Exploring The Beautiful Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire
Ashridge Estate is a National Trust run estate with over 5000 acres and 80 miles of footpaths and bridelways to explore. Expect scenic rolling hills and ancient woodlands in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Chiltern Hills in Hertfordshire.
It is a fabulous place for family walks and is a free day out (parking is also free), although having a National Trust membership is really worth it when you have little ones and helps to maintain these beautiful places.
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire.
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How to get to Ashridge Estate
Ashridge Estate is located about 2 miles (3km) north of Berkhamstead and about 25 miles (40 km) north of London (as the crow flies).
You can reach the Estate by train from London by taking a direct train from Euston Station on the West Midlands line. The journey takes about 50 minutes. From Tring you would need to take a taxi to Ashridge.
If you are driving to Ashridge from central London, the journey can take between one hour and ninety minutes. Considering having a full day out from London? You may find that you have time to squeeze in a visit to the Tring Natural History Museum which is only 10 miles (16km) away in Tring.
Ashridge Estate parking
There are 20 designated car parking areas at Ashridge offering free parking. During the warmer months there is plenty of parking all the way down Monument Drive, the main parking area, but this becomes more limited during the wetter months when it is too boggy for parking.
The car parks can become quite busy, so if all the parking areas are full, National Trust urges you to back later rather than park on the grass verges on the side of the road which can cause a lot of damage.
Try to arrive earlier in the day to avoid the crowds.
Best time to visit Ashridge Estate
Ashridge Estate is a great place to visit year round. Our favourite times to visit are during the spring when the famous Ashridge Estate bluebells are out. The bluebell woods are completely carpeted in a sea of blue and on sunny days, the sun streams through the tree canopy lighting up the bluebells. It is truly stunning.
If you like bluebells, you might want to also check out Heartwood Forest in Hertfordshire.
We also love Ashridge Estate during the autumn when the autumn colours are vibrant and the mornings start with a lingering mist giving it a bit of a ghostly appearance. Just be prepared for lots of mud!
Ashridge Estate Walks
With over 80 miles of paths around the 5000 acre estate, there are lots of options. You can pick up a map at the visitor centre when it is open. It is currently closed, but all of the walks at Ashridge Estate are clearly signposted so you can easily do self-guided walks. Have a look on the National Trust, Ashridge Estate website for more details on the walks.
The most popular walk is the 17 mile boundary walk, but this is something we haven’t tackled yet as it is too far for the kids.
If you don’t feel like sticking to a particular walking route, you can just wander through the woodland. The kids love just playing in the woods. There’s a track from the monument heading away from the visitor centre that takes you into the woods and over a bridge.
So many times we’ve heard people mutter the ‘who’s that trip-trapping over my bridge?’ line as they cross this bridge. Good to know it’s not just us. Even now aged 7 and 6 they will do a quick check for Trolls under the bridge before deeming it safe to cross!
If you head down into the valley from the bridge, following a gulley, you’ll come to the edge of the woodland and have lovely views out over the estate. There are also fallen trees across the gulley which are popular with our kids and great for imaginative play.
Ashridge Estate Monument
The Bridgewater Monument was builtin 1932 in memory of the Third Duke of Bridgewater who once lived in Ashridge House. If you’re feeling energetic, you can climb the 172 steps between April and October.
There are fabulous views of the surrounding countryside from the top. On clear days you may be able to spot Wendover Woods,Waddesdon Manor and even Canary Wharf.
There is charge of £1 per person to do this, although the monument is closed currently.
Facilities at Ashridge Estate
The Brownlow Cafe Ashridge Estate – The Ashridge Estate Cafe is a great place to pick up a quick bite. We have previously enjoyed their bacon sarnies and a coffee before heading off on a cold walk. It is not run by the National Trust.
Ashridge Estate Visitor Centre – provides information on Ashridge Estate and walking maps. Also sells local handicrafts.
Toilets – There are toilets to the left of the visitor centre.
The visitor centre and the cafe are currently closed but the toilets remain open. If you are looking for something to eat, there were a couple of temporary food vans or you could try The Alford Arms (one of our favourite pubs in Hertfordshire) which is 15 minutes away.
Things to see and do in the area
If you’d like to spend a little more time in the area, you can even rent a super cute cottage on Ashridge Estate.