On the last bank holiday in May, we eschewed the traditional lie in and headed out into the sunshine in search of wild orchids, gorgeous views and adventure. We were heading further afield to the BBOWT Dancersend reserve. Not only that, but we were planning on a circular walk that would incorporate part of the Ridgeway and Tring park, both of which were incredibly beautiful places worth a visit in their own right. We parked at the BBOWT car park next to the water works and headed up through the wood to the Ridgeway. We used this invaluable map on the BBOWT website for the 6.5 mile circular walk. A short walk through the village of Hastoe and we came to Tring Park, which was a really amazing space that I’d like to visit again.
Tring Park is managed by the Woodland Trust and it has an amazing history – it basically used to be someones garden! There are loads of things to see while you’re there, not only are there the amazing carvings like the one above, but insects, plants, spectacular views and cows and sheep. (The cows are in the field you walk through so please make sure they, you and your dog stay safe by keeping your dog on the lead.) When we got to the Natural History Museum, we didn’t head to the train station, but carried on heading to Dancersend. The map gets a bit tricky at this point (plus we got impatient and wanted to be the reserve!) but trust the map and you’ll get to the reserve.
We were there quite early on orchid season and since then, the orchids have really bloomed. We spent quite a while looking for these little fellows and thanks to other people who had shared their Dancersend orchid findings on Twitter and Google images, we were able to spot and identify the orchids. The main reason we were there was the amazing fly orchid. I’ve never seen anything like it before! It was amazing and it’s made me a lot more interested in finding and identifying wildflowers. By this time, we were hot, exhausted and hungry. So after a few more hills and stiles, we made it back to the car park. A quick change of shoes and we were back in the car, heading for Hemel Hempstead. Phil had found a veggie cafe that looked perfect for a late lunch.
After finding a parking spot (which are recommended on the cafe website) we arrived at Woody’s cafe. We sat outside with Poppy and enjoyed the comings and goings of life on the canal. We both ordered the roast veg crepe, not quite sure what to expect and we were blown away! It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had and my mouth waters now when I think about it. It was the perfect lunch after our six mile walk. Not only that, but they do amazing cakes which you can take away – make sure you do as they are amazing!
The Walk: I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy. It’s quite hilly (compared to what we’re used to) and despite proper walking boots and insoles, I managed to injure my knee. It was well worth it though, and despite my injury, I’m keen to keep extending our walks.
Car Park: The BBOWT car park at the Water Works is quite small, but we got there early and had no trouble parking. There are others too, it just depends on where you want to start your walk. If you’re just visiting Dancersend reserve, then the Water Works car park is the one you want.
Refreshments: No. We didn’t go into Tring itself, but there are a few cafes in the town. We packed refreshments and there are plenty of spots to stop for a brew from your Thermos. Definitely head to Woody’s if you can.
Toilets: There are some in the Water Works car park, and while they’re perfectly fine, they are a little scary! There are no mod cons but they are useable.