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Walk 235: Heartwood Forest Six Woods Loop

4 miles (6.4km) with 77m of total ascent


One of the entrances to The Magical Wood at Heartwood Forest
One of the entrances to The Magical Wood at Heartwood Forest
This is a lovely walk through five wooded areas on the north-west side of Heartwood Forest and along the edge of a sixth. You will walk through Langley Wood, Round Wood, Pudler's Wood, Well Wood, and The Magical Wood, and along the edge of Pismire Spring.

Despite the title of the walk, only about a third is shaded. The rest follows footpaths through what were meadows and which are now rich in wildflowers.

According to The Woodland Trust, Heartwood Forest is "a vast new forest of more than half a million trees, pockets of ancient woodland, wildflower meadows and fantastic wildlife spotting."

The forest covers 347-hectares (858-acres) of what was once mainly agricultural land as well as several old and ancient woodland areas.

The combined site is now the largest continuous new native forest in England. It includes old established woodlands including Pismire Spring and Langley Wood, and newly planted woodland which has matured well over recent years.

The Woodland Trust says the vast majority of the site allows for dogs to be let off the lead, however there are designated areas where dogs must be kept on leads. They are Langley Wood, the areas of ancient woodland, and in the long grass during the bird nesting season. 

We have been visiting Heartwood Forest for several years and have four more walks that explore the area, see the list at the bottom of this page.

Fly through preview of walk


If you want to check what sort of landscape you will be crossing before you set off on this walk you can view a short 3D video of the route below. It's created using the free version of Relive.


Directions


Map for 235: Heartwood Forest Six Woods Loop
Map for 235: Heartwood Forest Six Woods Loop
Click on the map above for a larger version
Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker
Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors

There is an interactive map below these directions
Those with GPS devices can download GPX or KML files for this walk. We've added What3Words location references for those who use that system. If you print these walks you might want to use the green PrintFriendly icon at the bottom of these directions to delete elements such as photographs.

The walks starts and finishes in the Heartwood Forest car park (location - https://w3w.co/began.mull.tribal) which, at the time of writing at the end of June 2023, was free-of-charge.

Head diagonally west and uphill from the car park
Head diagonally west and uphill from the car park
1: As you face the information circle (location - https://w3w.co/swear.chimp.linen) from the car park take the path that heads W and diagonally left and uphill for 200m until you reach a gate (location - https://w3w.co/deep.lake.actual), see image below.

Go through the gate then turn right on Sandridge bridleway 8
Go through the gate then turn right on Sandridge bridleway 8
2: Go through the gate, turn right on Sandridge bridleway 8, then head WNW and uphill for 275m until you reach a path on the left (location - https://w3w.co/plants.warns.chained), see image below.

Turn left on a path that heads SSW into Langley Wood
Turn left on a path that heads SSW into Langley Wood
3: Turn left on a path that heads SSW into Langley Wood. If you follow this walk in spring you will be treated to a wonderful display of bluebells on either side of the path. The routes through Langley Wood have been roped off to prevent walkers wandering off the designated paths and damaging the plants. Dog owners are asked to keep their pets on a lead when walking through Langley Wood.

After 80m you will reach a junction (location - https://w3w.co/camps.lowest.valve), see image below.

Take the right fork
Take the right fork through Langley Wood
Take the right fork then follow the path WNW for 130m until you reach a junction (location - https://w3w.co/banana.famed.sides), see image below.

Ignore paths to the right and left and continue straight
Ignore paths to the right and left and continue straight
When you reach the junction ignore the paths to the right and left and continue straight following the path as it bends slightly to the right and heads NW for 30m to another junction (location - https://w3w.co/deputy.magic.woven), see image below.

Follow the path as it continues to bend to the right
Follow the path as it continues to bend to the right
Follow the path as it continues to bend to the right then heads N then NNE for 225m until you reach a junction by a bench (location - https://w3w.co/spring.limit.voters), see image below.

Turn left before the bench
Turn left before the bench
Turn left before the bench then head NNE for 45m until you reach the NW edge of Langley Wood and emerge on Sandridge bridleway 8 (location - https://w3w.co/smart.burns.dame), see image below.

Turn left on Sandridge bridleway 8 then turn left through a gate
Turn left on Sandridge bridleway 8 then turn left through a gate
4: Turn left on Sandridge bridleway 8 then head NW for 10m before turning left through a gate. Head SW for 155m until you reach a bench on the right (location - https://w3w.co/fuels.settle.mugs). We spotted a common spotted-orchid along this stretch.

A common spotted-orchid
A common spotted-orchid
Continue for 15m until you reach a path on the right (location - https://w3w.co/gained.polite.tiger), see image below.

Turn right shortly after the bench
Turn right shortly after the bench
5: Turn right then head WNW. This is a lovely stretch edged by hedgerow.

