Hatfield Forest tree walk Takeley Essex
On this gentle circular walk at National Trust's Hatfield Forest, see a variety of interesting trees that make the Forest a site of great historical and ecological importance, and an easy walk if you don't want to get your shoes muddy....buggy friendly along board-walks and mostly hard surfaces.
An easy walk for the whole family
An ideal walk for visitors using wheelchairs and pushchairs, this walk runs through the forest along flat, easy to walk terrain, mainly on site roads and gravelled footpaths, with a short section on a wooden boardwalk; no muddy trails.
Main entrance car park (A) or Discovery Room next to Shell House (H), grid ref: TL547203
Starting from the entrance car park, turn right out of the car park, go through the gate and follow the access road. Look out for the 400-year-old oak (shown) at (A) on your left, shortly followed by the hornbeam (B) on your right after a right-hand bend in the road.
(A) An impressive 400-year-old oak that hasn't been cut for over 100 years, and is pruned in early spring; look out for prunings on the ground. (B) A hornbeam - look into the crown and you'll see that the branches are quite small. This is because it's a pollard still in cycle.
Follow the road until a field maple (C) on your right. Turn left along the sign-posted boardwalk, looking out for the 400-year-old hornbeam pollard on your left (D) just before the boardwalk bears slightly right, taking you to (E), a huge coppiced field maple.
(C) An incredibly old field maple pollard, now managed carefully to keep it alive for as long as possible. (D) An out of cycle 400-year-old (approximately) hornbeam that has not been cut for at least 80 years. (E) Estimated to be a 1000-year-old field maple. It's a huge coppiced single tree that looks like a group of young trees.
Bear left and follow the boardwalk through the gate and enter the heavily shaded Gravel Pit Coppice. Look out for a coppiced hornbeam at (F). The boardwalk finishes at (G), an area of coppiced alder growing along the dam alongside the lake. Alder was traditionally used for clog-making.
(F) A coppiced hornbeam that's out of cycle as it's not been coppiced for around 80 years. (G) Coppiced alders growing along the dam.
Follow the path alongside the lake until you reach the Shell House and Discovery Room area; ideal for a toilet or refreshment break. Skirt around the rear of this area, looking out for the oak on your right at (H). An apple tree at (I) is on your right, just before the gate. Go through the gate into the car park and turn immediately right onto the road.
(H) One of the largest oak trees in the forest, probably at least 450 years old. (I) An apple tree that's host to lots of mistletoe; the forest is the last mistletoe stronghold in the East of England.
Follow the road from the car park, looking out for the huge cedar of Lebanon tree on your left at (J). Further along the road at (K) note some commemorative trees (young pollards in tree guards) planted across the plain. Shortly afterwards the road turns right and you'll see a small hawthorn at (L), near to the entrance to Elgin Coppice.
(J) The cedar of Lebanon tree (shown) was planted by the Houblon family in the 18th century and acts as a landmark for people walking in the forest. (K) Across the plain you can see the next generation of pollards (in tree guards).
Follow the road to a car park and information point and turn left. Look out for a coppiced hazel on the right at (M). Just past this point turn RIGHT along the entrance road (not the exit route) and look out for an ash tree at (N) that's been cut for safety reasons with a cut known as a 'coronet cut'. Continue along the road back to the entrance car park. Please note: when Hatfield Forest is open, the road is used by vehicles.
(L) Although the hawthorn tree in this picture isn't very big, it's in fact at least 400 years old and is a pollard. Hawthorn trees make up around 42 per cent of all the pollards in Hatfield Forest. (M) A Regularly coppiced hazel. (N) An Ash tree 'coronet' cut for safety reasons; cutting in this way gives the appearance that the tree has broken naturally.
Main entrance car park (A) or Discovery Room next to Shell House (H)
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