A walk with steep climbs to a plateau at the top of the hill - a typical country walk
Length: approx. 4km (2.5 miles)
Time: approx. 2 hours
From the A4251 (London Road), turn into the drive signed to Westbrook Hay School (No.1). There is a small parking area after 100m on your left. Follow the right hand fork up the drive. After approx. 200m there is a gate to your right into an open field (Overbourne) (No.2).
Cross the field, heading in the Berkhamsted direction, with the woodland to your left. Pass over a stile in the hedgerow on to the bridleway which passes to one side of the Golf Course. Turn sharp left and follow the bridleway up the hill and through Green Croft Wood.
As you come out of the wood, follow the bridleway to the left and follow the boundary hedgerow bordering Westbrook Hay School (No.3).
Cross the access road and head towards the old barn past the giant sequoia on your left (No.4). As the field opens out, turn right, following the school boundary but rather than walking along the bridleway, wander into the open land of Bovingdon Reach (No.5), keeping the School and Little Hay Golf Course on your right. Enter Ramacre Wood on the bridleway alongside the boundary with the Golf Course.
Follow the bridleway through the wood until a footpath goes off sharp left (No.6). Follow this footpath through the wood, returning to Bovingdon Reach, crossing over a farm track as you go (No.7). Leave the wood and return through Bovingdon Reach, this time further down the hill, via the mown 'walkway' straight ahead of you and half way up the hill. (Go to the bottom corner of the field to join Red Walk) (No.8). Continuing this Green Walk, at the 'crossway', bear right towards the wooded corner of the field, keeping Lower Hay Wood to your right. As you approach Upper Hay Wood, you will see an opening. Here you have two alternatives (No.9). Either walk through Hay Wood on your left, or enter Preston Hill via the kissing gate ahead of you, bear left and and leave through another kissing gate to rejoin Hay Wood. Pick up the track through the wood to rejoin the woodland route.
Follow the track (No.10) to the end of the wood, passing through to Barn Field. Turn right down the hill to the parking area, with the Lime Avenue to your left.
Please note that distances are approximate and reference to metres can also be read as yards.
No.1 - Meeting point with Blue Walk. The avenue of Lime Trees was more of a visual attraction for visitors to Westbrook Hay as it is not thought that it ever actually provided the access way to the house. These ancient trees were shown on the Tithe Map of 1840.
No.2 - Enjoy the view towards Berkhamsted and the Bourne Gutter. On a clear day, you can see the elegant bridge over the A41 near Tring. This field was re-contoured with a chalk overburden taken from the route of the A41.
No.3 - Westbrook Hay House, now a private school, was once the home of the Ryder family who were local benefactors and owned the land which you pass through on this walk.
No.4 - The seat was placed here by the Box Moor Trustees in 1994 to commemorate 400 years of the Box Moor Trust.
No.5 - Bovingdon Reach is a large field in 'set aside' for many years and subject to minimal management to allow natural regeneration of a chalk downland slope with a rich diversity of plants. In the summer, there is a profuse display of butterflies, insects and birds including the clouded yellow butterfly and skylarks.
No.6 - The wood in front of you is Gorsefield Wood, owned by the Dacorum Borough Council. The bridleway continues towards Box Lane and Bovingdon at this point. Bluebells, foxgloves (pink and white), willow herb and many other plants flourish in the glades of Ramacre Wood.
No.7 - You are now in the middle of a very old yew wood, now rarely seen, particularly in this part of the country.
No.8 - The meeting point with Red Walk is approx. 100m down at the bottom of the hill but you need to cross Box Lane on a difficult bend. Please be very careful on this busy road. There is no difference in distance between the two routes. Hay Wood provides a shady walk on a hot day. Preston Hill, normally grazed by sheep, (keep dogs on leads), contains a large depression where the Box Moor Trust is considering introducing a pond. There is an excellent view over Hemel Hempstead from this field.
No.10 - Nesting boxes have been fixed to trees in Hay Wood and owls are commonly seen and heard here at night.