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The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trail

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The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 07 Nov 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trailstar1 The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trailstar1 The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trailstar1 The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trailstar0 The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trail
Hertfordshire, Tring
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trail
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trail boot The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trail boot The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trail
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A 4.5 mile circular pub walk from The Akeman in Tring, Hertfordshire. At the Akeman you will find an open fire, open kitchen and open arms ready to welcome you at all times of day. The walking route explores the adjacent Tring Park, one of the largest areas of unimproved chalk grassland in the country, and returns through the beautiful Stubbings Wood, a haven for wild flowers and birds.

The walk follows paths through the parkland and woodland and, whilst these are fairly well made, they can get quite muddy in winter and after periods of rain. There are several climbs and descents throughout. There are no stiles on route but you will need to negotiate several steps and kissing gates. There are a couple of sections of road walking along quiet country lanes so take care of any traffic at these points. The large open grass parkland within Tring Park is used for grazing cattle so take particular care with dogs here. There are public toilets in the car park at the start of the walk. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours.

Tring is located in west Hertfordshire, just north of the A41 and close to the border with Buckinghamshire. The walk starts and finishes at The Akeman pub on Akeman Street. The most convenient car park is The Forge pay and display car park which is accessed from the High Street. From the crossroads of Akeman Street and High Street at the centre of Tring, follow the High Street east passing the Church of St Peter and St Paul on the left. Soon afterwards you will find the entrance for the car park on the left (before you pass the park gates on the right). The car park costs £1.40 for 4 hours (correct Oct 2014). Approximate post code HP23 5AE.

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Walk Sections

Start to A41
Start to A41

Start point: 51.7944 lat, -0.6595 long
End point: 51.7888 lat, -0.6589 long

Leave The Forge car park via the vehicle entrance. Turn right for a few paces, cross the road via the zebra crossing and then turn right to continue along the High Street (on the left-hand pavement). You will pass the Church of St Peter and St Paul across to the right. Further along, take the first road turning on the left, Akeman Street, signed for the Museum and Tring Park. A short way along you will come to The Akeman pub on the left, our host for today’s walk. You can enjoy refreshments here before or after your walk, the choice is yours.

Continue ahead along Akeman Street and you will pass the 1808 brick-built Baptist Church on the right. Take the first side road on the left, signed for Oaklawn. Follow this access road as it swings left to reach Oaklawn sheltered housing ahead. Turn right onto the footpath with a low wall on the left and then keep ahead at the path junction to follow the tarmac path between tall walls.

This path swings right and then heads directly south away from the town. Through the fence to the left are the grounds surrounding Tring Mansion, but you will have much better views of this later in the walk. You will emerge to a crossroads with Park Street, with a beautiful black and white property opposite. Take the footpath ahead, just to the right of the property, signed for Tring Park. The path leads you past sheep pastures on the right to reach a footbridge over the main A41 road.

A41 to Temple
A41 to Temple

Start point: 51.7888 lat, -0.6589 long
End point: 51.7879 lat, -0.6472 long

Climb the spiral steps to reach the footbridge over the A41. As you cross the bridge, look ahead to the main park. You will be able to see the park’s old avenue of trees at about 1 o’clock and a grass footpath heading up the slope at about 11 o’clock – it is this latter grass path you will be joining shortly. Head down the spiral slope, go through the kissing gate (note: you may come across cattle from this point) and walk ahead for a few paces to reach an information board about Tring Park.

Standing facing the board, turn left for a few paces and then keep right at the fork within the grass path. Follow this grass path which leads you first down into a small valley. Just before you reach the valley bottom, look out for an unusual bird peering out from the bushes on the left. Keep ahead up the slope towards the hillside woodland. Tring Park boasts the second largest area of chalk downland left in Hertfordshire.

As you reach the edge of the woodland ahead, pass through the kissing gate and follow the public footpath up the wide slope between trees. At the top of the slope you will find a tall, white obelisk. This is said to be a monument to Charles II's celebrated mistress, Nell Gwynn. Behind the obelisk you will see two main paths through the trees, one at 11 o’clock and one at 1 o’clock. Take the path at 1 o’clock which heads steadily uphill and leads you to the second structure, the temple. The temple (or summerhouse) was probably designed by the architect James Gibbs, whose other work includes St Martin's in the Fields in Trafalgar Square. It is the remains of the frontage from one of the former estate cottages and today stands as a folly.

Temple to Marlin Hill
Temple to Marlin Hill

Start point: 51.7879 lat, -0.6472 long
End point: 51.7773 lat, -0.6633 long

Facing the temple, turn sharp right to follow the wide avenue (still climbing steadily). You will be able to hear a road down to the left. Pass alongside the wide wooden gate and you will emerge to a signed junction of paths. Keep straight ahead along the avenue, signed for the Ridgeway.

Follow this level stone avenue for some distance, ignoring any paths off left and right. This path, King Charles II Ride, is one of the original carriage rides that were laid through the park. It forms part of the Ridgeway National Trail. The Ridgeway, often described as Britain’s oldest road, travels for 87 miles from the Avebury World Heritage Site to Ivinghoe Beacon, just north of Tring.