Continue heading WNW for 370m
Continue heading WNW for 370m
Continue for 370m until a track crosses the path you are on (location - https://w3w.co/each.area.rotate), see image below.

Cross the track then continue on a path through the hedgerow
Cross the track then continue on a path through the hedgerow
6: Cross the track then continue on a path through the hedgerow. You will pass a bench on the right (location - https://w3w.co/sings.kick.shirts) then walk across an open field, see image below.

Head NNW across an open wildflower meadow
Head NNW across an open wildflower meadow
Head NNW across a meadow which was a mass of wildflowers when we tested this route in June. Continue for 180m until the path splits (location - https://w3w.co/leaned.flats.merit), see image below.

Take the left fork at the junction
Take the left fork at the junction
7: Take the left fork when the path splits then head NW for 20m before reaching a T-junction (location - https://w3w.co/yards.broom.neck). Turn left at the T-junction on a path that runs along the south side of Pismire Spring, see image below.

Follow the path along the south side of Pismire Spring
Follow the path along the south side of Pismire Spring
Pismire Spring was named after a wood ant called the pismire (formica rufa) which spray formic acid as their defence method. At the time of their naming, some noses obviously likened the smell of their acid to that of urine - hence pis-mire! Walkers needn't worry about getting a dose of the spray while in Pismire Spring, as wood ants haven't been known there for perhaps centuries. Thanks to Phil for sharing the information about the ants in a comment at the foot of these directions.

Spring is the old name given to coppiced woods, usually hazel or hornbeam, which spring back into growth after being cut down.

Follow the path as it heads W for 260m before bending to the right (location - https://w3w.co/desire.muddy.stuck) then heads N for 170m to a gate (location - https://w3w.co/thanks.town.wisdom), see image below.

Go through the gate then head NW to another gate
Go through the gate then head NW to another gate
Go through the gate then head NW for 15m until you reach another gate (location - https://w3w.co/ripe.bills.slam), see image below.

Go through the gate then cross Sandridge bridleway 8
Go through the gate then cross Sandridge bridleway 8
8: Go through the gate then cross Sandridge bridleway 8 to another gate, see image below.

After crossing the bridleway go through another gate
After crossing the bridleway go through another gate
After crossing the bridleway go through another gate then follow the path NE for 1.1km, with the hedgerow on the left and a wonderful field of wildflowers on the right. Continue until you reach a bend (location - https://w3w.co/grass.rate.glitz), see image below.

Turn right at the bend then head SE and uphill
Turn right at the bend then head SE and uphill
9: Turn right at the bend then head SE and uphill for 140m. Take a look behind you to your right as you climb this hill for a view of a meadow full of wildflowers.

The meadow of flowers to the NW of Round Wood
The meadow of flowers to the NW of Round Wood
Continue climbing, with the hedgerow on the left and meadow on the right until you reach woodland. Ignore the first path on the right (location - https://w3w.co/arch.tanks.bounty) and continue until you reach a path leading into Round Wood on the right (location - https://w3w.co/bother.cheer.oasis), see image below.

Turn right into Round Wood
Turn right into Round Wood
10: Turn right into Round Wood then follow the path as it zig-zags S for 130m to a junction (location - https://w3w.co/brass.loses.battle), see image below.

Turn left at the junction then head SE for 20m
Turn left at the junction then head SE for 20m
Turn left at the junction then head SE for 20m until you reach a fence leading to a track (location - https://w3w.co/saints.goes.horn), see image below.

Cross the track then continue heading straight and SE
Cross the track then continue heading straight and SE
11: Cross the track then continue heading straight and SE for 17m until you reach a path on the right (location - https://w3w.co/maybe.moving.path), see image below.

Turn right and head SW
Turn right and head SW
Turn right on this lovely open path and head SW for 325m. You will pass a bench on the left (location - https://w3w.co/pinks.carry.boot) just before you reach a junction (location - https://w3w.co/voters.kept.enhancement), see image below.

Cross the junction then follow the path through Pudler's Wood
Cross the junction then follow the path through Pudler's Wood
12: Cross the junction then follow the path W then SW through Pudler's Wood for 250m until you reach a junction (location - https://w3w.co/chops.create.wacky), see image below.

Turn left at the junction then head S
Turn left at the junction then head S
13: Turn left at the junction then head S for 110m until you reach a junction (location - https://w3w.co/remind.fight.work), see image below.

Cross the junction then continue heading S
Cross the junction then continue heading S
14: Cross the junction then continue heading S, SW, then S. You are now walking through Well Wood which was thought to be the site of an old well which has not been found. What was found was a deep sink hole which The Woodland Trust filled in for safety reasons. Continue along the path through Well Wood for 210m to a fence leading to a junction (location - https://w3w.co/forms.songs.aspect), see image below.

