Ashridge Estate walk
Ashridge Estate, Moneybury Hill, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire HP4 1LXRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Explore the open countryside, chalk downland and woodland at Ashridge, on the main ridge of the Chiltern Hills. This range of habitats means there’s plenty of wildlife (the estate is renowned for butterflies and wildflowers). Bluebell displays in spring are superb and you can find lots of grassland flowers like orchids. Autumn is a great time to watch the deer rut and enjoy the golden hues.
- Bus stop
Start: Ashridge visitor centre, grid ref: SP970130
Start at the visitor centre, near the Bridgewater Monument. Cross the Green, taking the path leading off the main track (it has studposts at the entrance).
From the top of Chilterns plateau, this is a great focal point for discovering the Ashridge estate. The Bridgewater Monument, which towers overhead on the top of the plateau, was built in 1832 to commemorate the third Duke of Bridgewater, a pioneer of 19th-century canal-building.
Enter the ancient woodland. In late summer, note that lots of the sycamores along the path have tar spot fungus (black marks) a good indicator of unpolluted air. Also, look for butterflies in sunny openings, and signs of badgers. Their tracks are seen in many places as well as holes called dung-pits or badgers latrines.
Over 2,000 acres (810ha) of atmospheric mature woodland with lots of waymarked trails to explore. Get close to nature here, whether it's the mighty beech trees, fascinating fungi, fallow deer or birds like nuthatch. If you're lucky, you might hear woodpeckers too.
Go over a bridge and you're now on an ancient Drovers path, which was worn away into a ditch by villagers taking their animals to graze on Pitstone Common. Continue to Moneybury Hill, so-called because of the buried coins found here (it's prohibited to use metal detectors on National Trust land!).
A variey of species can be found on the Ashridge Estate, including the 'edible dormouse' (or Glis glis), which can be recognised by its grey fur and bushy tail. Found almost exclusively in the Chilterns, they inhabit deciduous woodland on the estate. Ashridge is also a great place for invertebrates such as beetles and butterflies, while fallow and muntjac deer can also be found here.
Pass the left-hand mound, called Bell Barrow (due to its shape). It's thought to be a Bronze Age burial mound. The wooden lodge on the left is a copy of a Victorian shooting lodge that burned down in 1989.
On the right is a huge giants bench with lovely views of Pitstone Hill and Aldbury Nowers. Continuing along, note the hazel trees that have been coppiced (cut at the ground, then left to grow) to provide a wildlife habitat. The fallen cedar is still alive and growing. As you walk through the pine woodland between here and point 6, enjoy the smell of the conifers.
Emerge from the pine trees onto Clipper Down.
Either turn around (this is also the turning point for mobility vehicles) and return by the same route, or continue for another mile to Ivinghoe Beacon for more wonderful views.
End: Ashridge visitor centre, grid ref: SP970130
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 2 miles (3km)
- Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- OS Map: Explorer 181
A linear walk, so you can return at any point, perfect for families. Level surfaces are good for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Maps of accessible routes available. Visitor centre is wheelchair-accessible with an adapted toilet. Dogs welcome under close control.
- How to get here:
By foot: Close to The Ridgeway
By bike: NCN traffic-free cycle route to within 1 mile (1.6km) of Ashridge
By bus: For Monument, service 30/31 from Tring station, alight Aldbury, half mile from Ashridge; for Beacon, service 61, Aylesbury to Luton (passes close to Aylesbury and Luton station), or Chiltern Rambler 327, Tring to Monument or Beacon (Sundays, May to September)
By train: Tring, 1.75 miles (2.8km) from Monument; Cheddington, 3.5 miles (5.6km) from Beacon
By car: Between Berkhamsted and Northchurch, and Ringshall and Dagnall, just off B4506
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