Day Trip to Hatfield Forest

During the holidays, I went to visit the ancient forest of Hatfield, which is over by Bishop Stortford in Essex. This is a really, really large forest, covering over a thousand acres and run by the National Trust, who charged a small entrance fee. It is just over 17 miles away from the school, up by the Stansted Airport M11 Junction.


About Hatfield Forest – Ancient royal hunting forest

Hatfield Forest is the best surviving example in Britain of an almost complete Royal Hunting Forest. It has seen many owners, from Kings to commonors. No other Forest on earth evokes the atmosphere of a medieval hunting Forest so completely.

Hatfield Forest is a managed landscape, which has been created by centuries of human intervention. The traditional woodland management techniques of coppicing, pollarding and grazing are continued today.  It is home to over 3,500 species of wildlife, some of which are rare and threatened. The ancient trees, some over 1000 years old, provide the perfect habitat for some of the Forest’s rarest insects, lichens and fungi.

(Description from Website –

Being a Townie, who loves cities, buildings and lots of people, I find the country a bit daunting, I am not sure about the solitude and stillness of the countryside, so I was not sure what to expect. However, I was pleasantly surprised, experiencing a good range of emotions, from being amazed by the shapes, colours and sizes of the trees, to enjoying the crunching of the sticks under my feet as I walked through the wood.

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It helped being a sunny day, but due to the time of the year there were few leaves on the trees and very few wild flowers. We saw very little of the wild life, other than the standard animals you see in such places.


It was quite spooky in parts, and the quietness was sometimes overwhelming. Some areas had an element of mystery, created by the shapes and positions of the trees. This photo shows a tree who looks like a man!


The sense of history and time was ever present, because of the age of the trees, which were here and established, well before I was born and will remain here well after I have gone.

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On the visit I was surprised how very busy it was in parts, with a wide range of people and many families. There was a main centre, which had a café and shop, which was packed with visitors and children playing. A range of simple walks, some with walkways, used this area as starting point, allowing people to explore the forest. When you wandered off these paths you could easily slip back hundreds of years and be in total isolation.


This usage is partly what the brief and theme is about, the need to attract and interest as many people as possible to use and enjoy these ancient woodlands.


A range of booklets and leaflets were available at the shop, which includes maps, walks and spotting guides.

The following links take you to further photos of the forest:

Hatfield Forest 1

  • Set of 30 Photos in Portrait

Hatfield Forest 2

  • Set of 30 Photos in Landscape

Hatfield Forest 3

  • Set of 27 Photos in Portrait

Hatfield Forest 4

  • Set of 30 Photos in Landscape

Hatfield Forest 5

  • Set of 30 Photos in Landscape


Website –