Travel » Countryside, Food and Glamping in Hertfordshire: A Staycation With A Difference

Countryside, Food and Glamping in Hertfordshire: A Staycation With A Difference

From staying in a treehouse to exploring picturesque countryside and great dining experiences, how do you fancy going glamping in Hertfordshire?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I crave an escape from London. I love the city, but it can all get a bit much! Life moves at a million miles an hour, and it’s pretty hectic.

Over the years I’ve discovered several gorgeous places that are within 30-60 minutes of London. Many are easy to reach by public transport, so you really can be spontaneous and just go!

One of my favourite counties for these London escapes is Hertfordshire. Directly north of the capital, the county is home to picturesque countryside, canals, charming towns and villages and the historic city of St Albans.

St Albans Cathedral - one of the top things to do in St Albans
On a previous trip to Hertfordshire, visiting St Albans Cathedral

Hertfordshire has rolling hills, pretty forests, rivers, canals, lakes and more. When I’m looking for a break from the busy streets of London, the countryside is what my brain is craving!

I’ve just got back from a little Hertfordshire staycation, combining all of the things I love most about travelling in England: food, quirky accommodation and beautiful views! I based myself around Rickmansworth, Croxley and Chorleywood – three small towns that are within a short drive of each other. They’re all on the Metropolitan Line too, making it easy to plan this trip by public transport if you don’t have a car.

Crossing the bridge to North Hill Farm glamping Hertfordshire
Glamping in Hertfordshire was a lot of fun

After a challenging few years, Hertfordshire’s officially back open for business. The county is ready to welcome visitors back to experience its local attractions, accommodation and countryside. It has a lot to offer too, so you really can enjoy trips that are both safe and varied.

Our staycation really was one to remember. So, whether you’re based nearby and fancy finding a few new spots to visit, or you’re looking for a weekend break from London, I hope you enjoy this Hertfordshire itinerary.

The Grove grounds
The Grove has beautiful grounds

Country walks, food and glamping in Hertfordshire

Brunch at Perch and Co, Croxley

It turned out to be International Women’s Day when I stopped by this popular Croxley café for brunch, and what a fitting day to visit! With chef and owner Sophie in the kitchen creating some truly delicious and hearty brunch plates, and her bright and smiley female colleague assisting, it felt like the perfect place to raise a flat white to girl power!

Perch and Co is a cosy café which takes its coffee as seriously as its food. We enjoyed a heady caffeine hit before tucking into tasty dishes from the breakfast menu. I went for the smashed avocado and poached eggs on sourdough, topped with a flew slices of chorizo. Macca ordered the Mexican classic, huevos rancheros.

Brunch at Perch and Co Croxley
Brunch at Perch and Co, Croxley

Both dishes were absolutely massive! This is genuinely the kind of place you could go for brunch and then not need another meal all day. The avocado was delicious, the sourdough light and fluffy with a tasty crust, and the beans in the Mexican dish were sweet yet smoky. Prices were extremely reasonable (especially when you’re used to London prices! at just £6.95.

While the brunch dishes are available all day, there are also some enticing sounding wraps, salads, bliss bowls and quesadillas on the lunch menu. Plus, if you’re craving something sweet, don’t miss the gigantic donuts on the counter!

Perch and Co, Croxley
I really enjoyed our delicious brunch at Perch and Co in Croxley

Perch and Co is located across the road from Croxley underground station (Metropolitan Line) so if you’re planning a trip using public transport, it’s a great place to kick off your day!

Chorleywood circular walk

When I started planning my trip to Hertfordshire, I was excited to get out and explore some of the area’s natural beauty. Plus, I knew I’d need to fit in some exercise to make room for the next meal (priorities, you know!)

I decided to follow the Chorleywood circular, a 9km route (just over 5 miles) that passes through fields, farmland, forests and even takes you along the spectacular Chess Valley. It was lovely to follow the pretty river as it meanders through the countryside.

