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Golden Valley at Ashridge Estate Hertfordshire
'Capability' Brown's Golden Valley | © National Trust Images/Graeme Cannon
Essex, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire

In the footsteps of Capability Brown

Discover the Golden Valley, a hidden gem of the Ashridge Estate, on this 4.3-mile walk. Designed by the famous 'Capability' Brown this masterpiece ranks among his finest works. Following historic rides and paths, this route takes you through the faded grandeur of Ashridge Park with stunning views of Ashridge House and the historic deer park. A shorter route is included if you would prefer to just visit the valley.

Total steps: 10

Total steps: 10

Start point

Ashridge visitor centre, grid ref: SP971131

Step 1

With your back to the Bridgewater Monument, walk down what was originally part of Prince's Riding but is now known as Monument Drive, towards the B4506. (For the shorter route, start at Gaddesden Green car park, marked 11 on the map), and the path will take you to the Golden Valley, between Steps 5 and 6.)

Step 2

With care, cross over the busy B4506 road and head around to the left of the wooden fence that blocks your path. This 'deer leap' was part of the perimeter fence of the deer park, which you have just entered. Follow Prince's Riding all the way to the sign for Ashridge House, a short way before the metal fence.

Step 3

Turn right onto the surfaced path around the golf course green. At its end, follow the rough track into the copse ahead. Here, do take a minute to admire the ancient sweet chestnut trees. Follow this track along the boundary between the great lawn (often marked out as a sports field) and the wilder grass until you come to the tree line in front of you.

Step 4

Leave the path that leads into the woods and keeping left, follow the tree line down the slope.

Step 5

Be careful as you cross the road and bear right into the Golden Valley, walking along the valley floor. (This is where the shorter route begins, from the Gaddesden Green car park.)

Step 6

Turn sharp right here, almost turning back on yourself, and follow the path uphill. When this meets the road, turn left and continue along the road to the front of Ashridge House. Feel free to walk on the grass for safety.

Step 7

Continue along the road in front of the house until you come to a right-hand fork with a barrier across to stop vehicles. Nip around the barrier, following the purple 'Bridgewater Monument and Visitor Centre' sign. (If you are following the short route, turn right at the barrier and follow the treeline round the Great Lawn to reach Step 4, then follow the route to return to the Golden Valley and the Gaddesden Green car park.)

Step 8

For the long walk keep straight on, up the track.

Step 9

Where this path touches the corner of a field is one of the best places to see deer on the estate. Continue straight on.

Step 10

You have now reached Thunderdell Lodge: the black and white chequered gatekeeper's house, by the side of the main road. Notice the gates that would always have been closed to keep the deer in. Cross carefully and turn right, following the path along the edge of the road until you reach the bottom of Monument Drive. Follow the drive back towards the Bridgewater Monument.

End point

Ashridge visitor centre, grid ref: SP971131

Trail map

Route map for In the footsteps of 'Capability' Brown walk Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire
Route map for In the footsteps of 'Capability' Brown walk | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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