Know before you go
Parking informationThere is unofficial parking next to College Arms pub on The Roundings. Disabled parking by reserve entrance.
Hornbeam Trail and White Admiral Trail.
Main entrance is flat and solid when dry and there is disabled parking by the main entrance
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitApril to July, September to November
About the reserve
Balls Wood is a large, varied woodland boasting wide sunny rides. The north of the reserve is dominated by hornbeams, both ancient coppiced specimens and a few very old pollarded ones. The northern section is where a number of the ancient woodland species can be found, especially the unusual herb-paris, common spotted orchid and some old Wild Service trees. In the southern end of the wood, previous owners had cleared some of the hornbeams and replaced them with a mixture of oak, ash and conifers, which have since been thinned Some of the most striking features of the wood are the open and sunny rides, which abound with butterflies, birds and wildflowers. When the wood was first bought by the Trust, only 20% of these rides were 20 metres wide, which meant that the ground flora and dependent fauna suffered greatly. Extensive work to widen the rides has meant that now 80% of the rides are full of sunlight and wildlife has thrived as a result. One unusual feature of the wood is the large number of ponds – there are over 20 throughout the wood which vary from shallow scrapes to deeper pools. These ponds may have been created by bomb craters during the Second World War. Where we have removed excessive silt from the ponds, aquatic animals such as frogs, toads and newts have benefited. The wood has two waymarked walks, the Hornbeam Trail and the White Admiral Trail, designed to guide you through the best parts of the wood.
Spring: Bluebells, great spotted woodpecker, herb-paris, sparrowhawk, wood anemone.
Summer: Emperor dragonfly, gatekeeper, large red damselfly, speckled wood, white admiral.
Autumn: Beech, holly, migrant hawker, Wild Service tree.
Winter: Fieldfare, goldcrest, and blue, coal, great and long-tailed tit.
Site entrance: The site entrance is signposted on Elbow Lane.
Access by road: From Hertford Heath village follow London Road (B1197), until you reach The College Arms pub. Turn right into The Roundings. Hertford Heath is signposted in 0,1 miles – use the footpath to walk to the Balls Wood Entrance (0.3 miles).
Access by public transport
Bus: 341, 641 – College Arms pub, (0.5 miles).
Rail: Hertford East (2.3 miles), Hertford North (3 miles)