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Outdoor Spaces For Social Distancing


As social distancing has now been implemented across the country due to the coronavirus, us parents may be left in a panic wondering what we can do with the kids without parties, play dates, soft play and the like. However, now that lockdown has been eased, social distancing doesn’t mean we need to hibernate and actually this is the best time of year to get out and visit some of our open spaces and parkland in and around Hemel Hempstead and Hertfordshire. Here we’ve put together some of our favourite outdoor space suggestions and best of all, they're all FREE:

With the ever changing situation, please check the latest information before you travel.

The Nickey Line

This former railway line is now a 7 mile footpath and cycle way that links Hemel Hempstead, Redbourn and Harpenden and is great to take the family for a walk or cycle, particularly as it is steeped in local history. You don’t have to do the whole thing either as there is access points (step and ramp) all along the route. More info here.

Gadebridge Park

Although the splash park and skate park may currently be best avoided during busy times, the rest of the park is great for getting out for a run around. With the River Gade running through the centre there are opportunities for a spot of net fishing or pooh sticks off the bridge. There is also a cycle path which runs from the Bury Lodge entrance (off Queensway) to Piccotts End Road and through to the Leighton Buzzard underpass as well as the beautiful walled garden which is full of flowers at this time of year. More info here.

The Grand Union Canal

The Grand Union Canal runs right through Hemel Hempstead and offers a lovely route to walk or cycle down, particularly if you hop on in Boxmoor and head towards Berkhamsted. There’s lots of ducks and wildlife to spot on route too!


The various moors and meadows owned by The Box Moor Trust offer a variety of different  environments, including watermeadows, woods, pastures, chalk streams and recreational land of which the majority are open access – perfect for an afternoon walk, particularly when the horses and cows are grazing on the moors along London Road. More info here.

Ashridge Estate - Limited parking to avoid overcrowding. The visitor centre, toilets and café remain closed.

Ashridge is filled with walks, including some buggy and wheelchair friendly options but it is also great for just wandering through the beautiful woodland, finding and building dens and also spotting the beautiful wildlife at this time of year. More info here.

Ivinghoe Beacon

233m above sea level, Ivinghoe Beacon is a beautiful spot to see our stunning local countryside with views for miles around. There are also lots of historical points along the walk from remains of an Iron Age hill fort to Bronze Age burial mounds so is perfect for a mini history lesson for the kids too! More info here.

Berkhamsted Castle - NOW CLOSED

Here you will find the substantial remains of a strong and important motte-and-bailey castle dating from the 11th to 15th centuries, with surrounding walls, ditches and earthworks. Why not take a picnic and ‘dine’ at the castle! Open daily from 10am – 6pm. More info here.

Dunstable Downs - Limited parking to avoid overcrowding. The visitor centre remains closed.

Although the visitor centre is now closed as a precaution due to coronavirus, the downs themselves are still open as usual. A renowned spot for kite flying, Dunstable Downs is a great day out to perfect your kite flying skills alongside spectacular views. There are also lots of walks and trails to keep everyone busy if the kite flying fails! More info here.

Whipsnade Tree Cathedral

Whipsnade Tree Cathedral is just that - trees, hedges and shrubs planted in the form of a medieval cathedral. It was made to commemorate fallen soldiers and offers a unique space to explore and reflect. More info here.

Tring Reservoirs

The Tring Reservoirs Nature Reserve is home to a variety of wildlife and is one of the best birdwatching spots in southern England. With April to July being one of the best times to visit, you are bound to see some wildlife amongst the reedbeds and hear or see some rare birds. More info here.

Wendover Woods - open but facilities are limited. Please check the visitor information for updates

Explore the beautiful Chilterns landscape at Wendover Woods with stunning views across the Chiltern Hills. There's something for everyone with a wide range of activities and walks including a cycle trail, Gruffalo Orienteering trail, Shaun the Sheep Farmageddon Glow Trail, a fitness trail assault course and a brand new play trail which runs in an approximately 1 mile loop from the Visitor Hub and includes play features along the way. More info here.

Of course there are lots of other local parks and open spaces for you to explore including Verulamium Park in St Albans or Cassiobury Park in Watford, among others. However the most important thing is that we all stay safe so please do follow Government guidelines regarding your own personal and family health.

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