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Walk 90: Heartwood Forest Loop

England’s largest continuous new native forest

5 miles (8 km)


The wild flower meadows at Heartwood Forest Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The wild flower meadows at Heartwood Forest
Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
A picturesque and varied walk taking in a part of Heartwood that attracts fewer walkers - because it's further from the car park - but which is an area rich in wildflowers and butterflies and well worth a visit. This Woodland Trust reserve has several smaller circular walks dotted around the 347-hectare (858-acre) site all close to the free car park.

Walking towards the newly-planted Community Orchard at Heartwood Forest  Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Walking towards the newly-planted Community Orchard at Heartwood Forest
Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Our route takes in the part to the east of the road where grass meadows have been allowed to grow untamed. In this area you will also find a communal orchard of native fruit trees, and an arboretum laid out with several distinct areas of native trees.

According to the Woodland Trust, Heartwood Forest is the largest continuous new native forest in England; “a place where everyone can find space, peace, wildlife and miles of beautiful woodland to explore.”

This ramble follows the outer edge of the site and goes through the old Hertfordshire village of Sandridge where you can find refreshments (some links to pubs and cafe's below).

Directions


Map for Walk 90: Heartwood Forest Loop  Route in green, shortcut in yellow  Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker  Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors  Note: There is a larger, more detailed map embedded at the end of these directions
Map for Walk 90: Heartwood Forest Loop
Route in green, shortcut in yellow
Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker
Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors
Note: There is a larger, more detailed map embedded at the end of these directions

Park in the free car park in Heartwood Forest (grid ref: TL 16785 10744), accessible from High Street (B651).

1: Leave the car park at the gate just to the left of the disabled parking area at the point where the car park road bends round. Once through the gate turn left and head south-east on the bridleway (Sandridge bridleway 8) until you reach the village of Sandridge at High Street.

2: Cross High Street and walk along Church End until you reach St Leonard’s parish church. Enter the churchyard and walk to the left of the church following the footpath to a metal gate. Cross a small lane, go through another metal gate and turn right on the Hertfordshire Way (Sandridge footpath 18). Follow this path as it heads north-east and reaches Langley Grove.

3: Cross Langley Grove and continue along Sandridge footpath 18 a short distance until you come to a wooden Heartwood Forest notice board. Here you take the left fork and head north through the Community Orchard. Following the path round as it weaves slightly right and then left eventually reaching Coleman Green Lane.

The Arboretum welcome sign at point 4 below Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The Arboretum welcome sign at point 4 below
Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

4: Cross Coleman Green Lane and continue heading north and north-west on a path that will eventually take you to the Arboretum. When you reach the Arboretum welcome board stop for a while and read about the different trees growing in the area. Then continue walking to the right of the sign and following the path around until you reach a wooden gate leading to Drovers Lane.

Fields of wild flowers between points 3 & 5 Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Fields of wild flowers between points 3 & 5
Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Many butterflies in the wild flower meadows between points 3 & 5 Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Many butterflies in the wild flower meadows between points 3 & 5
Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

5: Cross Drovers Lane go through another wooden gate. Continue north-east until you reach a crossing where your footpath meets a bridleway. Turn left on (Sandridge bridleway 7) and follow this path back to the B651.

Wild flowers between points 3 & 5  Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Wild flowers between points 3 & 5
Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Wild flowers between points 3 & 5  Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Wild flowers between points 3 & 5
Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

6: Cross the B651 and walk on the north side of Ferrers Lane for a short distance until you reach a crossing. Cross Ferrers Lane and after a red dog waste bin turn right  and continue walking west though the common land.

7: Eventually you will reach a bridleway. Here you turn left and head south-west until you come to Round Wood. At this point you turn right then north-west for a short distance ignoring the first path on your left. Continue until the path you are on turns left. Follow this path as you head south-west along the western edge of the reserve.

The track between points 7 & 8 Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The track between points 7 & 8Image by Hertfordshire Walker shared via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Optional shortcut


8: At a bridleway crossing continue heading straight and follow the track as it goes first west and then turns sharply and heads south with the forest on your left and the railway track on your right. However if you want to shorten the walk you can always turn left on the bridleway and head south-east back to the car park.

9: When you reach a bridleway T-junction at Cheapside Bridge, go down to the bridge and turn left and follow the Hertfordshire Way east along the south side of the forest (Sandridge bridleway 9). Continue until just before you reach Sandridgebury Farm

10: Continue until you reach Sandridgebury Lane. Here you can turn left where there is a lovely cafe and farm shop. But if you don't need refreshments turn left when you reach Sandridgebury Lane and head north-east until the lane turns right. At this point you take the track heading north past the scout hut and back to the track on the south side of Heartwood Forest. Turn left then first right, enter the reserve and walk back to the car park.

For the kids - and young at heart


While you are at Heartwood Forest take the kids on the Magical Meander and up through the Magical Wood (see map below).

When on the walk see if you can spot the post with the spy-hole and view the wooden owl in the tree beyond.

Or see if the younger ones can spot all the wooden animals along the way. And encourage them to find and read the hidden nature notes that are slotted into some of the posts.

Great fun - and not just for the young.

Animal carvings on the Magical Meander, Heartwood Forest. Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Animal carvings on the Magical Meander, Heartwood Forest. Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Animal carvings on the Magical Meander, Heartwood Forest. Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Animal carvings on the Magical Meander, Heartwood Forest. Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0



Refreshments


There are several pubs, a cafe and shops in and around Sandridge including:



Interactive map





Tips for getting the most out of this site


We have a walking tips page with some suggestions for what you should take on our walks, the recommended maps you should carry, how to print the directions without destroying too many trees, and how to comment and share your experiences for the benefit of other walkers. We want this to be a mutually-beneficial community project with everyone being able to contribute.