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Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire

Enjoy a day out amongst an ancient forest or discover age-old traditions in a number of quaint, quiet villages in the counties of Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

Places to visit

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Top places to visit in Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire

Sheep grazing on Dunstable Downs, with grassy fields below
Place
Place

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate 

Dunstable Downs is within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The highest point in Bedfordshire, from here you can enjoy views of a landscape that has been sculpted over time.

Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Fully open today
Horse chestnut in autumn at Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, Bedfordshire
Place
Place

Whipsnade Tree Cathedral 

This incredible tree cathedral, made from trees, shrubs and plants, was created after the First World War in the spirit of 'faith, hope and reconciliation'.

Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Fully open today
Tree roots and leaves in autumn at Sharpenhoe Clappers, Bedfordshire
Place
Place

Sharpenhoe 

An ancient woodland and chalk escarpment, crowned with traces of an Iron Age hillfort.

Streatley, Bedfordshire

Fully open today
Trees in autumn mist at Hatfield Forest, Essex
Place
Place

Hatfield Forest National Nature Reserve 

Shaped by people over centuries and home to the rarest species of wildlife and oldest ancient trees, no other forest on earth evokes the atmosphere of a medieval hunting Forest so completely.

Bishop's Stortford, Essex

Closed now
Close up of the exterior of Bourne Mill
Place
Place

Bourne Mill 

A picturesque watermill with working waterwheel a short stroll from the centre of Colchester.

Colchester, Essex

Closed now
A view of Paycocke's, Essex, on street level
Place
Place

Paycocke's House and Garden 

Book a guided experience around this perfectly formed Tudor merchant's house whose walls have more than a few stories to tell.

Colchester, Essex

Closed now
The exterior of Grange Barn in sunshine, Essex
Place
Place

Grange Barn 

One of Europe's oldest timber-framed buildings, Grange Barn stands as a lasting reminder of the once powerful Coggeshall Abbey.

Colchester, Essex

Closed now
Couple walking with their dog on Danbury Common, Essex
Place
Place

Danbury Commons and Blakes Wood 

Explore Essex's second largest area of common land.

Danbury, Essex

Fully open today
Two people in winter coats and hats walk their black dog through winter woodland, with bare trees and brown undergrowth
Place
Place

Ashridge Estate 

Ashridge Estate is a 5,000 acre area of the Chiltern Hills, with ancient trees, rolling chalk downlands and lush meadows in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Near Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

Fully open today
View of the south front of Shaw's Corner, Hertfordshire
Place
Place

Shaw's Corner 

Join a guided tour of Shaw's Corner and learn more about its owner, playwright George Bernard Shaw, who lived here for 44 years.

near Welwyn, Hertfordshire

Closed now

Winter walks in Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire

Banish the winter blues with a refreshing walk in nature. Here are some of our top picks.

Early morning winter dog walker by the beacon at Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire
Trail
Trail

Dunstable Downs countryside walk 

Follow this circular route across the winter landscape of Dunstable Downs. Discover the huge variety of wildlife and burial mounds as you wander through the ancient landscape.

Activities
Walking
DistanceMiles: 6.5 (km: 10.4)
The image shows a view of the iconic Cedar of Lebanon and surrounding trees and ground covered in snow
Trail
Trail

Hatfield Forest walk 

An easy 1.7-mile circular walk through the ancient woodlands at Hatfield Forest, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserve.

Activities
Walking
DistanceMiles: 1.7 (km: 2.72)
Man drinking beer in a pub
Trail
Trail

Bourne Mill pub tour 

This circular, 3-mile walk will take you to some of the most celebrated inns in Colchester, Essex, as well as some of the area's historic landmarks.

Activities
Walking
DistanceMiles: 3 (km: 4.8)
Dappled warm light coming through trees with bright green spring-summer leaves
Trail
Trail

Blakes Wood to Lingwood Common walk 

A 2.5-mile walk from Blakes Wood car park to Lingwood Common near Danbury in Essex that takes in peaceful glades in a woodland with a mix of tree species.

Activities
Walking
DistanceMiles: 2.5 (km: 4)

The coast

Refresh the mind and blow away the cobwebs as you explore the Essex coast.

A view along the coastline of Northey Island, Essex
Article
Article

Plan your visit to Northey Island 

Plan your visit to Northey Island, and discover what you can see and do while you're there.

Woman with a dog at Copt Hall Marshes, Essex
Article
Article

Explore Copt Hall Marshes 

Explore Copt Hall Marshes, a wildlife-rich working farm on the Blackwater Estuary, part of the extensive Essex coastline.

