Family friendly walks in Hertfordshire: near Welwyn, Stevenage and Hitchin

Hints & Tips

I really love being outdoors (luckily, given the year we’ve had), and I am particularly fond of outdoor family photography in Hertfordshire.  With one eye always on the hunt for beautiful new locations to take my clients, I now have a library of family friendly walks near to Welwyn, Stevenage and Hitchin that I can share with you! The ultimate list of family friendly walks in Hertfordshire.

From bluebells to streams, from climbing trees to jumping in puddles: read on for adventures for the family throughout the year. You might find that you love a location so much, that you would also like a family photo shoot there.

These are all ‘wild walks’ so no playgrounds, but plenty to play with in the natural playground!

  • Hitch Woods
  • The Ayot Greenway
  • Codicote
  • St Paul’s Walden
  • Old Knebworth

Hitch Woods – for bluebells and stick house dens

This family walk is 20 mins from Welwyn Garden City, 14 minutes from Stevenage, 10 minutes from Hitchin. This is a short 0.7 mile walk.

When to go:

Hitch Woods is beautiful all year round, but stunning from the end of April until the beginning of June, when a sea of bluebells covers the ground. The land is owned and carefully managed by the St. Paul’s estate, with small paths weaving between the trees and flowers and wider paths taking you on a circular route around the wood. As with any bluebell wood, they urge you to keep off the bluebells as once trampled, they do not grow back. However tempting it might be to take photos of your children lying or sitting in the flowers, please resist! I have some tips about how to achieve the effect of them being amongst the flowers without squashing them here.

Google link: https://goo.gl/maps/7yQSH84sQvsWEnXH8

Where to eat:

There are plenty of little spots for a picnic, including fallen trees to perch on and dens to sit in. It is also a short hop from Emily’s Tea Room in Whitwell, which serves cakes and toasties. The tearoom is worth a visit, as you can wander through the stables along the footpath and see the ponies.

Where to park:

Parking is limited, so I always recommend arriving early in bluebell season. You can usually find a space at other times of the year. There is a gravel car park with space for around 8 or 9 cars, and space along the road.

And if I want to take photos?

The sun streams in through the woods during the morning, and the light at that time of day will give you the most beautiful photographs. Encourage your children to jump off tree stumps, run towards you down the smaller paths and balance on fallen trees for unforced smiles and lots of fun.


The Ayot Greenway – an old railway line with wildflowers, perfect for walking or taking bikes

This family walk is 6 minutes from Welwyn Garden City, 14 minutes from Stevenage, 22 minutes from Hitchin. This can be a medium length 1.2 mile circular walk, or continue along the Greenway for as long as you can manage!

When to go:

All year round. The path does not get overly muddy during the winter, so this is a great walk throughout the seasons. During the summer there are wildflowers, and often a barley field to your right, which can be lovely. In the spring you will find bluebells, and the autumn gives a wonderful display of colour. This walk takes you along an old railway from Welwyn Garden City to Wheathampstead, although I recommend that you join at Ayot St Peter. At the ‘Ayot’ end, there are smaller trail paths off through bluebells. Around 15 minutes into the main walk you will find an old railway bridge to play underneath. Additionally, if you make it all the way along, you will end up at the old station at Wheathampstead, which has been maintained and is a great place to visit with kids.

If you would like to turn this into a circular walk, start on the Greenway as above, turn right into the fields along the footpath towards a large house called Ayot Bury, right along the footpath through their gardens, and back around the side of the field to the Greenway.

As family friendly walks go in Hertfordshire, this is a lovely one.

Google link: https://goo.gl/maps/4VAtPNEWGk21LJ6Q7

Where to eat:

Picnic in in the field or by the bridge, or there are one or two benches along the way. However, if you make it all the way to Wheathampstead there are a number of cafes, or drive home via The Red Lion in Welwyn for a family friendly pub lunch.

Where to park:

There is a gravel car park around 50 yards from the entrance to the Greenway, and a handful of road parking spaces right by the entrance.

And if I want to take photos?

Take advantage of the natural framing of the tree canopy and encourage your children into the centre of the path. Get down low to include the trees and your children in the shot.


Codicote – splash in the river Mimram and play in the woods.

This family walk is 10 minutes from Welwyn Garden City, 13 minutes from Stevenage, 15 minutes from Hitchin. This is a longer 2 mile walk.

