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Hertfordshire Flag

One of England’s famous home counties, Hertfordshire is a beautiful blend of rural, open countryside, historic market towns, and buzzing, modern life. Once an escape from London, now a destination for everyone to visit and an ideal place to live and work. With plenty of activities and things to do, Hertfordshire is perfect for exploring and discovering for all the family.

Days out in Hertfordshire

It’s pretty safe to say that Hertfordshire has a lot going on. The cathedral city of St. Albans, together with the larger towns of Watford, Hemel Hempstead, and Welwyn Garden City across the South, all offer a range of fantastic indoor and outdoor activities, attractions, and fun things to do for all ages.

The city of St. Albans has plenty of history on offer, including the cathedral which has the longest nave of any cathedral in England. Check out the city’s traditional street market for all kinds of products and produce, as well as the St. Albans Museum and Gallery for a deep dive into the city’s history and culture. Don’t miss the Verulamium Museum to discover more about the Romans in this part of the world.

Not far away in London Colney, the De Havilland Aircraft Museum is home to a fantastic collection of restored military and civil aircraft. Nearby Willows Activity Farm will keep kids of all ages entertained with farmyard animals, outdoor adventure play and fair rides, and indoor soft play. For Wizards and Muggles alike, The Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Watford will bring all your favourite films to life as you immerse yourself in the iconic sets at The Making of Harry Potter.

Further afield, there are plenty of outdoor experiences to take advantage of in the 126-acre Stanborough Park in Welwyn Garden City - an award-winning countryside park with plenty to see and do, including fishing, nature trails, children’s play area, rowing boats, pedal boats, water walkers and much more.

Hitchen Lavender in Ickleford is 30-acres of outstanding lavender fields that are an incredible sight when in full bloom. Over in Much Hadham, near Bishop’s Stortford, you can visit the studios and take a look at the gardens of the acclaimed 20th-century sculptor, Henry Moore.

You can always just explore the sheer beauty of Hertfordshire’s stunning countryside either on foot or on bike on one of its many trails. With over 208,000-acres of designated green belt areas, much of it in the north and east of the county, it is a fabulous opportunity to discover some of the more hidden historic and idyllic villages including Newnham, Ardeley, and Braighing.

Topography, geology, and climate

As a rural county, Hertfordshire is home to some outstanding landscapes and open countryside. But it also has a range of different land qualities and diverse soil types with a variety of fertility levels.

Reaching across the county from the south-west, the moderately fertile soils are largely clay and loam with a high level of acidity. This changes to highly fertile, lime-rich clay and loam soils across into the east. Along the tips of the far north of the county, there’s a mix of lime-rich soils over chalk or limestone and free-draining lime-rich loam soils, both high in fertility. While lower fertility, slightly acid loam soils compete with slow draining, seasonally wet, slightly acid, base-rich loam and clay soils across the south.

With a warm, mild, and temperate climate, the weather in Hertfordshire is similar to its southern county neighbours. Temperatures in summer have an average of 21ºC (70ºF) while winters have an average low of around 2ºC (35ºF). Annual rainfall across the county varies and averages around 700mm (27”) with a chance of more across the higher ground in the far west over the Chiltern Hills AONB.

Hertfordshire’s parks and gardens

Going hand in hand with the countryside, there’s a fine mix of well known stately homes with notable gardens, as well as some lesser-known, hidden gardens, to visit in Hertfordshire. With none of them being too far from a main town or city, each offers a relaxed day out for families, as well as gardeners and horticulturalists.

North and East Hertfordshire

Just outside Stevenage, you’ll find Knebworth House and Gardens. Famous for hosting the legendary music festival in its surrounding parkland over the years, these historic, formal gardens offer something for everyone. Featuring an original design layout by Sir Edwin Luytens, Knebworth’s 28-acre of gardens include a Gertrude Jekyll-designed herb garden, colourful borders, Sunken garden, Walled garden, and spectacular Rose garden, as well as a maze and a dinosaur trail through the Wilderness garden.

The Gotha Gardens at Pembroke Farm, between Baldock and Royston, are beautiful gardens hidden away in the countryside. With Italianate and Woodland walks leading you through a series of separate, formal garden rooms, these surprising grounds include a Lollypop garden, a Rose garden with over 150 plants, and a Knot garden, as well as lively beds and borders with Gertrude Jekyll-inspired plant schemes.

South and West Hertfordshire

Ashridge Estate, near Berkhamsted, is a National Trust-managed area of woodlands, commons, and chalk downlands in the foothills of the Chiltern Hills. Ideal for exploring on foot, by bike, or even on horseback, Ashridge Estate features miles of trails, paths, and bridleways, giving you every opportunity to enjoy all 5,000-acres. It’s also one of the country’s most popular places to see a thick carpet of bluebells every spring.

An idyllic wedding venue near Rickmansworth, Chenies Manor House ticks all the right boxes, and its beautiful grounds provide a stunning backdrop to visit throughout the year. The gardens have an Arts & Crafts influence and include a Sunken garden, White garden, and Victorian kitchen garden. Overall, the planting schemes include displays of tulips and other bulbs in the spring, beautiful colour throughout the summer, as well as a collection of Dahlia that continue into the autumn.

Cheslyn House and Gardens in the heart of Watford offers a slice of tranquil paradise. Known as one of Watford’s best-kept secrets, this award-winning space has 3.5-acres of gardens that provide colour, texture, and interest all year round. Designed by architect, Henry Colbeck, the gardens feature many exotic and unusual plants alongside stunning examples of azaleas and rhododendrons, as well as large herbaceous borders, rock garden, and woodland gardens. Not to be missed.