Photo: Mark Seton

Owned by the National Trust, this 1, 049 acres of forest, marsh, lake and pasture is frequented by thousands of visitors each year. There is something rather special about Hatfield Forest as it hasn’t changed much in the last 250 years. It has been remarked that visiting it is like stepping back into the Middle Ages because it still contains cattle, deer, grassland, fen, coppice woods and scrub. This makes it fairly easy for visitors to see what a forest used to look like ‘in use’ during that period.

Between 1086 and 1225 Hatfield was established as a Royal forest and as such has been beautifully maintained throughout the ages. There is plenty of history to see, such as The Warren and Warren Cottage. The Warren was created in an area of existing mounds to encourage the increase of the rabbit population. The Victorian fence columns are similarly visible, as are the huts constructed during WWII to hide munitions destined for Stanstead airfield.

It isn’t just the rich history, however, that attracts so many people. The forest is also a National Nature Reserve and it is home to innumerable species. Among these are deer, weasels, badgers, geese, kingfishers and nightingales – to name but a few! Ideal for nature enthusiasts and those of you wishing to experience the natural world a little closer, this place will give you a real treat.

With its many habitats and unique ecology it is perhaps unsurprising that Hatfield Forest is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. For this reason it is well worth a visit, so why not don your walking boots, go for a wander and see what evidence of the past you can find?

There are miles of walks criss-crossing the area and a café, shop, toilet and interpretation area aimed at improving children’s understanding are located towards the west of the Lake. Two boardwalks have also been constructed to supply easy wheelchair access and the sensory trail is ideal for helping the visually impaired to enjoy the forest.

Hatfield Forest caters for all interests and abilities and promises to be an absolutely first rate day out.


near Bishop’s Stortford

Tel: 01279 870 678

Opening Times: All year round. Cafe & Shop 10am – 5pm.