Pete's Walks - Ashridge and Aldbury (page 1 of 3)

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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 roughly 6.1 mile circular walk on Sunday, 9th March 2014. This was a new route for me, though about half was on on paths I'd walked before. It's not a route I'd particular recommend, I just wanted to do a relatively short and local walk on this fine Sunday afternoon, including a few paths I'd not walked before.

There are numerous car parks dotted around the Ashridge estate. For this walk, I parked in the one along the minor road that leads to Aldbury, quite close to the hamlet of Tom's Hill (Grid Reference SP 972118). As I was driving along the road to the car park, I'd had to stop as some Fallow deer started crossing the road ahead of me - I did a rough count and there were about 60 of them.

I took the initially rather vague path leading half-right out of the car park (another path goes half-left). I soon reached a crossing bridleway, where I immediately went wrong by turning left along it. After a couple of hundred yards I realised this was not the way I meant to go, so I turned back to the junction, and continued along the path from the car park (i.e. I now turned left). As so often happens when I get 'temporarily misplaced', I was rewarded by a wildlife sighting that I'd otherwise have missed. I spotted a group of about 30 Fallow deer in the trees ahead of me  - as I stood and watched, they crossed the path ahead of me from right to left, but then must have been spooked by someone or something as they turned round and came back again. They were still stood not too far away as I continued down the path. When it ended at a T-junction with another path, I turned left and then turned right after a few yards (actually I could just as easily have turned right and then left, there was a small triangle of paths here) - the deer must have been spooked by something again, because they suddenly ran across the path just a few yards in front of me, and ran past me just feet to my left, alongside a fence on the edge of the woods.

The footpath from the car park, shortly after crossing the bridleway

 

Fallow deer crossing the footpath ahead of me (obviously I've zoomed in a lot with this shot!)

 

Further along the footpath

 

At the end of the first footpath, I went a few yards left then turned right along this path for a short distance - I turned left just after the tree on the left

 

Just a short way down this path, I turned left and left the woods of Ashridge. The path followed a tall hedge on my right - there was soon a wide gap in this hedge, revealing that I was in the grounds of Tom's Hill House. The path then continued between fences with pastures on either side, before following a left-hand hedgerow through another pasture - the paths weren't generally too bad today, but it was very soggy in the field corner where I had to exit this pasture. I continued along a drive past the few buildings of Norcott Hill to reach the end of a lane.

 

The footpath through the grounds of Tom's Hill House

 

The footpath continuing towards Norcott Hill

 

The footpath continuing towards Norcott Hill

 

The drive on Norcott Hill, that passes Norcott Hall

 

I turned right and headed down the lane, entering what was new territory for me. The lane dropped steadily downhill - I saw a couple of Brimstone butterflies (I'd seen one in the woods, just before I spotted the deer), and then saw some Lesser Celandine. Spring was definitely in the air, and it was great to start seeing some wildlife again. After about a third of a mile, I turned right at a lane junction. I soon saw two more Brimstones and a Peacock, as the lane passed the grounds of Norcott Court on my right. The lane soon turned left and just before it reached a bridge over a railway line, I turned right onto a bridleway.

 

The lane descending from Norcott Hill

 

The next lane, that passes Norcott Court

 

The lane shortly after it turns left

 

The lane approaching the bridge over the railway line - I turned right just before the bridge

 

The bridleway ran beside a fence next to the railway line (two trains went by in quick succession). After a few hundred yards the bridleway turned right, following a fence towards Norcott Court Farm. But after maybe a hundred yards I turned left, onto what the OS map shows is a 'Restricted Byway'.

 

The bridleway running next to the railway line (I turned right along the crossing fence line, then left along the hedgerow)

 

The bridleway running next to the railway line (just before I turned right, where the fence is going right)

 

The bridleway now heading towards Norcott Court Farm - I turned left where the small trees are

Part 2 of this walk

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