Chorleywood circular walk
The Chorleywood circular walk offered great views of Hertfordshire

I used this map on All Trails which was nice and easy to follow.

Highlights included:

  • The lovely pond area in Sarratt, where I remember seeing kids paddling in the summer months when I went on the Chess Valley Walk.
  • The country views towards Goldingtons, the huge white manor house on the hill.
  • The quaint villages of Sarratt and Chenies.
  • The woods on the way back towards Sarratt at the end.
River views on the Chorleywood circular walk
River views on the Chorleywood circular walk

The walk took us around three hours in total. We stopped for a drink at 16th century pub, The Red Lion in Chenies, which was around the halfway point. Another great option, a little earlier on the route is The Cock Inn in Sarratt. This pub has a varied menu and looked like it had a lot of charm! If you fancy following this walk, read this walking guide on the Great British Bucket List.

If you’re looking for shorter walks in this area, you could simply explore Chorleywood common and the woodland around it.

Visiting Rickmansworth Aquadrome

Another lovely spot for a walk within nature is the Rickmansworth Aquadrome. Here you’ll find a huge public park, nature reserve and two large lakes. If you like water sports you can try activities such as water skiing, canoeing and sailing.

For me though, I loved walking around the perimeter of the lakes, watching the swans, geese and ducks splashing around on the surface. We were lucky enough to visit on a really sunny day and the lakes looked absolutely magnificent, with a calm, glassy surface, and twinkling water.

Rickmansworth Aquadrome, Hertfordshire
Rickmansworth Aquadrome is a lovely place to visit in Hertfordshire

We also stopped by The Café in the Park for a quick coffee and a cake. The menu here is really interesting! It’s a long way from a traditional park café that serves greasy sausage rolls and ice creams! Here, there’s a dedication to vegetarian and vegan food, and the menu is anything but dull or bland. Think oyster mushroom tacos, pumpkin hummus, Asian miso broth and interesting salads. There are a few meat options too, but the best food I’ve tasted at this café was vegetarian!

As we were looking for a mid-afternoon snack, we ordered a brownie and a courgette and lime cake, which was absolutely delicious! The cake itself was so light and airy, like a little fluffy cloud.

Glamping at North Hill Farm

I got a bit giddy as we drove along the country lane to reach North Hill Farm. We were checking into a treehouse for the night! I’ve stayed in a lot of cute and quirky accommodation around the UK, but I’ve never stayed in a treehouse. I couldn’t wait to see it for myself!

Bridge to our treehouse in North Hill Farm
Glamping in Hertfordshire at North Hill Farm

We arrived at the Squirrel Run, our home for the evening, and I was in awe of its amazing architecture! To reach the treehouse (which is on 5 metre stilts up in the trees) you have to cross a suspension bridge. What fun! At the base you’ll find an outdoor seating area with a big wooden swing, fire pit and BBQ.  

After crossing the wobbly suspension bridge, we opened the door to find a comfortable double bed, en-suite toilet and a balcony area with outdoor shower and a hot tub. It had everything we needed for a relaxing stay. I was glued to the view, as the treehouse has a prime vistas over the serene Hertfordshire countryside.

To be honest, this place is even more magical than the photos could ever show, but they give you a good idea of what it’s like inside and out. We had a very relaxing night, using the hot tub a couple of times (once at sunset and once after dark) and snuggling up in our cosy little house in the trees. I loved listening to the sounds of nature all around, as birds tweeted and smaller animals scurried below on the forest floor. We even spotted a badger close by while we were in the hot tub at night.

Hot tub, North Hill Farm glamping Hertfordshire
Glamping with a hot tub in Hertfordshire – what an experience!

North Hill Farm is home to several types of quirky accommodation. There’s the Owl’s Lookout, which is ideal for families as it sleeps six people. All the bedrooms are circular and the wooden structure resembles an owl. There’s a sauna and a slide too!