When to go:

Lovely all year round, but best in the summer when you can cool off in the river. This walk takes you down an old ‘green lane’ towards the river Mimram, one of very few chalkbed streams in the world. It is very shallow, so perfect for paddling and playing ‘pooh sticks’ on the bridge. Continue up the hill (if you can drag the children away) and turn right along the field, before heading up the lane and into the woodland.

The woods take you up a steep hill where you can find a rope swing and a small BMX track (or sandpit, if you children are small!). Then over the fields at Codicote Bottom with its sweeping views, and along a footpath back to the car. This is one of our favourite family friendly walks in Hertfordshire as the landscape changes with every turn. There is lots to see and do along the way.

Google link: https://goo.gl/maps/kBRvRafESy9xg54W8

Where to eat:

Pick up a picnic at The Farm Butchery or Robarts in Codicote; or treat yourself to a pub lunch at The Goat with its family friendly garden, full of swings and toys.

Where to park:

Leave the car on St Albans Road, near to Dark Lane.

And if I want to take photos?

Plenty of fun photos to be had at the river! Use the leading lines of the bridge to frame your children as they play pooh sticks.


St. Paul’s Walden – two options taking in stately homes, grassy meadows and deer.

This family walk is 17 minutes from Welwyn Garden City, 15 minutes from Stevenage and 11 minutes from Hitchin. This is a longer 1.8 mile walk.

When to go:

These walks are at their best in the summer months. Park in the car park by the church, and two equally lovely walks await you. Turn left down the gravel path towards St Paul’s Bury, which was the childhood home of The Queen Mother and take in the sweeping views and grazing cows and horses. You can get all the way down to Emily’s tea room at Whitwell for a real treat! This is not a circular walk, so you will need to double back.

Alternatively, follow the lane to a gravel track towards The Dower House and Stagenhoe Park, a beautiful old house now used as a Sue Rider neurological hospital. This walk is circular: continue past the Dower House and into the woodland, turn left down through the wooded path, then across and back up the fields to Stagenhoe. In the spring you will find bluebells in the woods, and all year round there are logs to hide behind and bugs to search for in the footpath through the field. If you are lucky you may spot deer and rabbits, too.

Google link: https://goo.gl/maps/e56g7NVK2LxXwsUTA

Walk 1 (non circular)
Walk 2 (circular)

Where to eat:

Picnic along the way in many lovely open spots, or pick up a treat at Emily’s tea room in Whitwell. The Strathmore Arms is next the car park for drinks and crisps, but does not serve meals.

Where to park:

There is a large car park next to the church, the starting point for the walk.

And if I want to take photos?

The sweeping landscapes are great here. Get down low to make the most of the big skies.


Old Knebworth – play in stick house dens and wander through fields of barley or oilseed rape (depending on the time of year)

This family walk is 14 minutes from Welwyn Garden City, 9 minutes from Stevenage, 16 minutes from Hitchin. A shorter 0.8 mile walk, or a longer 1.8 mile walk.

When to go:

This is a good walk throughout the year – a well maintained path in the winter, a yellow sea of oilseed rape in the spring, barley fields in summer and beautiful autumnal colours in October and November. Walk along the track until you reach a cottage – you can turn left into the woodland for a circular walk with plenty of dens and fallen logs to play with. Or turn right into the field and follow the footpath to The Lytton Arms pub.

Google link: https://goo.gl/maps/vPejajCfKUqE2LJ48

Walk 1 – shorter walk 0.8 miles
Walk 2 – longer walk 1.8 miles

Where to eat:

Picnic in a clearing in the woods, or book a table at The Lytton Arms – they do an excellent kids’ menu and delicious gastropub-style food for grown ups.

Where to park:

At the road end of the track, or you can choose to park at the pub and begin your walk from there.

And if I want to take photos?

Oh, so many opportunities here. The path through the yellow rapeseed is beautiful (but be aware that it can make you very allergic if you are a hayfever/asthma sufferer), and again in the barley. The natural tree canopy over the first path provides a gorgeous frame for family photos. Encourage the children to sit on logs and tree stumps and snap that too!

Are you tempted to try one of these Hertfordshire family friendly walks this year? Let me know what you think! And if you would like to book a family photo shoot here or in any other Hertfordshire location, find out more information by clicking through to my website.

Alannah Hebbert – Hertfordshire family photographer

Family friendly walks in Hertfordshire – Welwyn, Stevenage and Hitchin.

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