Plan your visit to Hatfield Forest

Head for a walk, relax by the lake and enjoy some tempting refreshments from the cafe. Take a moment to plan your visit here. We are now in our regular opening hours, and are open every day from 9.00 to 4.00.

Car parking and when you arrive

The Forest is now open every day.  The Entrance gate closes at 4.00 but once in the Forest, you are welcome to stay until dusk when the Exit Gate is closed.  The cafe closes at 5.00.

Car parking is available by the main entrance gate and in the central area, by the lakeside, cafe and toilets, when the forest is open. The grass park at Elgins is also now in use, as the ground had dried out..

Parking is free for members. Non-members have to pay £8 for their space.

You can pay at the gate or by using the PayByPhone parking app.  If you have not already done so, you are advised to download the app before your visit, as mobile phone signal reception is poor at the pay point.

Please park only in designated spaces. Please do not park on local roads outside the forest, or on roadside verges or across driveways, and observe the red and yellow lines. Blocking roads can cause accidents and we need to have constant access to our site – thank you.


Our lakeside café is open every day, from 9.00 to 5.00. Please ensure that you have checked our opening times before you visit as our hours change seasonally.  Outdoor seating is available whilst the Fishermen's Shelter offers some undercover seating and tables.  Time to indulge yourself with a latte or hot chocolate and a piece of cake or perhaps a hearty one pot?  Sausage rolls and vegetarian pasties are also normally availble.  With the warmer weather hopefully coming, we also have a selection of cold drinks and ice creams

Toilets are open in the lakeside area.

The Shell House and Discovery Room are closed.


To borrow our manual wheelchair or the PMV please email

Mobility parking and adapted toilets are available at the lake area.

What to expect at this special National Nature Reserve

Spring is in the air. The forest floor is turning green, the trees are bursting into leaf. There is a dazzling display of white hawthorn and blackthorn blossom, horse chestnut candles and willow catkins.  In May, the wood pastures are transformed into a golden sea of buttercups.

Our coppicing operations are coming to a close as the nesting season approaches.  You can see evidence of the work of the coppice volunteers in Elgins, as you enter /leave the main area.  The commercial contractors have been operating further afield, in Beggars Hall and Hangmans Coppices.

Look out for the on-going scrub clearance in the area between the car park and the Decoy Lake which is transforming this area. Our aim is to restore this to a more park-like appearance, to complement what we have already achieved in the larger area by the main lake.

The small flock of heritage sheep are rotated around a series of fenced-off enclosures, where they continue their important conservation grazing, nibbling away at any emerging scrub. We welcome back our red poll cattle in May when the ground has sufficiently dried out.  Please keep your dogs on leads and under close control when near the sheep and cattle.

The conditions underfoot are improving, as the ground slowly dries out, but it can still be very poor and muddy.  If you see a path that is closed off or looks particularly muddy, please explore another route.

While Hatfield Forest may look like other forests or woods you’ve visited, it’s actually a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Specific Scientific Interest. There are steps we must all take to look after it and keep it special for everyone.  This forms the basis for our "Every Step Counts" strategy.  Please click here to find out more about this important initiative.