Car-free inHatfieldHertfordshire

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Explore Elizabeth I’s childhood home in a historic palace with intricate gardens, miles of parkland, a stable yard full of shops and cafes – and all this two minutes walk from the railway station. Hatfield House is an almost perfect car-free destination. And there are other sights in the area too if you want to branch out, including a working flour mill, a watery country park and a riverside path.

  • County: Hertfordshire
  • Great for: culture | gardens | historic houses | museums | walking |
  • Refreshments: Cafes in Stable Yard at Hatfield House (free entry if you just want shops and cafes)
  • Please note: researched/updated November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch:
  1. 2. Mill Green by bus

    On the banks of the River Lea, about a mile north of the station, Mill Green is a museum and working eighteenth-century watermill.

    • How to get to Mill Green by bus: Buses 301 or 653 both run regularly from outside Hatfield Railway station. Catch the bus to the stop called Museum walk a few steps further on and follow the brown signs down Mill Green Lane (five mins walk).
    • To check whether the watermill will be working, call 01707 357850 on the day. You can buy freshly ground organic flour to take away.
  1. 3. Stanborough Park

    This curious nature reserve, created in the 1970s around two flooded gravel pits, is probably not worth making a special trip for, but it can be a great place to stop off if you happen to be nearby and fancy a swan-shaped pedalo, an ice cream by the lake or a good old-fashioned cup of tea.

    • The drawback is e traffic noise from the nearby main road, but the South Lake, with its rental rowing boats and café, is a bit more peaceful.
    • Kids will probably love the bouncy castles or the hair-raising Vertigo adventure playground by the North Lake: ten meter-high rope walkways, a zip wire and climbing wall.
    • How do I get to Stanborough Park without a car? Follow Good Journey’s instructions. Catch the bus as for Mill Green above and follow the Lea valley Way. From just the other side of the junction near Mill Green (see 2 above), the Lea Valley Way’s swan-logo way marks lead away from the main road into Stanborough Park with its two lakes and a café.
  1. 4. Lea Valley Way

    This 50 mile walking route follows the River Lea from source to Thames. It’s a bit of a mixed blessing in places, passing through some intractably urban areas and close to Luton airport. On the plus side it’s very easy to access by public transport and has some lovely rural stretches along the way.

    • The 10 miles between Hatfield and Harpenden, which also has a station, are among the prettiest.
    • This section of the route starts from Mill Green (see 2 above) and passes through Stanborough Park.
    • Wheathampstead, a large village with pubs, cafes and an unusual church, makes a good halfway point.