Three-in-one woodland walk at Ashridge
This walk skirts three of the smaller commons on the Ashridge Estate as well as crossing a variety of woodland. It can be done in three separate sections. It is a great walk at any time of year because of the variety of the terrain.
Ashridge Estate Visitor Centre, grid ref: SP978125
Standing with your back to the visitor centre, follow the road to your left around the outside of the centre and past the café, into the woods. Once in the wood the path quickly splits. Take the right fork which drops gently downhill.
Views of Aldbury
Along this path a number of view points allow glimpses of the picturesque village of Aldbury in the valley below.
When the path splits again keep straight on, which will keep you on a level path with views towards Aldbury on your right. Follow this path until you come to a junction.
Old Copse is one of our favourite spots on the estate. Here you can see ancient beech trees. This is a real contrast to the regimented plantation beeches that can be seen in other areas of the estate.
Turn left at the junction. You will immediately pass a cottage and come onto a hard surfaced track. Turn left on the track and pass through a gate into the cottage's car park. Pass through the car park onto a wooded avenue. Follow this wide footpath until you come to a junction where five paths meet.
Beyond the gates at Old Copse Lodge you enter one of Ashridge Estate's formal rides. You can still see remnants of the exotic planting which lined the path. These include giant Wellingtonias and yews.
Imagine that this junction is a roundabout. Take the path second left (this would be about 11 o'clock if you prefer the clock face analogy). Follow this path, ignoring cross-paths, until you arrive at tarmacked Monument Drive.
If you would like to return to the visitor centre at this point turn left and follow the drive. If you would rather continue, cross Monument Drive and follow the path to the right of the open area on the other side, as it goes into the woods ahead.
At the first crossroads you come to turn right. Continue ahead until you come to a junction where multiple paths meet and you appear to have two choices straight ahead.
Take the left ahead option. This path very quickly drops downhill and then up again. This is its most distinguishing feature. Follow this path for about ½ mile (800m) as it gradually inclines. Ignore a number of paths on both sides.
When you come to a junction marked with a large number of waymarkers - including bridleways straight on, left and right - and you can just make out the main road to your right, turn left. There are a number of similar looking junctions before this one so it is worth walking on if you are in doubt. If you do walk on and arrive at the back of a set of cottages you have gone too far so turn around and take the first bridleway signposted to your right.
The path will begin to widen and to your right you will see open spaces and you may catch glimpses of a car park. At the junction with the path which comes from this car park you have the opportunity to cut your walk short. If you turn left here and follow the main path as it curves gently to the right you will find your way to Duncombe Terrace. Turning left onto the Terrace you can then follow the well-made track back to the visitor centre. If you wish to continue your walk, follow the path straight ahead. This path will bear slightly right and then straighten out. Ignore cross-paths but keep an eye-out for a T-junction.
Take this right turn. You will very soon be able to see the road and the back of a small car park. When you arrive in the car park you will see a tree plantation ahead of you. This is Dockey Wood.
If you would like to explore Dockey Wood you can cross the road and follow the footpaths within the wood itself. During bluebell season please follow temporary instructions about the use of footpaths as we are trying to reduce the impact footfall has on this very popular area of the estate.
This is a particularly popular area of the estate during bluebell season, and is consequently very busy, however it does provide some of the densest carpets of bluebells on the estate between the rows of beech and oak trees.
With your back to Dockey Wood turn right and follow the road. There is a good sized verge on the left side of the road, but do be careful as this road can be busy at certain times. Follow the road beyond the boundary of the wood and shortly after a footpath sign to your right turn back sharply into the woods on your left. As you make this turn there will be a sizeable wind-blown tree in front of you. The path then leads into a patch of brambles and winds gently downwards towards Duncombe Terrace.
You have now arrived on Duncombe Terrace. Turn left here and follow the track all the way back to Monument Green and the visitor centre: this is approximately 1 mile (1.6km).
Ashridge Estate Visitor Centre, grid ref: SP978125
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