Owls Lookout, North Hill Farm glamping Hertfordshire
Owls Lookout, North Hill Farm in Hertfordshire

Other accommodation includes a cute hut that looks like something from Harry Potter, a shepherd’s hut and even a beehive, complete with circular bed and honeycomb details. This place really does have a bit of magic to it, so be sure to look at their website to see what’s available for your trip.

Dinner at a local pub

There are absolutely loads of great pubs in this part of Hertfordshire. Many have an emphasis on gastronomy and make use of local, seasonal ingredients.

The Artichoke on the Green is a pretty pub located on Croxley Green. When we arrived for dinner it had a lovely warm glow to it, with ambient lighting and candles flickering on the tables. As well as the main restaurant and bar areas, there’s also a large covered area outside which is ideal for parties, and a beer garden which is popular in the summer.

Chefs here source some of their ingredients from Flourish Bakery (Watford) and Sparshott Fruiterer (St Albans). I ordered the catch of the day, which was a large fillet of sea bass, served with a chilli butter, charred courgettes, broccoli and a potato gratin. It was a really well-balanced dish, and substantial too.

The Artichoke on the Green, Croxley
The Artichoke on the Green is a cosy pub in Croxley
Dinner at Artichoke on the Green
We had dinner at The Artichoke on the Green

Macca enjoyed steak and chips with a rich béarnaise sauce. We also squeezed in a dessert of lemon meringue tart and a cheese board. I’ll admit we asked for most of the cheese board to be boxed up as it was so generous!

Seabass at Artichoke on the Green
This seabass dish was lovely

Breakfast at The Grove

Before heading back to London, we stopped by 5* luxury hotel The Grove. I stayed here a few years ago on another delightful little escape from London! You can read more about my experience here.

Walking around The Grove
Walking around the chic grounds at The Grove

This large country hotel is set in 300-acre grounds with a top spa, 18-hole golf course, great dining options and even its very own beach. There are several walking trails around the grounds too. After taking in the views around the main building (which dates back to the 1700s), we headed off in search of the ‘musical trail’ in the woodland area. It was fun discovering xylophones and glockenspiels hidden within the trees. I think this would really appeal to kids too!

We also enjoyed breakfast in The Glasshouse restaurant. This is the main restaurant at the hotel, and always operates a buffet service. We feasted on tasty eggs royale and eggs Florentine, fresh pastries and juices, while enjoying the buzzy ambience of the room.

Breakfast at The Grove
We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at The Grove

How to get to Croxley, Rickmansworth and Chorleywood

This trip was split between these three locations. If you’re travelling by public transport, all of these stations are reachable by Metropolitan Line trains from Baker Street. For a speedier route, catch the Chiltern Railways service from Marylebone to Rickmansworth or Chorleywood. If you want to cover everything on my Hertfordshire itinerary you may need to spend money on a few taxis, but there’s plenty within walking distance of the stations.

We chose to drive as it gave us the freedom to see and do a lot in 24 hours. This would be my preference if you do have a car as you’ll be able to reach spots like North Hill Farm and Rickmansworth Aquadrome more easily. You can also get off the beaten track and enjoy some pretty road trip views!

Chess Valley Walk
Views on the Chess Valley Walk in the summer

I really enjoyed my Hertfordshire break. The fresh air and country views were great for my wellbeing, and I enjoyed the variety of food experiences on the doorstep. Lots of these businesses have had a challenging few years, so it was great to support them again!

If you’re looking for more recommendations of places to visit nearby, check out my guides to places to go glamping near London, spending 24 hours in Amersham and all about my previous stay at The Grove.

For more inspiration, you could also check out these posts on the Great British Bucket List about visiting Rickmansworth Aquadrome and this guide to the Chess Valley Walk (one of my fave walks in this part of England)!

A big thanks to Visit Herts for inviting me to be part of their Welcome Back to Hertfordshire campaign. For the ultimate inspiration, take a look at the Visit Herts website and start planning your very own staycation in Hertfordshire.

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