You will come to a small clearing inlaid with a circular gravel path, marking an original rond point within the ride. At the far edge of this clearing you will find an information board which is the ideal spot for taking in the magnificent expansive views across the park and beyond. It is also the ideal spot to reflect on the history of the park.

Down in the valley you will have a perfect view of the mansion of Tring Park. The mansion was built to a design by Sir Christopher Wren in 1685 and was visited several times by Charles II. The mansion and the surrounding park were owned by a succession of wealthy families, including ancestors of George Washington. In 1872 the estate was bought by the Rothschild family and remained in the family’s ownership until the death of the dowager Lady Rothschild in 1935. As a result of Walter Rothschild’s zoological pursuits, Tring Park housed not only his well known zebras but also emus, rheas and wallabies which roamed wild in the parklands. It must have been quite a spectacle. Over his lifetime, Walter created the largest natural history collection ever assembled by one person, with specimens from some of the most remote parts of the world. Walter Rothschild's natural history collection can be seen in the Natural History Museum at Tring which we will visit later. The mansion was used by the Rothschild Bank during World War II and since 1945 it has been home to a performing arts school. There are many notable former students including Julie Andrews, Sarah Brightman, Valerie Singleton and Caroline Quentin.

Continue along King Charles II Ride. Further along on the left look out for an arched sculpture of branches which sits alongside a kissing gate. Take a closer look and you will see a number of carved animals set within the arch. These woodland chalk slopes are managed by the Woodland Trust, gradually being restored to ancient woodland.

Do NOT turn through the arch, simply keep straight ahead on the Ridgeway path. The path swings left between beech trees and then leads you out alongside a gate to reach a T-junction with a quiet lane, Marlin Hill.

Marlin Hill to Hastoe Grove
Marlin Hill to Hastoe Grove

Start point: 51.7773 lat, -0.6633 long
End point: 51.7774 lat, -0.6737 long

Turn left along the lane, still signed for the Ridgeway, taking care of any occasional traffic. Take the first turning on the right, Church Lane, again signed as the Ridgeway. Follow this lane, passing between the occasional properties of the village of Hastoe. Ignore the first footpath signed off to the right, simply stay on the lane.

On the left you will pass Hastoe Village Hall, an impressive building dating from 1898. The hall was endowed by Lady Emma Rothschild as part of her creation of a mini welfare state around Tring. The Rothschild family transformed Tring and its surroundings, providing employment, housing and improving the social welfare of residents.

At the end of Church Lane you will come to a T-junction. Turn left and then immediately right onto a stone track signed as a Byway. The track leads you past Hastoe House on the left and then Holloway Cottage also on the left. Ignore the first footpath signed off to the left, simply keep ahead to reach a junction of paths with a single property, Hastoe Grove, directly ahead.

Hastoe Grove to End
Hastoe Grove to End

Start point: 51.7774 lat, -0.6737 long
End point: 51.7929 lat, -0.6624 long

Pass alongside the gate to the right of Hastoe Grove and, immediately afterwards, fork right onto the public footpath signed for Hastoe Hill. Follow this path for just a few paces (with a wire fence on the right) and you will reach another signed fork. Take the left-hand fork, a subtle path which leads you through the beech trees.

Stay ahead on this relatively level path as it meanders through trees and scrub. Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1983, Stubbings Wood grows on a steep north-west facing chalk escarpment. It is home to a myriad of wild flowers, butterflies and 53 species of birds including woodpeckers and Britain’s smallest bird, the goldcrest.

Some way along, ignore a path off to the right, simply keep ahead over a couple of small mounds. A few paces later you will reach a waymarker post, marking the point where another path merges in from the left. Keep ahead through the beech trees. At the next waymarker post, keep ahead again and follow the path with a narrow lines of trees to the right and open fields beyond. The path begins to gradually descend. Look out for a pair of white arrows painted on a tree on the left. Fork right at this point to join the path which runs along the left-hand edge of the open crop field.

Follow the line of the woods on the left and then, where the woods step back, keep straight ahead on the grass track between crop fields. Take time to enjoy the expansive views over the rolling hills and valleys of the Chilterns ahead. As you reach the line of a hedge ahead, stay on the grass path which dog-legs left then right to continue steadily downhill with a line of trees on the right. Here you will have a beautiful view over the town of Tring with the obvious landmark of the Church of St Peter and St Paul sitting at its centre.

At the bottom of the field the path swings right, passing an old stile on the left, and runs parallel with the A41 down to the left. Keep ahead to join a concrete slope which leads you through a gate to a T-junction with Hastoe Lane. Cross over the road with care but do NOT take the footpath ahead. Instead turn left along the pavement and follow this under the dual carriageway. Continue to the T-junction with a beautiful row of terraced black and white timbered cottages opposite, Louisa Cottages (another legacy from the Rothschild family).

Turn right and then immediately left into Akeman Street. On the right you will pass the Natural History Museum at Tring. Admission to this museum is free should you wish to visit. Keep ahead along Akeman Street and further along you will come to The Akeman pub on the right for some well-earned hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trail"

This is a lovely walk. I enjoyed every part of the route from the town centre through the park, along the ridgeway and the descent back into Tring. We also had a great lunch in The Akeman (Fish and Chips for me).

By Richard on 2014-11-09 07:57:10

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
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