Hatfield Forest Golden Boots walk, Takeley, Essex

Walking trail

The plains at Hatfield Forest can be walked at any time of the year, but are carpeted by over 300 million buttercups in May and June; so this is the time to appreciate them at their best. This National Trust trail takes you through the best places to see the buttercups. There are so many, your boots will turn yellow! During the winter months you will have to book your parking for weekends and school holidays.

Trails status

The trails in the forest can become very muddy during Winter, so this walk is best enjoyed from April to October. In addition, we may have to close some parts of the route, even in summer, to allow the ground to recover. If so, an alternative will be provided.


Map route for Hatfield Forest golden boots walk


Shell House car park, grid ref: TL547203


Starting at the gate to the lakeside area car park, walk to the far left-hand corner and take the path just past a wooden bench. This path can be very muddy at most times of the year. Follow this path until reaching a more open 'ride', with coppice on either side. There is a metal fence on your left. Keep walking uphill until you reach the end of the ride and you see a sheep grazing sign, then turn right and walk straight in a northerly direction.

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Golden Boots walk start point at Hatfield Forest


Continue heading north along the main plain, passing a chestnut paling fence on your left. Cross over the gravel track (which leads to Forest Lodge, a private residence).


Walk past a group of dead horse chestnuts, which are on your right. From here you can see Warren Cottage - another private residence. Follow the gravel track from Warren Cottage and you will shortly reach an estate road. Turn left along this road downhill until reaching the stream with culvert (under the road).

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Picture of a large white butterfly on a buttercup at Hatfield Forest


Walking uphill on the grass beside the road, until reaching a point where the road bears to the right. Do not follow the road, but keeping to the grass, walk straight ahead to a wide 'ride' in front of you. This is known as 'Halfway Ride'.


Continue along 'Halfway Ride' for about ½ mile (800m) to the end, (this may be muddy), and turn immediately right through the gate. You are now on Takeley Hill.

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Buttercups on the Plain at Hatfield Forest


Keeping to the tree line to your right, and looking out for grazing animals, walk straight ahead (south) following the distinct marked path in the grass until reaching the estate exit road. Cross over the road and continue in the same direction until reaching the estate entrance road.


Cross the road, and, in front of you, you should now see a boardwalk. Follow the boardwalk for 220yd (200m) or so, go through the gate and enter the woodland.


Follow the boardwalk to the end, passing the boat hire along the way. Continue along the dam, keeping the lake on your right until reaching the Shell House and café for a well-deserved cup of tea and perhaps a slice of cake!

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View of Hatfield Shell House from side of lake


Shell House car park, grid ref: TL547203

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Hatfield Forest Golden Boots walk, Takeley, Essex


Circular walk not waymarked. Level ground, muddy in places. The walk goes along the grassy plains and woodland paths. Tree roots and gates.

Dogs welcome, but please keep on leads near livestock, around the lake and wherever temporarily signed.

Hatfield Forest Golden Boots walk, Takeley, Essex

Contact us

Hatfield Forest Golden Boots walk, Takeley, Essex

How to get here

Hatfield Forest, Bush End Road, Takeley, Bishop's Stortford, Essex, CM22 6NE
By train

Bishops Stortford, 5 miles (8km) or Stansted Airport Station, 3 miles (4.8km), and thence by bus (see below)

By road

From M11, J8, take B1256 towards Takeley / Gt Dunmow. Follow signs at Takeley.

By foot

Flitch Way (from Bishop's Stortford and Braintree). Three Forests Way and Forest Way both pass through Hatfield Forest.

By bus

The nearest bus stop is The Green Man at Takeley Street.  This is served by Arriva Route 508, from Harlow to Stansted Airport, via Bishops Stortord.  The Forest can then be entered at the northern end, through Takeley Hill gate.  

The bus stop at The Four Ashes, Takeley, has more services, to and from the airport bus station.  The Forest is then about 1 km away, along the Flitch Way.

Hatfield Forest Golden Boots walk, Takeley, Essex

Facilities and access

  • Hatfield Forest Lakeside area National Trust café during opening times (check website)
  • Café Park in Thremhall park
  • Takeley Four Ashes Public House
  • Toilets near the start / finish point
  • National Trust gift shop at Lakeside area
  • Dogs welcome, but please keep on leads near livestock, around the lake and wherever temporarily signed