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Slowcation Travel Guide - Hertfordshire

Updated: Mar 19

Hertfordshire is a county in the south of England, and is the ideal place for the slow traveller. It has a wealth of history to explore, a central location within easy reach of Cambridge, Suffolk and London. It’s surrounded by swathes of rolling countryside, punctuated by small villages of thatched cottages and bustling vibrant towns, making it perfect for exploring, walking, countryside activities and of course - slowcations!

What is a Slowcation?

A slowcation is a neologism combing the words slow and vacation. The term is gaining traction in the travel industry and is used to describe holidays or trips where the pace of life is slower and there is no set agenda. There's no rushing around and no cramming in activities and day trips, just being present in a place that feels like home and experiencing the local area. It's all about taking each day as it comes, taking the time to breathe, listen, feel and see what is around you.

Slowcation can also be used when talking about the carbon impact of travel and is reflective of slow travel to reduce the carbon impact of a holiday or break. For example holidaying in your country of residence and using public transport such as trains, buses, coaches and ferries to travel at a slower pace, rejecting the carbon impact of flying. If you're based in the UK then Hertfordshire could be the perfect location for your first slowcation.

What does Hertfordshire have to offer the slow traveller?

Hertfordshire has historic estates such as Knebworth House where The Crown was filmed, bustling market towns such as Hitchin and Ware full of wonderful independents , the cathedral of St Albans, The Making of Harry Potter, beautiful countryside and a buzzing cafe/restaurant and pub scene ... the county is awash with smaller, weirder and wilder wonders that are waiting to be uncovered..

Switch off in the countryside in our retreats overlooking their own Wildflower Meadow
Bethnal&Bec Luxury Stays Wildflower Meadow

Hertfordshire is an English county, founded in the Norse–Saxon wars of the 9th century, and developed through commerce serving London. It is a land-locked county that was several times the seat of Parliament. From origins in brewing and papermaking, through aircraft manufacture, the county has developed a wider range of industry in which pharmaceuticals, financial services and film-making are prominent.

Hertfordshire is one of the historic counties of England first recorded in the early 10th century. Its development has been tied with that of London, which lies on its southern border. Hertfordshire grew wealthy on the proceeds of trade because no less than three of the old Roman roads serving the capital run through it, as do the Grand Union Canal and other watercourses.

Hertfordshire makes the perfect place for a slow holiday, with good public transport links to the rest of the country, a wide range of places to explore at your own pace, or just relax and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings.

Our Guide to Having Fun in Hertfordshire


Dog friendly places in Hertfordshire

We know it can be hard to leave your four-legged friend at home and not bring them out to lunch with you after a long country walk. Hers's our list of dog-friendly pubs, cafes and walks in Hertfordshire - it’s the leashed we could do!

Bethnal&Bec Luxury Stays 3 beautiful, unique and eco retreats situated in the quaint village of Cottered, Hertfordshire. Truly Dog Friendly (Bethnal retreat; Bec retreat), surrounded by wonderful walks, pubs, market towns and countryside

Walkable from Bethnal&Bec, and situated in a wonderful village and on the doorstep of Church Farm, this locals pub has all the charm and style expected from a village pub.... roaring open fires, board games, pub grub with a splendid Sunday roast to boot! Very dog friendly

Toby and Hope are the father-daughter duo who own and run The Cheese Plate. Working together to bring weird and wonderful cheeses and accompaniments to cheese lovers in Buntingford and nationwide to pubs and restaurants. They have 2 wonderful window seats that you can enjoy a delicious cheesy snack or lunch in, with some wonderful wines recommended by Toby - and Fido can join you too!

The Sword Inn Hand is a 14th Century free house nestled in the beautiful rural Hertfordshire village of Westmill, a mile south of the market town of Buntingford. With bar, dining room, mature landscaped gardens it is the perfect countryside retreat for drinking, dining and relaxing. Seasonal produce is delivered daily by local suppliers. They pride themselves on serving delicious fine food and traditional ales.

