Size:

67.36 ha (166.45 acres)

Grid reference:

TQ130940

Map reference:

Explorer 173

OS Landranger 176

Merry Hill is a superb 76-hectare wooded habitat on the outskirts of London, close to the historic town of Watford. It contains a delightful mix of old trees, newly planted woodland and orchard, a stream and vast open meadows that stretch across the scenic and peaceful Hertfordshire countryside.

Look out for the cairn (a mound of stones built as a memorial or landmark) in the centre of the grassland area which is made out of local puddingstone and was erected to commemorate the new millennium.

Features

  • Parking nearby
  • Public access
  • Grassland
  • Broadleaved woodland

How to get to Merry Hill

Merry Hill is located between Harrow and Watford along the north-western fringes of Greater London, just 24km (15 miles) from the centre.

Bushey is about 3.2km (2 miles) south-east of Watford. From Watford, take the A411 towards Beechen Grove. At the roundabout, take the second exit onto the A411

Waterfields Way and continue to follow the A411 for approximately 2.4km (1.5 miles).
Turn right onto Kemp Place, just off Bushey High Street, and into a free public car park. From here it is a 536-metre (586-yard) walk to the wood, along both surfaced and unsurfaced paths.

Walk east, out of Kemp Place, and turn left onto the High Street. Continue for about 182 metres (200 yards) then turn left onto Merry Hill Road, following this until you reach the wood.

The nearest train station is Bushey, which is around 4.8km (3 miles) from the wood.

Visit National Rail for more information.

The nearest bus stop is on Bushey High Street at the end of Merry Hill Road.

Visit Traveline for more information.

Facilities and access

Access to the wood is available directly from the surrounding urban roads via two entrances on the north-eastern boundary off Merry Hill Road and on the south-western boundary off Oxhey Lane.

Access can also be gained via a public footpath on the south-western boundary from Carpenters Park and from several points on the north-western boundary via Attenborough Fields.

A hard-surfaced path, the Greenway, connects the two northern entrances and is suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.

There are a series of other grassy paths throughout the gently undulating site, and some of these sections are seasonally muddy and become slippery when wet.

Wide kissing gates suitable for buggies are positioned at entrances and field boundaries, though small sections of steps and a couple of footbridges are also dotted around the site.

A waymarked walk leads through the wood, with benches at regular intervals, mostly placed to offer spectacular views across the countryside.

There is a free public car park on Kemp Place just off Bushey High Street, which is around 0.5km (0.3 miles) from the wood.

There are public toilets with baby changing and disabled facilities at Bushey Museum on Rudolph Road, just off Bushey High Street around 1.6km (1 mile) from the entrance to the wood. The toilets are open between 11am and 4pm Thursday to Sunday. There are also toilets available to paying customers in businesses in Bushey and surrounding towns.

Wildlife and habitats

Animals

Merry Hill is home to a wide variety of woodland species, including a colony of brown long-eared bats and a significant number of Britain’s largest breed of woodpecker, the green woodpecker.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi

The new native woodland at Merry Hill was planted by the local community with trees such as oak and hornbeam in groups. The blocks of woodland are separated by mown rides and there is a large grassland area in the centre of the site.

Look out for:

Habitats

As well as the woodland there are large areas of grassland at Merry Hill, which can broadly be put into three categories: natural grazed habitat, rough open grassland and unimproved grassland. These areas provide important habitats for small mammals and invertebrates, adding a value to the surrounding landscape.

Explore:

History of Merry Hill

The area currently known as Merry Hill was formerly arable farmland which probably grew hay for London’s extensive horse-drawn traffic in the 19th century.

We acquired the site in 1996 and over a third was planted with a range of native broadleaved trees.

Much of the planting was done by local school children and residents as part of our Woods on Your Doorstep project, resulting in an area of new woodland which the community named Little Hartsbourne Wood.

We acquired another part of the site in 1998 on a 125-year lease which has been designated as an orchard. Planting began in 2000 and 180 trees have been planted across a variety of fruit species.

Things to do in Merry Hill

Merry Hill - Management plan

Download

Merry Hill Management Plan

PDF  (138 KB)