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8 family-friendly walks for half term

Short of fresh air and vitamin D since the clocks went back? Round-up the little (and big) ones and give it some welly with these child-friendly walks around the counties.

HERTS

Heartwood Forest, St. Albans

Heartwood Forest, St. Albans, Hertfordshire

A stone’s throw from St. Albans, Heartwood Forest is a great option for all seasons, with excellent bluebells in the spring and a glorious wildflower meadow in the summer. Now though, go for the autumn colour and the easy-to-manage walks for even the littlest of legs. The most popular is the Wildlife Wander, which clocks in at a leisurely two and a half miles.

Southern Country Park, Bishop’s Stortford

Southern Country Parks, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire

There are several circular walks linking the parks and green spaces in this part of Herts, but we recommend the 2.6-miler that takes in the Northern Parkland and Southern Country Park. The latter is an ideal place for families (including four-legged members), as there’s a children’s play area, a lake, a large grassy area perfect for ball games and kite flying, a maze, and even a dog agility park.

Broxbourne Woods, near Broxbourne

Image credit: Terry Blanchard

Covering a sprawling 590 acres, Broxbourne Woods National Nature Reserve is a whopper of a park made up of ancient woodland and plenty of trails. Families are best off avoiding the full 17.5km NNR trail (unless you’re all experienced hikers, that is), but the 1km award-winning Sculpture Trail is buggy-friendly and perfect for a quick jaunt.

Ashridge Estate, Berkhamsted

Ashridge Estate, Herts

You’ll never run out of walks at Ashridge – after all, the estate covers 5,000 acres! There are some good waymarked circular walks ranging from 1 to 8 miles to explore (although buggies and prams aren’t recommended, so leave teeny tinies at home). The 3-mile Foresters’ Walk is particularly beautiful in autumn, as it takes you via Lady’s Walk and the tree-lined avenue known as Prince’s Riding. Keep an eye out for deer on your way round!

BEDS

Buzzard and Bletchley Canals, Leighton Buzzard

Leighton Buzzard canal

The towpaths along the canals here are excellent for a family stroll (especially if you have a pushchair to contend with). There’s a circular six-mile route via Bletchley on offer, but for littler legs you might want to break things up a little. The Three Locks pub in Stoke Hammond has a children’s menu if you’re stopping for a breather.

Rushmere Country Park, Heath and Reach

Rushmere Country Park, Heath and Reach

This one’s ideal for little explorers as you can do as much or as little of the trails as you like within the 400 acres of woodlands. There’s also a fab natural sculpture trail with carved creatures, giant chairs and secret fairy doors, to keep everyone moving along! This 4-mile route takes around 1.5 hours, or you can take the 1-mile shortcut which takes around 30 minutes.

Ampthill Great Park, Ampthill

Ampthill Great Park, Ampthill

Apparently Henry VIII used to use this massive park as a hunting ground, which should give you an idea of scale! Don’t be put off by the size, though – the park is super family-friendly, with a range of well sign-posted trails ranging from 1.6km to 3.2km. Dogs are also welcome, and there’s a useful playground area and cafe if the littlies get bored of walking.

Totternhoe Knolls, near Dunstable

Totternhoe Knolls, near Dunstable
Image credit

Want to wear them out? Totternhoe Knolls is a hilly nature reserve in the Chilterns with a medieval motte and bailey castle to explore, fantastic views, and plenty of wildflowers and butterflies during the warmer months. The four-mile circular will take you roughly 2.5 hours and has some steeper climbs, but is ideal for working up an appetite or burning off excess energy.

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