Hatfield Forest circuit
Best of the Forest plus Wall Wood & Flitch Way
Spring or summer
Ancient trees, wild flowers and birds in Hatfield Forest and Wall Wood.
Three Forests Way (section BC) crosses arable fields that may be ploughed; heavily used paths in Hatfield Forest can get very muddy.
Park at Hatfield Forest, or bus to Green Man, Takeley (near point E) from Bishops Stortford or Dunmow
Largely flat, on well-defined unsurfaced paths, with short sections on road or boardwalk and surfaced along the Flitch Way; a few stiles.
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: Hatfield Forest south
From the car park follow the road into the Forest and turn left after 400m or so on to a boardwalk. This leads into woodland then on to the causeway below the lake. At the end of the causeway follow the grass path round to the left before you reach the teashop, above the lower lake. You bear right through a belt of trees before coming out on to a broad ride, with woodland on both sides. Follow the ride, turning right when another ride crosses, then left again when you come out into an even broader open ride. Follow this ride until just before it opens out, turning right again to follow a narrow ride right to the edge of the Forest, where you turn left to follow a path along the edge to a gate out on to the road.
Stage BC: Wall Wood and Three Forests Way
Turn right and follow the road for 150m, when on the left you will see an entry into Wall Wood. Follow the ride into the wood and turn right on to the main ride through the centre of the wood, from which you emerge into the open grassland of Woodside Green. Follow the Green round to the right and up to the road. A stile leads on to the field beyond it, the footpath following the righthand edge of an arable field then, at the fence corner, cutting diagonally half-right across the next field, heading for the righthand edge of the woodland ahead (if the route across the field is not obvious or looks too muddy, an alternative is to walk to the right round the grass verge of the fields). The footpath continues along a grass track beside the wood until it reaches its end, then crosses an arable field to a stile in the opposite hedge. From here it follows a hedge and stream on the left through a meadow, then over a stile on to The Street. Cross The Street slightly left to a track and follow it past a few houses then past Marston Farm, then across a footbridge to the right of another house on to a grass track. This leads past a plantation and pond on the right up to an angling lake, passing to its right then straight on over a stile, then through a gate and right on a road leading into the yard of Beggar Hall. Cross the yard to a gate opposite and you are back in Hatfield Forest.
Stage CD: Hatfield Forest north
Turn left beyond the gate behind the farm buildings and 20m or so on bear right to follow a ride through woodland. Cross another broad ride and you come out into a clearing containing the Iron Age earthworks of Portingbury Hills, then on until you emerge into an open area known as The Plains. Head across to the other side where you meet Shermore Brook and bear left to follow the footpath beside it upstream. You come to the Doodle Oak a short distance left of the stream. Follow the informal path leading from the Doodle Oak up the lefthand edge of the open grassland to the west (left) of Shermore Brook. The path passes through a gap between woodland and scrub then curves round to the right heading for Railway Gate, an exit gate leading on to the Flitch Way.
Stage DE: Flitch Way
Turn right to follow the Flitch Way with Takeley Street across on your left and the woodland of Hatfield Forest beyond the fence on your right. To visit the Green Man continue until you come to the bridge over the access road, reached from the Flitch Way via a branch on the left before you come to the bridge.
Stage EA: Return via Hatfield Forest
100m or so short of the bridge a gate on the right gives access to a path through open grassland leading past some huge oaks. After crossing the exit road bear left to head back to the car park.