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Outdoor activities at Ashridge Estate

Visitors exploring the chalk downland at Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire
Visitors exploring the chalk downland at Ashridge Estate | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Ashridge Estate has over 80 miles of pathways. Whether it’s a short stroll or the 17-mile boundary trail, cycle trails on two wheels or four legs on a horse ride, there are 5,000 acres to explore.

BBQs at Ashridge Estate

With the drier, hotter summers we are experiencing, the risk of serious fire at Ashridge Estate increases. In order to protect the ancient woodland and its wildlife, BBQs are no longer permitted anywhere on the estate. If you are bringing a picnic please remember to take all rubbish home with you. Litter left in the landscape not only presents a danger to wildlife but also creates a fire risk particularly during hot weather. Thank you for your cooperation and for helping to care for this special place.

Walking in the Ashridge countryside

There are over 80 miles of designated footpaths and bridle paths for walkers wishing to plan their own route. For those who want a simple waymarked route, the ancient tree-walk and the woodland walk both start and finish at the Bridgewater Monument.

Waymarked walks

There are the options of four waymarked walks for you to follow during your visit. Taking in different parts of the estate, they range from a one-mile family stroll to a heart-pumping eight-mile hike for those who love nature.

Cycling at Wallington, Northumberland in November
Cycling at Ashridge Estate | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Cycling at Ashridge

There are many miles of public bridleways to cycle on at Ashridge. You can either get an Ordnance Survey map before your visit, that will show all these routes, marked with a long green dash, or you can buy an Ashridge cycling map from the visitor centre for £3.99.

Family cycle route

If you're looking for a shorter ride, there is a four-mile route that is suitable for families. Taking you through woodland and commons, you'll see some of Ashridge's best landscapes as you pedal by. The route is marked with red waymarkers and starts near the café as you head down the hill.

Chilterns Cycleway

The Chilterns Cycleway passes right through the estate past the visitor centre, shop and café. Find out more about the Chilterns Cycleway.

Stick to the path

Ashridge is visited by a wide variety of people so to ensure everyone has an enjoyable visit, please use only the designated bridle paths and marked cycle trails. Cycling off these paths can spoil other visitors’ enjoyment of the estate. It also causes erosion and ground compaction.

Safety information

Please keep to the waymarked routes, ride carefully and always give way to walkers and horse riders.

Horse riding at Ashridge

Ashridge Estate is a popular location for horse riders who enjoy riding in the beautiful, historic landscape.

A horse riding permit scheme has operated at Ashridge for many years with permit holders able to ride on permitted bridleways across the estate. We are pausing the riding permit scheme from 1 May 2024 and will instead grant horse riders free access to a revised network of bridleways across the estate.

By providing free access to a simplified network of public and permissive bridleways we hope that horse riders will continue to enjoy Ashridge Estate in a way which minimises damage and allows the sensitive areas of the estate time to rest and recover.

We will be trialling the changes for an initial two-year period during which we will monitor the recovery of the delicate habitats and adherence to the changes.

Find your way

From 1 May 2024, horse riders will be able to enjoy over 22 miles of bridleways stretching across this special landscape including 13 miles of public bridleway and 9 miles of permissive bridleways and permissive horse routes.

The routes have been carefully chosen to help protect sensitive areas of the estate. We ask all riders to keep to the correct waymarked routes to reduce further damage and to allow the delicate areas time to rest and recover.

A waterproof pocket-sized riding map which shows all the bridleways at Ashridge can be purchased from the visitor centre. New waymarkers and signage will be installed across the estate to better guide visitors around the revised bridleway network.

A map of horse riding routes at Ashridge Estate
Horse riding routes at Ashridge Estate | © LUC

Map of riding routes at Ashridge Estate

This map shows the revised network of bridleways at Ashridge Estate. A detailed map can be purchased from the visitor centre.

