Explore a woodland sculpture trail in Broxbourne

The Countryside Management Service suggests a walk for all the family in Broxbourne Woods

JUST a short drive from Hoddesdon along Cock Lane takes you into the heart of the Broxbourne Woods area, a remarkable area of tranquil woodlands that belie their close proximity to the busy Lee Valley towns. In fact, when you arrive at the Broxbourne East car park for your walk, it is hard to believe you are less than 15 miles from central London.

Unique to the countyThe woodlands themselves are among the oldest in the country, making them a National Nature Reserve – the only one in Hertfordshire. The county council owns parts of Broxbourne and Bencroft Woods and the Countryside Management Service has opened up a variety of routes including a short easy-access Sculpture Trail suitable for family groups.Here, eight wooden figures and objects depict aspects of the area’s wildlife and how man has used the land. A Roman soldier represents the thousands of troops that marched along nearby Ermine St, the Roman road from London to the north, 2,000 years ago. A wild boar shows the now-extinct ancestor of the domestic pig which rooted the ground for fallen acorns. Elsewhere, a wooden herder searches for cattle he has lost. Near the path is a metal stag but you’ll have to look hard to find him.

Amongst the treesNo matter how hard you look though, you won’t see any trees with really large trunks in Broxbourne Wood. For centuries, the hornbeams have been cut down regularly to provide useful products like firewood for heating homes and powering industries. Every time, the trees have grown again, sprouting numerous stems that are ready for harvesting again after as little as 10 years.In late summer, hornbeam grows distinctive winged fruits which dangle in great clusters from the branches waiting for autumn gales to disperse them. Where they land in clearings, new trees may grow and replace any that have died. However, people have always kept some areas open for growing crops or as pasture for livestock. While volunteers help with smaller jobs in the woods, last winter, contractors felled groups of conifers and the sheltered clearings they have made will be retained to help the comma butterfly. At other times of year, other butterflies like the rare purple emperor and white admiral will benefit.

Perfect for familiesThe Sculpture Trail is short and ideal for families with small children in buggies and wheelchair users but many other, longer walks are waymarked with coloured stripes to cater for the more energetic. Find them on the Countryside Management Service website www.hertslink.org/cms/getactive/placestovisit/broxbournewoods

Start walking

Distance 1km (just over � mile)Rating Easy – surfaced route with gentle slopes suitable for family groupsParking Broxbourne Wood East car park, Pembridge LaneOS Map Explorer 174Grid reference TL 327 069

Find out moreThe Countryside Management Service (CMS) works with landowners and communities to develop projects that enhance landscape and biodiversity, as well as encouraging people to understand and enjoy the countryside across Hertfordshire. For more information contact the CMS on 01462 459395 or email northeast.cms@hertscc.gov.uk