Ashridge Estate boundary trail walk

Ashridge Estate visitor centre, Moneybury Hill, Berkhamsted, Herts, HP4 1LX

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Old shooting lodge at Ashridge © National Trust

Old shooting lodge at Ashridge

View of Pitstone hill from the drover's path © Bee saville

View of Pitstone hill from the drover's path

Incombe Hole on the Ashridge Estate © Katherine Piggford

Incombe Hole on the Ashridge Estate

Looking across the chalk downland towards Ivinghoe Beacon © Lauran Wise

Looking across the chalk downland towards Ivinghoe Beacon

One of the majestic ancient pollards at Frithsden Beeches. © Graeme Cannon

One of the majestic ancient pollards at Frithsden Beeches.

Ashridge Estate's Golden Valley © Paul Wakefield

Ashridge Estate's Golden Valley

Northchurch Common Ashridge © Bee Saville

Northchurch Common Ashridge

The granite column of the Bridgewater monument reaches 33 metres high © Katie Piggford

The granite column of the Bridgewater monument reaches 33 metres high

Route overview

This walk includes outstanding features of the estate, including Ivinghoe Beacon, ancient woodlands and dramatic scenery. You may see wild fallow and muntjac deer, so please keep dogs under control. Fallow deer roam in groups and muntjac tend to be solitary.

The route is clearly marked with Boundary Trail circular, green signs. These each bear an arrow showing the direction in which to go.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Ashridge Estate Boundary
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Ashridge Estate visitor centre by Bridgewater Monument, grid ref: SP970130

  1. Start at the Ashridge visitor centre, near the Bridgewater Monument. The visitor centre is on the left as you drive or walk up towards the Monument from the main road. Continue towards the Monument. Once there, take the path on the right, leading off the main track into the woods. You'll see a line of wooden posts across the start of this path. In late summer, note that many sycamores along the path have tar spot fungus (black marks) a good indicator of unpolluted air. Also look for butterflies in sunny clearings and signs of badgers. Their tracks are seen in many places, as are holes called dung-pits or badgers' latrines. Go forward over a bridge and you're now on an ancient drovers' path, worn down into a deep groove over the centuries by villagers taking their animals to graze on Pitstone Common. As you continue down the path, on your left is a mound called Bell Barrow due to its shape. It's thought to be a Bronze Age burial mound.

    Show/HideShooting lodge

    The wooden lodge, next on the left, is a replica of a Victorian shooting lodge that burned down in 1989. Further along on the right is a bench with views of Pitstone Hill and Aldbury Nowers. Note the hazel trees that have been coppiced to provide wildlife habitat. Nearby fallen cedar is still alive and growing. As you walk through the pine woodland between here and point 2, enjoy the smell of the conifers.

    Old shooting lodge at Ashridge © National Trust
  2. Follow the path, past a small cottage (Clipper Down Cottage) and go through a gate then downhill. Ignore the track on the left with the yellow arrow on the post. At the bottom of the slope, the path splits. You will see a sign for the Ashridge Boundary Trail. This is a green, circular sign on a post at the side of the path with an arrow showing the direction in which you should go. Follow the direction shown on the sign onto a rougher, downhill track.

    Show/HidePitstone Hill

    The path now passes through dense scrub which is inhabited by many types of birds. As you leave the scrub, on the left there are views to Pitstone Hill.

    View of Pitstone hill from the drover's path © Bee saville
  3. Where a wire fence joins the path from the left, continue straight ahead along it. Where the fence turns left, you should turn right. Follow the direction shown on the signpost for the Beacon onto a grassy path. Follow this path up the hill this part of the walk is quite steep.

    Show/HideIncombe Hole

    On the left you can see the spectacular deep valley of Incombe Hole, a natural feature dating from the last Ice Age.

    Incombe Hole on the Ashridge Estate © Katherine Piggford
  4. As the path flattens out, do not go through the gate or stile but instead follow signs for the Ridgeway and the Ashridge Boundary Trail. When the path splits, go through the 'tunnel' in the scrub with a yellow arrow sign at the start. When the path emerges on the other side of the scrub, you'll have a spectacular view towards Ivinghoe Beacon. Continue straight ahead, parallel to a fence on your right. Turn right through the gate and follow the track over the hill and down to the road. Take care crossing the road as the chalk is slippery and visibility is not very good. Take any path to the left up the slopes of Ivinghoe Beacon. There are several signs showing the way. The next part of the walk is quite steep.

