Last weekend was sunny, sunny, sunny. Sunshine generally makes me want to leave London and escape the tourists...so I can happily become one myself.
Plus, I needed to see greenery. No, I needed to be surrounded by it. Not in the big parks of London way, which is unusual as a stroll through Regents Park usually satiates my need for green. However, last weekend it didn't work because I needed green country style...and Hatfield House (the childhood home of Elizabeth I, and the place she found out she was Queen) fit the bill nicely.
Situated 21 miles North of Central London it took me 30 minutes to drive in fairly light (for London) traffic. Or, you can get on the fast train at Kings Cross and get to Hatfield station in 20 minutes, and hop across the road to Hatfield House in another 5.
Whether you drive or use public transport it's easy to get to. I should also mention that there is free parking at Hatfield House. Bonus!
Before you go through to the House, Park and Gardens you enter this courtyard with shops, toilets and the restaurant/cafe. After wandering around the courtyard, and then eating my weight in food (sandwich, mug of tea, lemon drizzle cake, Guinness cake and a big old chocolate chip cookie) I finally paid the fare to explore the house and grounds. Considering everything closes around 4 or 5pm it was about time to stop eating, and starting seeing.
You can get guided tours of the house, or get the headset thingies that spout info as you walk around. As I was feeling cheap I didn't opt for either of these but I don't regret it as there are guides in each room who are knowledgeable, friendly and very willing to chat. However, if it is busy you'll be fighting to get to them (especially near The Rainbow Portrait) and if you know nothing about the house prior to the visit (like me) you will want to speak to them.
There is so much history in Hatfield House which is currently the home of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury, and has been in the Cecil family for 400 years, that you will not be able to take everything in at once. I'm already planning my next visit, not just for the grounds but because I want to know more about the house and I can barely remember what I read/heard this time.
Onto the grounds: the gardens had a sculpture exhibition on last weekend (I didn't really get that, but art and I have never been the best of friends) and were gorgeously manicured as expected and very pleasant to walk through.
The Parkland was huge...HUGE! After finding a woodland trail (not really finding considering it is on the map) I thought the parks were much more my cup of tea...and walking through the woods ensured I was truly surrounded by green.
There are 3 routes marked out for the woodland trail. As I was running out of time I opted for the shortest walk which is 30 minutes - next time I'll stop eating sooner and walk a little more.
I enjoyed the woodland hike so much that I forgot to take any photos...which is annoying in terms of this article, but means it really was very nice!