Planning your visit to Ashridge Estate

Duncombe Terrace view in winter at Ashridge, Herts

If you're visiting Ashridge this winter, please be aware that due to wet ground conditions there is very limited parking available at the moment. Please schedule your visit for a quieter time of day, only park in designated car parks, and if car parks are full please return another time.

Visiting in January and February 

The whole estate remains open for local visitors to access fresh air and open space for exercise in line with Government guidance. The Brownlow Café is open for takeaway Tuesdays through to Fridays until the end of February. Please note there is no refreshment offer at weekends or on Mondays. Car parking remains limited due to ground conditions and at peak times our car parks are often full by mid-morning and we may need to turn you away.

Thank you for helping us remain open safely by following Government guidance and staying local.

Car parking on Monument Drive

Monument Drive, at the heart of Ashridge, continues to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, most of whom arrive by car. There are very few surfaced car parking spaces. Most visitors park on the grass verges either side of the Drive which gives rise to serious problems during the winter months.

The most obvious problem is the damage to the verges themselves – people stuck in ruts, and wheels churning in the mud is a common sight in wet weather. When you combine this year’s wet autumn with increased visitor numbers, as more people seek outdoor spaces due to the coronavirus pandemic, large parts of Monument Drive are no longer usable.

Where possible we ask that you avoid coming to Ashridge by car and visit outside of peak times. If the car park is full please come back another day. If you can visit midweek, rather than at weekends, please do so.

There are many reasons we ask people to make sure they use designated parking areas and avoid parking on roadside verges. These include road safety, protecting tree roots from damage, protecting rare wildflowers on banks and verges, preventing damage to roadside verges, being considerate to our neighbours and ensuring emergency access routes are kept open.  

Other car parks at Ashridge

We have over 20 authorised parking areas at Ashridge. With limited space available on Monument Drive we expect these to also become very busy. 

During the first lockdown we saw a large amount of overflow from these smaller car parks causing considerable damage to roadside verges and some serious road safety incidents. If the car park is full please come back later. We have closed Dick’s Camp on the B4506 and Steps Hill on Beacon Road due to very wet ground conditions and anti-social behaviour.  

Exploring Ashridge Estate

You can get the most out of Ashridge on foot. Whether you’re tackling our popular 17-mile boundary trail or just taking a stroll along Duncombe Terrace, our estate is a place of space, fresh air and freedom. There are four waymarked walks for you to follow during your visit. Taking in different parts of the estate, they range from a one-mile family stroll to a heart-pumping eight-mile hike for those who love nature. 

Come prepared for muddy paths
Children in wellies walking on a muddy path
Come prepared for muddy paths

The footpaths at Ashridge are incredibly muddy due to the wet clay soils. This winter it is particularly important to make sure you have the appropriate footwear to tackle some of our muddiest paths. 

The paths are becoming ever wider as people try to avoid the worst of the mud. This is having a detrimental impact on the woodland, especially the woodland flowers and the trees. As the ground becomes compacted by the passage of many feet, the water is unable to sink into the soil to reach the tree roots. Please stick to designated footpaths and avoid walking off the path to bypass a muddy spot.

Ivinghoe Beacon

The chalk grassland on the Ivinghoe Hills is home to an incredibly rich and diverse range of plant and insect life. In summer the air is filled with the aromatic scent of the many colourful wildflowers, and bees and butterflies abound. This is an ancient landscape, where people lived during the Iron Age, some of whom were buried in the barrows that are dotted across the hilltops.

Unfortunately, the thin chalk soils of this landscape are also very fragile. In wet weather the chalk is very slippery and the grass is easily worn away, putting some of the rarest flowers at risk. Once the bare chalk is exposed it can take decades to recover the rare chalk grassland habitat.

We are increasingly concerned about the erosion taking place during the wet autumn and winter weather. Please keep to the designated paths and follow diversion signs. If the car park is full please come back another time.