk towards the monument, re-crossing the road, and back up to wherever you parked your car.
Foresters’ Walk – a quiet family walk on the Ashridge Estate
Of all the family walks we’ve done on the Ashridge estate, this was by-far the quietest. Yes, there were other people but not loads of them, right up until we got to Prince’s Riding where it got a bit busier. When you compare this walk to the main, accessible footpaths it’s incredibly quiet and may become our favourite route at weekends and during the school holidays when Ashridge usually gets very busy. The fact it’s so flat makes it easier, but it is a very long walk, even with the shortcut we took. Smallest Child (3) managed it but, towards the end, she was clearly knackered. There’s lots to see and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see woodpeckers, deer, horses and cows.
Entry to the Ashridge Estate is free (you’ll find my full Ashridge review here)
Parking / How to get there
Address – Moneybury Hill, Ringshall, Near Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 1LT
Free parking on-site. The main car park is Monument Drive but there are smaller car parks on nearby roads. Please do not park outside of these designated car parks.
There are toilets, including baby changing facilities at the main visitor centre on Monument Drive.
There is a cafe at the visitor centre which sells the most AMAZING, giant scones. You’ll often find a coffee truck and ice cream van at peak times. Picnics are welcome in certain areas.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch email@example.com or get in touch via Facebook