    Show/HideIvinghoe Beacon

    The Beacon is one of the highest points on the estate with amazing views of surrounding countryside. It's the site of an iron age fort and beacons are still lit here on special occasions.

    Looking across the chalk downland towards Ivinghoe Beacon © Lauran Wise
  5. When you reach the stone plinth with a map of the Ridgeway, take the path to the right and continue through a gate. Do not go through the next gate you reach. Instead turn down the path to the right and through another gate, half way down. When you reach flat ground, there's a T-junction go right. Follow this path through a gate where it will start to climb uphill. You will come to another path after about two to three minutes, with signs for the Icknield Way. Turn left onto this path, which takes you through a wood and up a steep flight of steps.

  6. At the top of the steps, go through a gate into a farmyard. Turn left and go through another gate in front of you. Turn right and cross the field. There is a gate ahead with a green arrow sign go through it. Carry on, following the green arrows (there are arrows on most gates). The path gradually bends to the left with woodland on your left, on the other side of a wire fence. At the end of the path, turn right past a large house with a reservoir station next to it. Carefully cross the road and continue on the public footpath straight ahead. Follow the directions shown by the Ashridge Boundary Trail green arrows, which are on posts at the side of the path. Eventually you'll come to a series of short posts across the path. Behind these posts is a road. Cross the road.

    Show/HideFrithsden Beeches

    On your left you pass Frithsden Beeches the trees here used to be coppiced. These coppices now play an important role in encouraging wildlife.

    One of the majestic ancient pollards at Frithsden Beeches. © Graeme Cannon
  7. On the other side of the road is a footpath. Follow the path through the wood, alongside the golf course. You'll come to a gap in the fence with a path marked with a yellow sign. Do not go up this path. Instead, turn right and follow the line of the fence. As the fence bends to the left, you'll enter a narrow valley with steep sides. Carry on along the valley. At the far end, the trail crosses a road.

  8. On the other side of the road, slightly to your right is another valley. Go down this valley. After crossing a stile, you reach a fence blocking the valley. Turn right and follow the direction shown on the green sign for the Boundary Trail. At the top of the slope, turn left alongside the fence. Cross a stile into a wooded area.

    Show/HideGolden Valley

    You have walked through Golden Valley, which was remodelled by landscape designer, Capability Brown in the 1760s.

    Ashridge Estate's Golden Valley © Paul Wakefield
  9. Continue to follow the path which turns right, then left. Carry on along the edge of a ploughed field and across a stile. After crossing a field, following the path in the grass, youll come to a gate. Go through the gate into a farmyard and through another gate immediately in front of you. Follow the path downhill. Before you go into the farmyard, look behind you for a spectacular view of Golden Valley and Ashridge House.

  10. At the bottom of the slope is a road. Turn right onto the road. On your left is a path marked as the direction for the Boundary Trail. Follow this path uphill. As the path splits, go right in the direction shown for the Boundary Trail. You'll reach an alleyway between fences. Continue along this, crossing a road. At the end of the alleyway, turn right in the direction shown for the Boundary Trail. You're in Great Frithsden Copse, the European larch growing here is used in the estate's saw mill.

  11. Follow the path, with the golf course on your left. Cross the road. On the other side, you need to cross the golf green. When you come to the first line of trees, which run parallel to the road you've just crossed, turn right along a rough path. Follow the path, going straight ahead (there are signs for the Ashridge Boundary Trail on some but not all of the posts). You'll come to a house (Great Coldharbour) on the left. Follow the path by the side of this house - there is a direction sign for the Boundary Trail.

  12. Follow the path through a field and over a stile. Keep going along the edge of a ploughed field. The path bends to the left and goes downhill, then starts to climb. On your right is Spooky Wood which is owned by us and managed by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. In the centre of this wood is an area of rare chalk grassland, which provides an excellent environment for wild flowers, birds, butterflies and invertebrates.

