Take a walk on the wild side of East Hertfordshire..

Many older people still love to get out and about, even if that means being pushed in a wheelchair. In East Hertfordshire, there’s plenty of pleasant countrysi they can enjoy.

At Home Instead East Herts and Uttlesford, we love taking our clients out for a wander in the local area, where they can get away from the restrictions of four walls and enjoy the sights and sounds of the countryside. Why not treat your loved one to a trip out to a park or woodland near Hoddesdon, Hertford or Hatfield Heath, and bring a breath of fresh air into their lives? Here are some of our favourites.

Pishiobury Country Park

We love taking our clients to Pishiobury Country Park near Sawbridgeworth for a pleasant walk. It’s steeped in history: in mediaeval times it was a manor, with an estate of over 400 acres of arable land and pasture. In 1534, it was sold to Henry VIII, who gave it to Anne Boleyn. Now parts of the park have been sold off for housing and the manor is used as an office. The park itself is registered as Grade 2 historic parkland, and is surrounded by clumps of trees, hedges and woodland. It’s home to a range of wildlife.

There’s a free car park off the A1184, opposite Hand Lane. There are paths around the park, picnic areas and a pond. You might also see cows crossing the paths, as they’re allowed to graze the pasture at certain times. Dogs are allowed, as long as they are well controlled.

Hatfield Forest

Hatfield Forest is an area of ancient woodland with a herd of fallow deer and some rare wildlife. It’s a captivating place to go with an older person. In the 18th century, it was landscaped by Capability Brown. Now owned by the National Trust, it has lakes and grassland as well as the woodland.

One of the attractions in the forest is Shell House, a Georgian pavilion built in the 1750s and decorated with shells. The house is accessible with assistance. There’s also a café with outdoor seating only (with views of the lake), picnic areas and a Visitor Hub to enjoy. The whole area has been designed with easy mobility in mind – with free blue badge parking (otherwise it’s £8) and drop-off point; level access to the café; an accessible toilet; and wheelchairs and a powered mobility vehicle available by contacting [email protected] in advance.

Broxbourne Woods

Broxbourne Woods is another ancient woodland that we like to visit with clients. Located near Brickendon village, it forms part of Hertfordshire’s only National Nature Reserve, as well as containing a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It’s a great place to have a walk – you might even catch a glimpse of some of the local wildlife (including woodcock, beautiful purple emperor butterflies and great crested newts). There are marked walking routes and an easy access sculpture trail.

There are two free car parks with disabled parking – one off Pembridge Lane, Broxbourne and the other off Brickendon Green. Dogs are welcome in the woodland and there’s good wheelchair access and wheelchair-friendly paths. There’s an easy 1km circuit, but the best direction to take with a wheelchair is anti-clockwise, as this has the lowest uphill gradient  (1:12). There are also regular rest stops.

Thorley Wash Nature Reserve

For the more able-bodied guests, you could always try taking them to Thorley Wash, where you can wander to your heart’s content by the River Stort. This wetland reserve near Spellbrook, south of Bishop’s Stortford, is managed by the Wildlife Trust. It forms part of the wetlands alongside the Stort Navigation. There’s a half-mile walk from Spellbrook Lock along the towpath to the reserve. However, be warned – the paths are unsurfaced and uneven. There are also some steep slopes.

Those who can reach the reserve will be rewarded by sights of the birdlife there – ranging from kestrels, barn owls and snipe through to sedge warblers, whitethroats and blackcaps – as well as a host of wild flowers. Water voles – an endangered species – have also been reintroduced to the reserve, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Cars can be parked at the pub at Spellbrook Lane East.

Dobb’s Weir

There’s a lot for you and your older loved one to see and do at Dobb’s Weir near Hoddesdon. The weir is part of the Broxbourne circular route and a long time ago was a ford – although it wasn’t always safe to cross, as some horses and carts were swept away in floods! Later on, the weir was used for watersports as the gates could be used to create whitewater in the pool below. The area was also a popular place for fishing and river carnivals.

So, why not wander along and enjoy the scenery and the wildlife? However, you might easily be tempted to stray – the 200-year-old Fish and Eels pub is nearby, where you can (surprise, surprise!) feast on fish and chips! There’s a terrace overlooking the river. Also close by is the River Palace Café, where there’s also a handy car park.

Ah, the great outdoors! We hope we’ve whetted your appetite for one or two trips out with your favourite senior. There’s a surprising amount to see around East Hertfordshire, even though it’s so close to London – whether your older relative or friend loves nature, history or just going out for a trip in the open air.

And if you need any regular help with keeping your loved one in their own home, just give us a call at Home Instead East Herts and Uttlesford. We’d love to be able to help you.