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My top things to do in Herts, in partnership with 'Helping Herts'


Helping Herts Charity invited me to share some of my favourite things to do in Hertfordshire on a Live Chat to celebrate Helping Herts Week, so I thought I’d share them to help you plan some great days out this summer.

My top 3 places to visit in Herts:

1. Hitchin Lavender, Cadwell

I’m lucky enough to have Hitchin Lavender on my doorstep and it’s a favourite place for us to spend time. There’s obviously the main attraction -  the huge field of lavender – which is stunning for photographs and breathtakingly beautiful to just relax or wander through the pathways to really immerse yourself in the beauty and aroma. It’s great for kids too with a lovely café set within a stunning barn that has both a covered area with a train table for little ones to play at, and an open outdoor area for the kids to run free and climb the wooden fort. In the main field there are also a number of wooden tractors to climb which the kids love, plus there’s more light refreshments available there and a lovely little shop. There are events throughout the summer, including an outdoor cinema, so it’s definitely one to add to your summer list.

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2. Standalone Farm, Letchworth

We go to Standalone most weeks as we’re annual passholders. It’s great value because you can do something different every time you go- sometimes we go to see the animals, sometimes we just play on the play area and have a picnic. It’s the perfect size for little legs- as they can run about, but size-wise it’s not too tiring and overwhelming. The playground was refurbished earlier this year and is one of the best around, with plenty of things to climb, swing on, hide in and even a huge sandpit. Another great thing about Standalone is the fact they have lots of outdoor picnic tables, as well as an indoor picnic barn and café, so there are plenty of options for you to bring your own picnic or get food there. With tractor rides, a woodland walk, nature garden, opportunities to interact with the animals, and a great set of summer events, it’s another top pick for your summer plans.

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3. Bury Lane Farm near Royston

Bury Lane Farm is another favourite of ours as we love somewhere where there are lots of options, so you never get bored. There’s a lovely farm shop and café, plus throughout the year they have different Pick-Your-Own fields: from dahlias to peonies, and strawberries to pumpkins; they’re a lovely opportunity to have some family fun and get some great pictures. The soft play is also one of the best around- all farm-themed and in great condition, our boys love running off steam there and the food is great too! But here’s your summer bonus: there’s an outdoor beach area (see my Tried and Tested review) which can use ALL DAY once you’re done in the soft play (various ticket options apply). With a huge sandpit area, climbing wall, giant bouncing cushion, plus go karting and trampolines (you need tokens for the latter two, which you get as part of your ticket), it’s a great family day out that’s only about 25 minutes from Hitchin.

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My favourite place to walk in Herts:

Oughtonhead Nature Reserve

A real gem within Hitchin, Oughtonhead Nature Reserve has a lot to offer. Most of it is pram-friendly, so it's the perfect location for a stroll with friends with little ones, as there are walk-ways throughout (around and across the common becomes a little tricky when wet).

There are many chalk pools and streams throughout the nature reserve which are beautiful and so precious as, (fun fact for you!), chalk rivers have been described as ‘the most fragile eco systems left’. In fact, there are only 200 left in the world, 160 of which are in the UK, with 12 of them in Hertfordshire, so we’re really lucky! In the summer, you’ll find people paddling and swimming in the clearest of the pools (and lots of dogs leaping in chasing sticks all year round!). In the woods you’ll find trees to climb, streams to explore, a (try it if you dare!) rope swing and a steep slope leading down to the actual source of the river. There is also one of my favourite hidden gems- The Garden Gate Café which is a lovely family-run café, serving delicious food, cakes and drinks at the weekends throughout the warmer months. Check out my review for more information- it’s well worth a visit!

Hidden gems aren’t easy to find, and Oughtonhead Nature Reserve can be accessed from many places- too many to list! My top tips are:

  • Park at the top of Westmill Lane (there are only about 4 spaces) then walk down the track across the road through the open gateway where you’ll come to a cross-path at the bottom and go right, which will take you in to the heart of the nature reserve.
  • If you’re local and on foot, then you can enter at the start of the pathway on Bedford Road, which is on the left if you’re coming from Hitchin, just before the hill climbs up to the mini roundabout where you go right in to Ickleford. Follow that path and you’ll meet the cross-path I mentioned above, by the beautiful farm houses, then just continue straight.
  • Enjoy a play at the park on Swinburne Avenue and go through the gates on the far side of the field from the park, which open directly on to the path around the Common.
  • Park at the top of Redhill Road (follow it all the way to the end where the residential road ends) and park up by the field where you can walk down to the nature reserve. Just keep following the path as it bears off to the left with the Common on your right and it will take you down to the woodland.

Feel free to message me if you have any questions.

A hidden gem in Herts:

The British Schools Museum, Hitchin

Perhaps you’ve heard of The British Schools Museum, so you’re wondering why I’ve included it as a hidden gem- it’s hardly hidden, being on Queen Street in central Hitchin, but do you really know how much it has to offer?

Having opened over 200 years ago as the first "Monitorial School" in Hertfordshire, the furnished classrooms are open to the public and equipped to show the history of elementary education from pre-Victorian times to the late 1960s. There's also the Headmaster's house, set up just as it would have been when he lived there with his family, which the boys and I absolutely loved taking a tour of last summer. It really is a place where young and old can enjoy going back to school, to a place where "Learning Comes to Life" through the amazing volunteers that will entertain, teach and help you experience what life was like at the school.

There are many events running at The Museum too that are well worth going to- from craft sessions, to dance, and even the opportunity to experience living like a Victorian child at the school.

There’s also a Café at the museum that runs regular sessions with parents/carers and their little ones, with everything from gardening to family Sundays with board games, plus seasonal themed events. There’s an indoor and outdoor play area, plus delicious food, cakes and drinks. You can drop in at any point when the café is open.

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Thanks again to Helping Herts for inviting me on their Lunchtime Live- if you missed it, you can listen back on their Facebook post here. You can find out all about their Helping Herts Week on their website here, as there are lots of great events.

They also have a great family guide, which is packed with over 40 pages of ideas to inspire you to explore Hertfordshire. Download yours today for a small donation and support 12 local charities.

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