Ellenbrook Fields is really well hidden, beside Notcutts Garden Centre in St Albans. I always wrote it off as either part of the garden centre or land belonging to the university. It turns out it's neither! It's the site of the old runway and taxi path for the now closed De Haviland airport, and a really easy walk for humans and hounds.
Park in the car park for Notcutts, or try sneaking into the car park for The Three Horseshoes pub across the road. The entrance is to the right hand side of Notcutts. Walk across their frontage to find it. At the time of writing, Notcutts had disguised the entrance to the fields with a decorative line of daffodils, but just behind them is a metal gate, and a sign saying "Hatfield Business Park". Follow that lane down for a short distance and on your right, you will see an opening into the fields. A vast expanse of fields should open up before you as you step into them.
The area is totally flat grassland, so quite suitable for a buggy or wheelchair push, although there are some raised mounds beside the paths. I was told that these were originally put in place as bumpers if a plane overshot the runway. A dog could probably scale them quite happily, and I bet children would have a great time playing on and around them. The site neighbours an aggregates processing plant, and there are ponds of what they describe as slurry; however they are fenced off and signposted. If you follow the park around, there are small wooded areas to explore, and some softer ground to be careful on if you're on wheels. There are some information boards up at key points, such as the position of the old runway, and to show how big an aeroplane was.
If you're a movie or TV buff who likes a bit of Spielberg, this was the field in which battle scenes from Saving Private Ryan and Band Of Brothers were filmed, although they cleared up well after themselves. There are some fabled polystyrene trees hiding, but I'd imagine they're long decomposed, or thieved by local students! The locals like to tell tales of how they would come across people dressed as German soldiers during filming while they walked their dogs. These days, the only dangerous creature you might encounter are the cattle which occasionally graze in a fenced off area near the housing development at the back of the park, or a bird of prey hovering in the air.
In terms of facilties, it's lacking, but it is literally a field and nothing more. It's a great place for your dog to run about like mad, and owners to explore. There are no pooh bins, no toilets, and nowhere to get/eat food. Dogs aren't allowed into Notcutts itself, but you might be able to get a drink and snack in the Three Horseshoes across the road. Alternatively, head up to The Galleria shopping centre and get yourself a sneaky burger from one of the many drive through restaurants. I'll be the one with the chocolate milkshake and flagging beagle!
- Free Parking
- Off Lead Areas
- On Lead Areas
- Animals On Route
Next door to Notcutts Garden Centre, AL4 0HN605 Hatfield Rd, St Albans AL4, UK
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