A walk full of variety – Northchurch to Little Gaddesden

Berkhamsted walk from Northchurch to Little Gaddesden, inc Ashridge Estate and Frithsden Beeches
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More Details

This 13 km walk is full of variety from Northchurch to Little Gaddesden. You’ll enjoy rolling hills, ancient forest and the National Trust’s Ashridge Estate. On top of all that there are some very attractive views of the surrounding countryside.

The highest point on the walk is at 189m but the overall ascent is approximately 289m. So I would rate this walk as moderately difficult considering the length and the number of ascents involved.

We followed the excellent directions provided by Fancy Free Walks. They call this ramble Hertfordshire Commons and Forests. One of the nicests aspect of the walk is the constantly changing scenery.

The start just outside Northchurch

Shortly after leaving the car park you arrive at the open common land of Northchurch Common. This, and the adjacent Berkhamsted Common, was the site of the Battle of Berkhamsted Common in the 1860’s. The conflict was between Lord Brownlow, Ashridge’s owner at the time, who enclosed the commons with fencing and a local radical MP who hired 120 navies to dismantle the fencing. The dispute led to a clarification of the law concerning common land from which we all benefit.

Northchurch Common only part of the variety of views

The next stage takes you into the cool of the woods, very welcoming when the temperature is running in the mid-20s as it was when we enjoyed this ramble.

The walk changes scene as we enter the woods

All these paths are well marked and easy to follow from the instructions available from the Fancy Free web site.

We then came across Ashridge Park and the Golf Club. As you proceed along the track you glimpse Ashridge College in the distance to the right and the monument equally suitably placed in the distance to the left. These two points are connected by the Prince’s Riding path and were certainly part of the house’s grand plan.

Little Gaddesden

After you pass the modern clubhouse you begin to find some very expensive housing in the outskirts of Little Gaddesden. Our walk full of variety continues to weave it’s spell.

One beautiful house follows another until you arrive at the main Nettleden Road that runs through the village. Here you’ll find the Bridgewater Arms. Unsurprisingly it was closed because of lockdown. This was the exact point at which I could have downed a quick pint or similar light refreshment.

We missed making the detour to the local historic church as we were all getting peckish and wanted to sit down. We had our picnic lunch on the grass, marked on the map, which is part of The Golden Valley.

Suitably refreshed, we walked on along the side of the valley, where we again glimpsed Ashridge College in the distance. The trees had been carefully grown to provide you with an enchanting vista.

A walk full of variety now with Ashridge house in the distance

We now ventured out across the open fields rising up to 170 metres and then back down to 120 m in the shade, and then up again. After a short stretch along the side of a large field we entered the ancient woods known as Frithsden Beeches. The Beeches are an important conservation area and have provided the background for many film productions. You’ll notice some unusual tree shapes caused by ancient pollarding.

Concentrate on the directions

It was just after this that we failed to concentrate enough on the Fancy Free instructions and went sadly wrong. You can see on the map above where things went pear-shaped. However after a little delay and much discussion we managed to get back on track. The route led to a steep descent followed by an even steeper rise. Once here we staid along the level with Berkhamsted to our left until we finally back down to the car park we we started.

Another aspect, the waterpower near Berkhamsted

We hope you enjoy the Northchurch too Little Gaddesden tour as much as we did. To many this will be the ideal English countryside.

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