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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 at Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire
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
The Easter Chapel at Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, Bedfordshire in spring
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
The woodland during summer at Sharpenhoe Clappers, Sharpenhoe, Bedfordshire
Place
Place

Sharpenhoe 

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

Streatley, Bedfordshire

Fully open today
the image shows a lone cyclist riding amongst the buttercups on Takeley Hill
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

Fully open today
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 the exterior of Paycocke's House in Colchester in Essex
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

Fully open today
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
Visitors exploring the chalk downland at Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire
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
Visitors in the garden at 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

Fully open today
View of the causeway across the Blackwater Estuary to Northey Island, Maldon, Essex, at low tide.
Place
Place

Northey Island 

The closest you'll get to true wilderness in Essex

Maldon, Essex

Fully open today

Spring walks in Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire

Feel refreshed with a walk in nature this spring. Here are some of our top picks.

Summer view of Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire
Trail
Trail

Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs 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: 4.5 (km: 7.2)
Woodland pasture carpeted in buttercups
Trail
Trail

Hatfield Forest buttercup walk 

In May and June, the plains at Hatfield Forest are turned into a sea of gold by over 300 million buttercups. It's the perfect time to enjoy this 3.4-mile walk.

Activities
Walking
DistanceMiles: 3.4 (km: 5.44)
A close view of the windows and the plasterwork on the exterior of Paycocke's House, Colchester, Essex
Trail
Trail

Paycocke's Tudor Coggeshall walk 

Get a fascinating insight into Tudor life on this circular walk through Coggeshall from Paycocke's House.

Activities
Walking
DistanceMiles: 2.5 (km: 4)
The garden at Shaw's Corner, Hertfordshire
Trail
Trail

Wheathampstead to Shaw's Corner circular walk 

Walk in the footsteps of the playwright George Bernard Shaw and visit his former home on the Wheathampstead to Shaw's Corner circular walk.

Activities
Walking
DistanceMiles: 7.6 (km: 12.16)

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

May half-term: flying frisbees 

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Who will take the title of ultimate frisbee champion? Come and master our frisbee golf course this half-term!

Event summary

on
27 May to 2 Jun 2024
at
10:00 to 16:00
+ 6 other dates or times
Event

Spinning Weekend 

Paycocke's House and Garden, Colchester, Essex

Demonstrations and cheerful chat with the Mid-Essex Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

Event summary

on
27 May 2024
at
11:00 to 16:00
Event

Gentle Stroll: Woodland and Heathland 

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Share in the joy of the season alongside old and new friends with our circular route around the diverse habitat of Whipsnade Heath.

Event summary

on
28 May 2024
at
10:30 to 13:00
Event

Coggeshall Open Gardens 

Paycocke's House and Garden, Colchester, Essex

Paycocke's delightful Arts and Crafts style garden will be part of this lively, village-wide event.

Event summary

on
2 Jun 2024
at
13:00 to 18:00
Event

Breathwork in the Forest 

Hatfield Forest, Bishop's Stortford, Essex

A relaxing breathwork class, designed to calm the nervous system, clear tension from within and provide space to connect back to the mind, body and soul.

Event summary

on
3 Jun to 29 Sep 2024
at
10:00 to 11:00
+ 15 other dates or times
Event

Traditional Afternoon Tea at the View Café 

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Treat yourself to a traditional afternoon tea overlooking the Downs.

Event summary

on
3 Jun to 31 Jul 2024
at
14:00 to 16:30
+ 42 other dates or times
Event

Quiet Morning 

Paycocke's House and Garden, Colchester, Essex

A chance for sensitive and neuro divergent people to explore and appreciate this elaborate Tudor house at their own pace, without distractions.

Event summary

on
4 Jun 2024
at
11:00 to 13:00
Event

Forecasting for D-Day: the Met Office at Dunstable 

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Join local historian Jean Yates for a talk about the pivotal role Dunstable Downs played in forecasting for D- Day with the Met Office relocated from London to Dunstable.

Event summary

on
6 Jun 2024
at
11:00 to 12:00
+ 1 other date or time
Small girl running between conical topiary hedges in the Cherry Garden at Ham House

Where will you visit next?

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