Pete's Walks - Ashridge

If you are considering walking this route yourself, please see my disclaimer. You may also like to see these notes about the maps.

Google map of the walk

I did this very roughly 5.4-mile walk on Sunday, 25th September 2010.

I had hoped to get up very early and do the walk at first light, to have the best chance of seeing and hearing the Fallow deer rut - the route was my shorter Ashridge walk where I had a great experience of seeing the deer almost exactly two years ago. Unfortunately, on Friday night I had a really poor night's sleep (I woke about quarter to one, and hardly got back to sleep at all afterwards) - as usual when this happens I was OK that day (Saturday) but it was the following morning the lack of sleep hit me. So I didn't actually get up until about 9.15 and started the walk about 10.30. I still hoped to see or hear some deer, but there were so many other people about the deer had almost all retreated to the deepest and darkest parts of the woods. I didn't realise Ashridge was so popular at this time of year - the car park was full when I got there, and when I left there were cars taking almost every place down both sides of the lengthy drive to the Bridgewater Monument. I don't think I've ever seen it so busy, not even at the height of summer.

I saw a large Fallow buck cross the bridleway several hundred yards ahead of me almost as soon as I set off southwards from the drive to the Monument - little did I guess that I'd only have one more deer sighting during the rest of the walk!

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Bridleway heading south from the drive to the Bridgewater monument

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The bridleway continuing after crossing the road to Aldbury

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The path near Northchurch Common

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Path to Norcott Hill

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Path just past Norcott Hill

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Path between Norcott Hill and Northchurch

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Path between Norcott Hill and Northchurch

Between Norcott Hill and Northchurch the path crosses a private drive which is one of the most reliable spots I know for seeing Fallow deer. At first I thought I saw two females here, but on enlarging the photo I could see one was a buck - its antlers are a bit lop-sided, possibly damaged in the rut I suppose.

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Youngish Fallow buck beside a private drive near Northchurch

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View from the Ringshall-Northchurch road, looking west

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Path just east of the road, on the way to Northchurch Farm

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The path just beyond Northchurch Farm - it continues between the fence and hedge and eventually follows left of the hedgeline in the top centre of the photo

It had been a rather grey and gloomy morning at first, but as I made my way from Northchurch Farm towards Coldharbour Farm the skies started to clear and soon it was a very bright and warm day.

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The path continuing towards Coldharbour Farm

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Re-entering the woods just beyond Coldharbour Farm

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The old avenue of Beech trees

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Recently repaired Bridleway back across the Ringshall-Northchurch road

The walk took just over two hours. It was a shame about missing the rut, maybe I'll try again next weekend. In any case it was a very pleasant walk (as always in the beautiful surroundings of Ashridge and the adjoining Berkhamstead (sic) Common and Northchurch Common). The whole route was very familiar to me, but I didn't mind that at all. It was nice to see the start of the Autumn colours in the trees, and to hear the rustle of fallen leaves under my walking boots. And it was a useful bit of breaking in for my new boots and new insoles.

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