Latest news and projects

A yellow digger stands behind a grey wooden fence which separates it from a newly created pond in the foreground
Press release
Press release

Remote Essex island ‘lets the sea in’ to create new saltmarsh in fight against climate change 

Major works to create and retain swathes of new saltmarsh habitat on a remote Essex island have reached a major milestone, providing a lifeline for the land and its wildlife in a changing climate and in light of rising sea levels.

A flock of dark-bellied brent geese on Northey Island, Essex
Press release
Press release

Numbers of protected birds soar to new record after overhead power lines are removed on remote Essex island 

National Trust rangers at Northey Island in Essex, with support from volunteers, have recorded record numbers of two protected bird species following the re-routing of the island’s power infrastructure.

Protective track mats in midst of trees in ancient woodland at Ashridge Estate
Press release
Press release

National Trust's largest ancient woodland set to be restored on a scale rarely seen 

A major restoration project is underway at the National Trust’s largest ancient woodland, Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, to improve the site’s prospects for wildlife and protect its diverse habitats, which are home to many species that are endangered or in decline.

Project
Project

Coastal adaptation project at Northey Island 

Learn about the major conservation work we’re carrying out at Northey Island in partnership with the RSPB to restore and retain vital saltmarsh habitat in the Blackwater Estuary.

Project
Project

Ashridge Estate - Protecting Our Roots 

We are looking at making changes to the infrastructure across the estate to help manage the careful balance of increased visitor numbers with the impact on nature. Read about the 'Protecting Our Roots' project and find out more about our vision for the future of Ashridge Estate.

Get involved

Volunteer ranger hedgelaying at Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Volunteering in Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire 

Making new friends, working in amazing places, and knowing that you're helping a cause you care about – just three great reasons to volunteer with the National Trust in Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

Visitors on a guided nature walk at Sharpenhoe Clappers, Sharpenhoe, Bedfordshire
Article
Article

Supporter groups in Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire 

There are a number of supporter groups in Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Find out more about what they do and how you can join one near you.

Travelling to National Trust places without a car

Family on a bike ride in autumnal woods, looking at a map
Article
Article

Sustainable travel in Essex, Beds and Herts 

There are a number of sustainable options for travelling to and from the places in our care in Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, whether you’re looking to travel by train, bus, bike or foot. Here’s a little more information that can help you plan your visit.

Upcoming events

Event

Gentle Stroll: to the Knolls for International Wheelchair Day 

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

At Dunstable Downs, different access needs are never a barrier to exploring nature!

Event summary

on
1 Mar 2024
at
10:30 to 13:00
Event

Mother's Day Tea 

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Celebrate Mother’s Day with a delicious cream tea and fizz for two at the View Café.

Event summary

on
9 Mar to 10 Mar 2024
at
11:00 to 17:00
+ 1 other date or time
Event

Heritage Day: Coffee Morning 

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Do you have memories of Dunstable Downs pre-1980? We'd love for you to join us for a coffee and a chat!

Event summary

on
14 Mar 2024
at
10:00 to 11:30
Event

Twilight Night 

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

For a new way to experience Dunstable Downs, join us for a sunset opening during Ramadan!

Event summary

on
15 Mar 2024
at
17:00 to 19:00
Event

Easter egg hunt at Shaw's Corner 

Shaw's Corner, near Welwyn, Hertfordshire

Mr Bee’s long winter nap is over! This Easter weekend, take delight in helping him wake up the rest of his garden friends.

Event summary

on
29 Mar to 1 Apr 2024
at
10:00 to 10:30
+ 19 other dates or times
Event

Easter egg hunt at Dunstable Downs 

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

This Easter, join Skye the Kite on an uplifting family adventure as she takes flight in our vibrant springtime sky!

Event summary

on
29 Mar to 14 Apr 2024
at
10:30 to 16:00
+ 16 other dates or times
Event

Easter Adventures at Bourne Mill 

Bourne Mill, Colchester, Essex

This spring, treat your family to an adventurous trail though our lovely woodland, ending with a chocolate egg for the young ones.

Event summary

on
29 Mar to 1 Apr 2024
at
11:00 to 16:00
+ 3 other dates or times
Event

Children's painting workshop: 'Sky's the Limit' 

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Embark on an exciting journey into the world of art with Colour & Craft Art Parties - a fun-filled painting session perfect for kids of all ages!

Event summary

on
18 Apr 2024
at
16:00 to 18:00
Family walking down the main drive with lady in a tramper at Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire - CTA crop only

Where will you visit next?

Discover lots of gardens, historic houses, days out at the coast and more.