    Show/HideNorthchurch Common

    The large open space is part of Northchurch Common. This area was dug up during the Second World War to grow food.

    Northchurch Common Ashridge © Bee Saville
  13. Just before a 'no trespassing' sign, there's a sign for the Ashridge Boundary Trail on the left. Follow this and go along the edge of the field. Go through a gate and follow the track to the right. Straight ahead on the left is a gap in the woods. You'll go through a farmyard. After this, there's a fence on each side of the track. Once past the fence, the track splits. Go along the right hand track. Go through the second of the two openings in the woods on the right. Follow the path and cross the road and walk down the track. When you reach a major track, follow the direction shown on the sign for the Ashridge Boundary Trail and turn left going downhill. At the bottom of the track follow the sign for the Ashridge Boundary Trail going right up a grassy slope. Be careful there are many tree roots you could trip over. After the path goes downhill, there's a post on the right with a sign pointing right. Follow this down the narrow path through the bracken. The path takes you to an open space. Go up the slope to your left. At the top of the slope, turn left. Continue along the main path, which twists. Ignore any turnings to the right or left. When you reach an open space, go diagonally to your left to an opening into a wooded area. On a post at the edge of the wood is a sign showing the direction of the boundary walk. The path bends to the right and at the end of the wood you are at the corner of a large open area. Follow the path here, which is marked with a sign for the Ashridge Boundary Trail. You reach a track. Go right and follow the signs for the Ashridge Boundary Trail.

  14. You come to a main road with a car park to your right and then a service road. Cross both roads. As you go along the track, there's a bench where you can admire the views. Continue to follow the directions shown on the signs for the Ashridge Boundary Trail towards the Bridgewater Monument where you will complete the walk. Why not visit our shop and Discovery Room or reward yourself with a cup of tea at the café?

    Show/HideBridgewater Monument

    In front of you is the Bridgewater monument - a 33m-high granite column built in 1832 to commemorate the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater's pioneering canal work.

    The granite column of the Bridgewater monument reaches 33 metres high © Katie Piggford

End: Ashridge Estate visitor centre by the Bridgewater Monument, grid ref: SP970130

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Hard
  • Distance: 16 miles (26km)
  • Time: 7 hours
  • OS Map: Explorer 181; Landranger 165
  • Terrain:

    This route is a mix of paths and tracks, some of which can get very muddy and are uneven in places. There are some steep hills on the route which can be slippery if it has rained. This is a long walk and you will probably need a full day. Please keep dogs on a lead to protect wildlife.

  • How to get here:

    On foot: There are footpaths up to the Ashridge estate from Aldbury (½ mile), Tring (1½ miles) and Ivinghoe village (¾ mile). Admission to the Bridgewater Monument is free when arriving by bus with a valid bus ticket.

    By bike: Quiet lane and off-road cycle routes, including the Icknield Way, and the Tring and Berkhamstead circular rides pass through the estate. Cycle-parking is available at the Monument and Ivinghoe Beacon car parks.

    By bus: Arriva 30/31 from Tring - alight in Aldbury, ½ mile away. Arriva 30 from Berkhamsted town hall stops close to the centre.

    Arriva 61 Luton to Aylesbury from Dunstable town centre to West Street, at the edge of Dunstable Downs and the start of the Ridgeway Link. This bus service continues to Ivinghoe Village. See the Traveline website or call 0871 200 223.

    Chiltern Rambler 327 service links Hemel Hempstead and Tring to Ashridge's Monument and Beacon, as well as the Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, on Sundays between May and September.

    By train: Tring Station is approx 1½ miles from the Bridgewater Monument.
    Cheddington station is 3½ miles from Ivinghoe Beacon and 2½ miles from Pitstone Windmill, by Arriva 64 bus service.

    By road: The Ashridge estate visitor centre is between Tring and Berkhamstead, 3 miles north of the A41, along the B4506 from Northchurch (to Ringshall and Dagnall). It can also be reached off the A489 from Dunstable.

  • Facilities:

    There are toilets at the visitor centre and a cafe with outdoor seating only.

  • Contact us