An independent Employee Owned Trust situated in Letchworth, the world’s first Garden City – part of the community for nearly 50 years! They bring customers the very best in new and second hand books, music, cards and gifts, games and café food, plus our book signing events, games nights, Saturday events and book clubs (whew!). Their bookshop has a large second-hand department on the upper floor and at the back of the ground floor, quirky cards and gifts, an eclectic role playing games collection, new and classic board games, a varied ‘bargains’ area full of half price new books, as well as new titles offerings. The record store is an excellent shop selling new and second-hand records, CDs and DVDs, and the café is the ideal place to relax with a book, or try one of our famous home made sweet or savoury scones. And.... the WHOLE place is dog friendly! (We find Letchworth a very dog friendly town with many shops displayed Dogs Welcome signs)

Based on The Green in Therfield, a beautiful quintessentially English village just a few miles from Royston. Surrounded by stunning landscapes, stunning walks around Therfield Heath to enjoying a drink or two on Therfield village green. Food and drink at The Fox and Duck is carefully sourced and expertly prepared. They work with award-winning suppliers to bring exciting seasonal dishes always served with a smile!

Things to do in East Hertfordshire

Head east to Hertfordshire’s largest district for a memorable visit, less than an hour’s journey from central London and Cambridge and within half an hour of Stansted Airport.

Boasting five delightful historic towns, with bustling markets, surrounded by stunning countryside and some incredible attractions, there’s something to please all visitors to East Herts.

Buntingford is a wonderful town steeped in history
The Buntingford Coffee shop

An abundance of wildlife is waiting to be explored along the many miles of meandering rivers, cycling and walking routes in the area, with no shortage of pubs, restaurants and accommodation en route offering high quality food and facilities to appeal to every taste and budget.

There’s also a wonderful range of places to stay. East Hertfordshire has many attractive country house hotels which are steeped in history such as Down Hall Hotel & Spa located in Hatfield Heath on the border with Essex near Bishop’s Stortford; and Hanbury Manor Marriot Hotel and Country Club set in 200 sprawling acres near Ware. For those looking for the perfect self-catering 'home-from-home', Bethnal&Bec Luxury Stays near Buntingford, nestled in the beautiful rolling Hertfordshire countryside less than 40 miles from Central London, provides guests with all the luxuries of home.

Choose from a host of local attractions, including:

  • A visit to Celtic Harmony Camp will give you first-hand experience of how the people of the Iron Age lived over 2000 years ago

  • Hertford Theatre has an exciting all-year programme of shows, cinema screenings, events and activities

  • A true jewel in Hertfordshire’s crown is The Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green with its incredible exhibition space, studio and sculpture garden

  • Lee Valley Regional Park offers a range walking and cycling routes for every level of fitness as well as boat hire in the warmer months.

  • Rye Meads Nature Reserve beside the River Lee is a firm favourite with walkers, birdwatchers and photographers thanks to its many trails and hides.

  • For a wild day out and an exotic experience, the impressive Paradise Wildlife Park offers families and animals lovers a sensation day out

  • There are a number of award winning parks in the district, for you to enjoy with a day out with a picnic in the fresh air

  • The Rhodes Art Complex is Bishop’s Stortford’s premier entertainment venue offering theatre, cinema and a museum

  • Scott's Grotto in Ware was built in the 18th century and has a fascinating series of interconnected tunnels, lined with shells, flints and pieces of coloured glass, as well as a Summerhouse above the tunnels.

blown over around 1860, Cromer Windmill was re-built and used until the 1920’s when milling by wind became uneconomic and the mill fell into disrepair. Repaired and open between June - September
Cromer Windmill Hertfordshire’s sole surviving windmill and a grade II* listed building dates from 1681

Many popular events take place in the district throughout the year including the Hertfordshire Festival of Music in June and Standon Calling in July.

Popular East Hertfordshire towns

There are many! But here are our favourites:

East Herts has so much to offer for a day-trip, weekend break or longer, so come along for a visit at any time of the year, you won’t regret it!

See you soon?

Outdoor jacuzzi bath in self-catering accommodation Bethnal&Bec
A guest enjoying the outdoor jacuzzi bath at Bethnal&Bec, Hertfordshire

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