Riding responsibly at Ashridge

Please follow the below guidance when riding at Ashridge Estate to help us protect this special place:

Keep to the correct waymarked routes
Avoid trails without waymarkers or with a ‘No Horse Riding’ sign
Use the two dedicated car parks
Horseboxes and trailers should park at Barrack’s Square and Ling Ride only
Ride carefully
Avoid galloping, schooling or training your horse anywhere on the estate
Wear personal protective equipment
Including a helmet, high visibility clothing and a body protector
Avoid riding at dusk or at night
To stay safe when visibility is poor
Be kind, respectful and considerate to others
To ensure everyone has an enjoyable visit to the estate
Commercial horse riding organisations require a licence
As with all commercial activity, for the safety of visitors, staff and volunteers, commercial horse riding organisations need to have a formal licence to operate on the estate. These can be requested by emailing ashridge@nationaltrust.org.uk.

We welcome any comments or suggestions about the recent horse riding changes on the estate. Please complete this short survey or contact the Protecting Our Roots team.

School Groups at Ashridge Estate

For visiting Ashridge with schools, we can only offer led visits. Any visits by schools must book in with us prior to arriving.

Led school visits

Fraxini provide taught schools’ sessions at Ashridge. The sessions are run by experienced, DBS-checked, trained teachers and are suitable for all age groups. The activities are closely linked to the National Curriculum requirements for KS1 and KS2 but can be adjusted to work for secondary pupils too. Taught schools’ sessions at Ashridge are based at the Bunkhouse – we have a large classroom with space for storing lunches, coats and bags. There are toilets (including disabled facilities), a secure place for children to play outside, indoor and outdoor lunch areas, free tea and coffee at lunchtime for adults and parking for one coach.

Wild Woods
-walk in the woods, hunt for minibeasts, build a den and make some transient natural art.
Art Attack
-look at the different colours of the woodland, make small and large transient natural artworks.
Green Plants
-learn about the trees at Ashridge, discover how old and how tall some trees are, look at flowers or seeds (depending on season).
Habitats
-investigate woodland and grassland habitats, search for clues to the animals that live in each habitat.
Orienteering
-a half-day activity plotting coordinates on a map and then using the coordinates and map to find letters, pictures or puzzles (depending on age).
Bespoke
-we can plan days to suit you, mixing activities from various workshops or designing something new to match your topic or learning journey.
Early Years
-walk in the woods and listen to a story, then look for minibeasts, make patterns with natural materials and build a den in our new EY area.

To find out more and book your trip, email us: fraxini@btinternet.com

Organised groups at Ashridge Estate

We have recently made changes to organised groups and events at Ashridge to help safeguard the future of the estate. These changes have been carefully considered as part of our Protecting Our Roots project to allow us to manage the careful balance of increased visitor numbers with the impact on nature.

For third-party organised events, we have altered event routes where possible, moved them to Dunstable Downs (another local property in our portfolio), or in some cases, we have had to decline requests. We have also halted our own programme of events since spring 2022 in order to reduce footfall to Ashridge as part of an interim impact mitigation decision.

All organised events must be discussed and booked in with us prior to arriving. Groups will be asked to provide relevant risk assessments and public liability insurance as well as a donation to the estate. To enquire about an event, please email ashridge@nationaltrust.org.uk.

Duke of Edinburgh Award Expeditions

For a number of years now we have been able to allow DofE groups and schools to use our sites carparks for drop-offs and pick-ups.

In light of the amount of DofE bookings we get at Ashridge Estate, we have made the decision to no longer allow drop-offs and pick-ups at Ashridge Estate. Monument Drive is designated SAC (Special Area of Conservation) as well as SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and also part of a historic Design Landscape and we need to look at ways to reduce impact on the driveway and our other carparks. Ashridge Estate is still available for your expeditions but the routes must be kept to permitted footpaths.

For an alternative option, we have agreed to give use of our grass overflow carpark at Dunstable Downs for DofE and school groups to use.

Prohibited activities

We want all our visitors to enjoy their visit but we need to protect the landscape too. We don't allow open fires, barbecues, metal detectors, drones, quad bikes or scramblers anywhere on the estate. We also don't allow model aircraft to be flown unless you are a member of the Ivinghoe Soaring Association. By following these rules, we can keep everyone safe and keep Ashridge special for everyone.

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