Turn left after leaving Well Wood
Turn left after leaving Well Wood
15: After passing through the gap in the fence turn left then follow the path NE for 480m to a junction (location - https://w3w.co/stands.slower.spine), see image below.

Turn right then right again to enter The Magical Wood
Turn right then right again to enter The Magical Wood
16: When you reach the junction turn right then right again to enter The Magical Wood. Head S for 300m to a junction in the centre of the wood where you will find picnic tables and a tunnel for the little ones to explore (location - https://w3w.co/ticket.strain.backed), see images below.

The tunnel in the centre of The Magical Wood
The tunnel in the centre of The Magical Wood

The tunnel in the centre of The Magical Wood
Inside The Magical Wood tunnel 

After the tunnel turn left then follow the path E
After the tunnel turn left then follow the path E
17: After the tunnel, turn left then follow the path E for 230m. Along the way see if you can spot the worried owl on the right of the path (location - https://w3w.co/fees.pinks.photos), see image below.

The worried owl alongside the path in The Magical Wood
The worried owl alongside the path in The Magical Wood
Continue on this path until you leave The Magical Wood at a wooden arch and reach a junction (location - https://w3w.co/park.issues.vote), see image below.

Go through the arch then take the second path on the right
Go through the arch then take the second path on the right
18: Go through the arch, ignore the first path immediately on your right, and continue to the second path on the right (see orange arrow on the image above).

Head SE along this path for 160m to a junction (location - https://w3w.co/putty.kick.moth), see image below.

Continue heading SE keeping to the right of the hedgerow
Continue heading SE keeping to the right of the hedgerow
19: Continue heading SE keeping to the right of the hedgerow with the meadow on the right and the hedgerow on the left (see orange arrow on the photograph above) for 120m to another junction (location - https://w3w.co/fault.foster.meal), see image below.

Cross the junction then continue heading SE
Cross the junction then continue heading SE
20: Cross the junction then continue heading SE with the hedgerow on the left and meadow on the right for 170m until you reach a junction (location - https://w3w.co/notice.smiled.today), see image below.

Turn right on the detour
Turn right on the detour
21: At this point the path used to continue heading SE, but The Woodland Trust has created a detour in order to protect the habitat in the area. Turn right to take the detour then head S, SE, then E for 120m until you reach a gravelled track (location - https://w3w.co/exist.fence.bronze), see image below.

Turn right on the gravelled track to return to the car park
Turn right on the gravelled track then head S back to the car park
22: Turn right on the gravelled track then head S for 270m to the car park and the starting point.

The Woodland Trust has a map on its Heartwood Forest website showing all the paths. There is also a pdf, which we have embedded below. They ask walkers to stay on the designated paths.



There are three pubs in Sandridge. The pubs are The Green Man (location - https://w3w.co/units.jolly.rail), The Rose and Crown (location - https://w3w.co/truth.bronze.agenda), and The Queens Head (location - https://w3w.co/alarm.solo.decay). The Village Store in Sandridge (location - https://w3w.co/focus.shut.mile) also serves refreshements.

Our other walks in Heartwood Forest


This walk is our fifth route in and around Heartwood Forest. The others are:

Interactive map





4 comments:

  1. We completed this very enjoyable walk on 20 July. It contains a good mix of woodland and open fields. We got into a bit of a muddle in Langley and Pudler's Woods, but soon found our way. The marker post shown in the second photo under 3 had fallen over and been placed away from the path.
    It would be helpful to have the postcode for the starting point to use in sat navs, although for this walk the postcode for the car park led us to Langley Grove, on the wrong side of Sandridge High Street.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Sorry to hear the marker post had fallen down. We use What3Words for reference points instead of postcodes because they are more accurate. Postcodes cover a much wider area. The What3Words reference for the car park is in the directions and is (https://what3words.com/began.mull.tribal). Just enter your destination's what3words address into the what3words app, then tap 'Navigate' to get directions in your favourite apps such as Google Maps, Waze or Navmii.

      Delete
  2. Nice walk and description! Just a minor comment on the wood ants which gave Pismire Spring its name. The ants in question (Formica rufa, as currently known) don't actually spray urine, but Formic Acid, as their defence method. At the time of their naming, some noses obviously likened the smell of their acid to that of urine - hence pis-mire! Walkers needn't worry about getting a dose of the spray while in Pismire Spring, as wood ants haven't been known there for perhaps centuries!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Phil, very interesting. I have added that information to the walk directions (below point 7) and credited you as the source. By the way, if you haven't already done so, please consider joining our members-only Facebook group where people are sharing information, tips and photos about the walks they are enjoying in the Hertfordshire countryside. David
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/hertfordshirewalker

      Delete

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