Watford might only be an eight miles squared town, however, the area has more to offer than you think! Visit Watford has asked Watford residents and visitors to reveal their favourite places/spots around the area. We have collected your answers and now present you a top five of these hidden gems – you’ll be surprised!
5. Woodland Hawking
Woodland Hawking offers Bird of Prey experiences all-year-round and it is in Watford. From an introduction to advanced hands-on get up close and personal with some of nature’s most magnificent creatures.
4. Cassiobury Farm and Fishery
A watercress farm was first recorded on the same site in the 1820’s. The shallow beds and clear, chalk-fed water provided perfect growing conditions for the cress. The farm continued up until the 1980’s when it was closed, and the site became derelict and the old bed’s overgrown.
Following a five-year restoration project, the historic watercress beds and been brought back to their former glory, and a rare breeds farm and kitchen garden added to make Cassiobury Farm an idyllic new venue in Watford.
3. Whippendell Woods
Whippendell Woods is an ancient woodland on the edges of Watford, covering an area of 165.3 acres. It is owned and managed by Watford Borough Council. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its variety of woodland habitats and has held this status since 1954. The site is being used for a wide variety of outdoor activities including horse riding and walking.
2. Cheslyn House and Gardens
Often described as Watford’s best-kept secret, Cheslyn House and Gardens is another of Watford’s Green Flag Award winners. Its 3.5 acres of space is imaginatively laid out to invite exploration, providing a myriad of interesting areas including a pond, fernery, large herbaceous borders and an aviary.
Designed by renowned architect Henry Colbeck and his wife, Daisy, the original gardens have a collection of unusual and exotic plants which they collected whilst travelling the world. Among the special delights you can still see today are the whimsical sweetgum tree, the handsome Indian bean tree and the distinctive tulip tree. Beyond the house, you can explore the dense woodland garden, which is full of colour in spring when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom. The new features, such as the pond, bird aviary, a rock garden and large herbaceous borders, have encouraged new wildlife to visit the gardens, including dragonflies, damselflies, frogs, newts, fish and water insects.
1. The Grand Union Canal
The Grand Union Canal passes along the western side of Cassiobury Park separating it from West Herts golf course and Whippendell Woods.
The Canal, which links Birmingham to the River Thames in London, is a peaceful and shady location adjacent to the sometimes busy park, and is described in The Shell Book of Inland Waterways as “one of the loveliest sections of a canal so near a town anywhere in Britain”.
There are four locks rising northwards along the meandering section of canal in the park. The sweeping nature of the canal is due to demands placed on the builders of the canal by landowners at the time of construction. The canal continues to meander past the Grove where there is a very ornate bridge linking the 5-star hotel to the Hempstead Road.
Iron Bridge Lock (# 77), so called because it is adjacent to bridge #167, can easily be accessed from the main park area by crossing the rustic bridge. In the summer narrow boats pass along this stretch of canal quite frequently.