Activities for all at Hatfield Forest

Explore the best surviving example in Britain of an almost complete medieval Royal hunting forest. The forest trails are ideal for walking, running, cycling or riding. Try the lake for boating or fishing.

Boat Hire

Boat hire is available from June - September, on Saturdays and Sundays, and daily in the school summer holidays, from 12.00 to 16.00 (last hire). A maximum of four are allowed in a boat, but no dogs. Boats cannot be reserved. The cost is £8 for 30 min.  Please phone in advance (01279 870678) to check availability.

The boat hire operates from a jetty in front of the Shell House.


The Forest is an ideal place for a quiet stroll away from the main lakeside area.  Wander along the main plains or head off into the trees and explore the rides.  

Details of trails in the forest can be found by following the link at the end of this article.  Please not that these are not way-marked.

We would ask that, during the winter months, you avoid walking on the footpaths amongst the wooded areas.  These become very quickly muddy and footfall then causes irreperable damage to the ground.  See Every Step Counts for further information

Health Walks

These walks start from the main entrance car park at 09.45am on Thursdays and take about 90 minutes.  The walks use forest trails and open grassland. Please be aware cattle are roaming free in the forest from May to October.

Dogs are welcome on this walk if they are well trained and obedient.

The walks are free and led by a trained leader.  This is a joint venture with Uttlesford District Council.


Tired of running along roads? Then try the delights of trail running in the Forest. The terrain is generally flat with broad tracks between the coppices.  You can extend your run by venturing onto the Flitch Way at the northern end of the Forest.  Lucky runners may spot fallow deer.

In summer 2018 we will be hosting three events:

Entry for each event is via the organisers website.

Run the forest
Banner advertising half marathon 2018
Run the forest

We are also providing a series of guided runs, about 5km, on a Tuesday morning, starting in June.  Please check our "Whats On" section on the website and Facebook for further details.


The Forest is home to 14 hidden geocaches - see how many you can locate.

Please note that these are removed between November and March, to help protect the forest trails, as part of the Every Step Counts campaign.

Go to or before you visit to download the app. 

Horse Riding

Horses are welcome in the forest and on Woodside Green. Annual permits can be purchased from the Estate Office. In addition, during summer opening hours, day permits can be purchased from the shop. 

Horse boxes can be left in the entrance or Shell House car parks.

Horse riding information (PDF / 0.2MB) download

Day Permit terms and conditions (PDF / 0.1MB) download


The lake contains coarse fish such as carp, roach, perch and pike, including some large specimens.  You can purchase a day fishing ticket (adult £15, concession £10) at the lakeside or a season ticket from the Estate Office.  If you want to fish at night, you must have a season ticket.

The closed season runs from 15 Mar to 15 Jun inclusive.  The pike season runs from 1 Oct to 15 Mar.


You are welcome to come and explore the forest on your own bikes, in summer, when the ground has properly dried out. 

If cycling to the forest, you can enter through the main gate; from the north, through gates on the Flitch Way; or, from the south, through the South gate, just beyond Woodside Green.  

There are no trails as such, beyond the access roads, only the open plains and forest rides. An all terrain / mountain bike is recommended, with heavy duty tyres, as the ground is very uneven in places and there are plenty of viscious thorns to cause punctures.

Bushcraft and Tracking

Come and learn some bushcraft or tracking skills or enjoy a wildcamp weekend.  We host a series of events organised by Woodlife, working in partnership with the National Trust, roughly once a month.  Please check our "What's On" section on the website for further details.