A visit to the Ashridge Estate – 30th October 2012
On the second day of half-term we decided (eventually!) to take Mum out for the day and drove over in the chilly autumn sunshine to visit the National Trust owned Ashridge Estate, located close to Berkhamsted.
It was our first visit to the area, although Mum had been there before, and we arrived around 11.30am.
Ashridge is like no other National Trust property that we’ve been to – it seems a little like a forgotten, poor relation. The Estate covers an area of some 5,000 acres and although it also contains Ashridge House, this is used as a Management Training College and is seldom open to the public. Instead, the facilities consist of a small visitor’s centre including a shop and restaurant.
Once we’d had a look around the visitor’s centre, we decided to join the queue for lunch. The restaurant seating appeared to be all outside, albeit under large umbrellas, and while some of us sat at a table, others queued up to be served a range of hot food.
Although the choice was relatively limited (no children’s menu), the portions were anything but and the girls and Sarah all enjoyed sizeable bacon sandwiches. Emily had opted for beans on toast, I chose scrambled egg and Mum selected tomato soup.
Following our al fresco lunch, Rebekah and Holly decided that they wanted to climb up the 33 metre Bridgewater Monument and I was duly dispatched aloft with them.
I’m not the biggest fan of heights and the 170 spiral steps leading to a small platform behind a simple metal fence at the top was somewhat interesting. The girls of course were fearless and tended to climb on the fence, until I managed to dissuade their enthusiasm. Fortunately my mild acrophobia passed relatively quickly and I was able to take a few photos from the top of the tower, whilst keeping an eye on the girls.
Once safely down on the ground, we ventured onto a woodland trail. This began with a lady storyteller sat by a brazier who regaled an amusing tale for the children about an old lady who made an apple pie containing a piece of sky. Her companion then struck up his banjo and sang the song ‘Froggie Went A-Courtin’.
Once they had finished their entertainment, we set off through the mud with the buggy in tow and walked for around a mile before Sarah, Mum, Holly and Emily turned off towards the start.
Rebekah and I carried on walking on a longer path and gradually the signs disappeared and we were eventually forced to retrace our steps in order to find our way back.
On the way back, we saw a deer and also passed a wood-carver in the woods, who was selling some of his wares.
Eventually we found our way back to the cafe and stocked up with tea and chocolate cake, after our long walk.
We enjoyed our first visit to Ashridge and will certainly visit again at some point.