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Ancient royal hunting forest
Hatfield Forest is the best surviving example in Britain of an almost complete royal hunting forest. It has seen many owners, from kings to commoners. No other forest on earth evokes the atmosphere of a medieval hunting forest so completely.
Hatfield Forest is a managed landscape, which has been created through human intervention. The traditional woodland management techniques of coppicing, pollarding and grazing have been practised here for centuries.
The ecology and landscape of Hatfield Forest have been largely preserved thanks to centuries of traditional woodland and pasture management, and grazing by cattle and deer. It is home to over 3,500 species, some of which are rare and threatened. The hundreds of ancient trees provide the perfect habitat for some of the Forest's rarest insects, lichens and fungi.
The ancient trees of the forest are like magnificent living sculptures, peaceful giants worn and fragile from centuries of seasons and use. Some of our extraordinary ancient trees are 1,200 years old. Just imagine what these trees have lived through and the stories they could tell.
Whether you want somewhere for the children to run off energy or somewhere where you can quietly reflect, you will find your own special place somewhere in Hatfield Forest.
2014 - a special year
In 2014 we are celebrating our 90th anniversary as a National Trust property, as a result of a generous donation by Edward North Buxton, the noted conservationist and Trust pioneer, and his family.
Christmas at Hatfield Forest
Enjoy some special time at the Forest this Christmas. Visit Father Christmas in his grotto. Call into the shop for gift ideas or treat yourself to some fresh wild venison. On a crisp early winter's day, try a brisk walk through the woods. At the end, reward yourself with a hot chocolate or seasonal special from the lakeside cafe.
Five free things to do
- Try our new Hatfield Forest smartphone app. Download it before your visit or borrow a tablet device from our shop
- Go geocaching - follow GPS coordinates to find hidden treasure
- Use twigs and sticks to build a secret den in the trees
- Borrow a tracker pack and explore the Forest - ask at the shop
- Stretch your legs on a walk - enjoy the many paths through the Forest