As soon as the weather improves it is time to discover all the outdoor spaces St Albans and the surrounding areas have to offer. Pack a picnic, load up scooters or bikes and see what adventures await you. I have gathered together a list of parks and open spaces in St Albans, as well as Country Parks and Nature Reserves up to 30 minutes from St Albans by car. Finally, for the more adventurous, I couldn’t leave out some gems that are further than one hour’s drive away.
Wherever you decide to go, take provisions (my lot don’t seem to able to survive five minutes without drinks and snacks), clothes for all weathers (hats, coats, sunglasses, wellies, sandals – although thermals and bikinis are optional) and LOTS of small change for car parks.
Westminster Lodge, Holywell Hill, St Albans, AL1 2DL
Just a short walk from St Albans City Centre you will find parkland, lakes and Roman remains in Verulamium Park. As well as enjoying the wide open spaces, you can visit the Verulamium Museum on the edge of the park or have a drink or a bite to eat at the Inn on the Park Cafe. In the Summer the Toddler Splash Park is also popular, so remember to bring a towel or a change of clothes if your kids are likely to be tempted.
Clarence Road, St Albans, AL1 4NF
Clarence Park is minutes away from the heart of St Albans City centre. The formal park is perfect for small people learning to master a scooter or a bike and the children’s play area has a large sandpit, which is very popular with younger children. It is a great place to while away an hour, or more if you take a picnic.
West Lodge, Hill End Lane, St Albans AL4 0RA (8am to 6pm weekdays)
Charters Health Club, Russet Drive, St Albans, AL4 0DB (7 days a week)
On the south eastern side of St Albans you will find Highfield Park. There are cycleways perfect for scooters and bikes as well as footpaths and tracks. There’s lots to explore, from the orchards and the ponds, to the gardens, allotments and the Hertfordshire Puddingstone near the Trust Office at West Lodge. There are shops next to Charters Health Club if you need to stock up.
High Street, Sandridge, AL4 9DQ
Heartwood Forest in Sandridge is managed by the Woodland Trust. Heartwood Forest is not suitable for little bikes or scooters and only take a sturdy buggy or a sling if you have little ones who aren’t walking yet. There is a car park on the edge of Sandridge village and from there, if you walk on the bridleway up the hill, you will eventually meet Langley Wood up some steps on the left. This ancient wood is home to an amazing display of bluebells in the Spring and in order to protect those flowers visitors are asked to keep to the paths. There is also a den building area in the wood and if you need some interactive help getting your family interested in a walk in the woods, you can download a free Nature Detectives Family Trail from the App Store, just search Nature Detectives Family Trail.
Ferrars Lane, Wheathampstead
Between Sandridge and Wheathampstead you will find Nomansland Common. Car parking is available on Ferrars Lane. Once you are parked, cross over the road to find trees perfect for climbing in, woodland to discover and open grassland perfect for picnics. There is a circular walk you can follow here and if you don’t have time to take a picnic then The Wicked Lady public house is perfectly placed for some well earned refreshments.
Radlett Lane, WD7 9DW
Shenley Park is home to the Orchard Cafe and play areas for older and younger children. You can also wander up the drive to the walled garden and in the Spring it is wonderful to walk down blossom-filled paths in the orchard.
If you want to venture further, then you really are spoilt for choice. There are plenty of open spaces to discover and they are either free or subject to a car parking fee, so take small change with you!
Country Parks and Nature Reserves up to 30 minutes from St Albans
Station Road/Marquis Lane, Harpenden
Batford Springs has places to picnic and nature to explore as well as two sets of stepping stones to step across the water. You can pick up a nature quiz from the Gibraltar Castle pub, the Amble Inn or the corner shop on Station Roa,d to help keep everyone busy on your visit.
Stanborough Road, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6DQ
If you are looking for a walk around a lake then Stanborough Park is the perfect location. You can easily stroll around the lakes with a buggy and there is a simple coffee shop where you can sit and take stock on a sunny day. In the Summer the boating lake has rowing boats and pedal boats for hire. Stanborough Park is also home to a Watersports Centre, so take a look if you are looking for something more active.
The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6BX
Sherrardspark Wood has lots of entrances but if you have a little one in a buggy or with a bike or scooter, then the flat path at the back of the Campus West car park is the perfect start. If you stand looking towards the woods with the Cinema and Soft Play City on your right, turn left and keep going along the path. There is a map here which also shows other car parks and routes into the woods. It is worth printing off a map before you go as I have been horrendously lost in these woods… in the pouring rain… with a three year old and I do not wish this fate on anyone else!
Aldenham Road, Elstree, WD6 3BA
Aldenham Country Park is home to Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Aker Wood as well as a small farm, outdoor play areas and you can also book in advance for pony rides. Entrance to the farm, woodland adventure and the pony rides all cost extra on top of the car parking charge, which you pay when you leave the car park, so make sure you keep back enough change to get out!
Whipsnade Road, Dunstable, LU6 2GY
Dunstable Downs offer stunning views and a place to blow away the cobwebs or enjoy flying a kite. When you have had enough of walking you can retreat to the Chilterns Gateway Centre for a warm drink or on a sunny day you can find the perfect spot for a picnic. Dunstable Downs is owned and managed by the National Trust and there are often events on, so check what’s on before you travel.
Watford WD18 7LG
Cassiobury Park is the largest public green space in Watford, offering plenty of space to kick a ball or fly a kite. At weekends and during school holidays you can also find the miniature railway, bungee trampolines, bouncy castles and in 2017 the paddling pools are set to reopen after refurbishment.
Country Parks and Nature Reserves up to 1 hour from St Albans
Berkhamsted, HP4 1LT
Enfield, EN2 9HA
Wendover, HP22 5NQ
Milton Keynes, MK15 0DS
Barnet, EN4 0PS
Bedfordshire, MK43 0PR
Buckinghamshire, HP23 5QG
Brickhill Road, Heath & Reach, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 0BA
Sandy Bedfordshire SG19 2DL
Go Ape Black Park, Black Park Country Park, Black Park Road, Buckinghamshire, SL3 6DS
Nets Kingdom at Go Ape Black Park in Black Park Country Park is a huge network of nets, walkways, treehouses and slides, 30 feet up in the trees! Most suitable for children aged 5-15 years old. Make sure that you book in advance online to secure your session. Click here to read my review of our visit to Nets Kingdom at Go Ape Black Park.
Country Parks and Nature Reserves more than an hour from St Albans
Northampton, NN7 2HX
Braintree CM77 7FS
Thetford IP27 0AF
Wherever you end up, enjoy exploring the outdoors. Take nothing but pictures and memories and leave nothing but footprints.
All information is correct on date of publication, May 2016 .
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