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Hemel Hempstead

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Hemel Hempstead is a town in Hertfordshire with a population of around 80,000.

Understand

Developed after World War II as a new town, the town has existed as a settlement since the 8th century and has a picturesque old town and a fine Norman church. The new town centre is a planned shopping area with an indoor Mall called Marlowes Centre, an outdoor market and a Debenhams department store. There is extensive, though not free, town centre parking. The town has the only real snow indoor ski centre in the south east.

"Magic Roundabout"

Officially named 1 The Plough and sometimes known as "Moor End Roundabout", a road roundabout made up of 6 small roundabouts arranged in a circle around a single large roundabout. Drivers either love or hate navigating it - in 2005 it was voted 2nd worst roundabout in the UK (the "worst" being it's sister roundabout in Swindon); yet by 2011 it was voted the best (in a different poll). Probably not something learner drivers look forward to at rush-hour!

Get in

By road

The town is served by the M1 and M25 motorways and the A41 and A414 trunk roads.

By train

It is 35 minutes away from London (Euston Station). Trains go about every 20 minutes to and from Hemel on Monday to Friday, and about every 30 minutes on weekends. Check the National Rail website or the Silverlink website before you go, as sometimes (especially on weekends) there is engineering work and trains are replaced by buses. Travelling is cheaper on weekdays after 09:30. Cheapest ticket for a single person is a Day Travelcard, which is around £14.- and gets you into London and is valid for all Underground lines all day.

By bus

There are coaches to and from London and other towns as well as various airports. National Express coaches go direct to Luton, Heathrow and Stansted airports. To go to/from Gatwick airport, best go by train; you will have to change once, in Watford. For London City airport, you will have to go to London by train, then take the Underground.

By air

The town is 11 miles from Luton Airport and 25 miles from Heathrow Airport.

By narrowboat

The Grand Union Canal passes close to the west of the town, and through the southern suburb of Apsley.

By bicycle

The town is on National Cycle Route 57 that runs from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire to Farmington, Gloucestershire near Northleach.

Get around

There are local buses from the station to town centre and to the Jarman Park leisure complex; apart from that, everything in town is in walking distance.

It is worth noting all Hertfordshire buses offer an 'Explorer' ticket which permits a maximum of 2 adults, 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult with 3 children to unlimited travel for £7. It is often worth doing as it can save money even if you are on your own.

See

The Old Town has quite a few period buildings, including, pubs, shops and the Old Town Hall, giving it the feel of a nineteenth century market town.

  • 1 St Mary's. The Norman church was built from around 1140 and has an unusual 200 ft (61m) tall spire, added in the 12th century, and one of England's tallest.
  • The Grand Union canal. was the main trunk route from London to the Midlands
  • 2 Boxmoor meadows, London Rd, Hemel Hempstead HP1 2RE, ☏ +44 1442 253300. a nature preserve to the south of the town.
  • Nickey Line (7 mile footpath & cycleway). Railway fans can see the occasional small landmark that hints at where The Nicky Line used to run, a dismantled railway that once connected Hemel LNWR main line to Harpenden Midland Railway.
  • Frogmore Paper Mill (Paper Mill Museum), Fourdrinier Way, Apsley HP3 9RY, ☏ +44 1442 234600, ✉ postbox@thepapertrail.org.uk. Every Th & 1st Su of each month 11:00-16:00. Celebrates the 200 years when the town was a centre for paper manufacture.
  • 4 Magic Roundabout. Hemel is famous (or perhaps notorious) for its "Magic Roundabout", an interchange where traffic from six routes meet in a series of mini roundabouts connected by a gyratory system. This can be best viewed from a window table at the café in Debenhams department store.

Do

Wander north up the Grand Union Canal, pass a few locks, and after about 15 minutes you will come to a pub called "The Three Horseshoes". It dates back to the 16th century, and in summer you can enjoy your beer sitting outside by the canal.

Go south for a couple of locks and you come to Apsley Lock marina. This has a canal side pub called "The Papermill" as well as waterfront restaurants and cafés.

  • 1 The Snow Centre (Indoor Snow/Ski Slope), St Albans Hill, Hemel Hempstead HP3 9NH (Close to Jarman Park), ☏ +44 344 770 7227, ✉ information@thesnowcentre.com. Skiing, ski lessons, bar & restaurant
  • 2 Quasar (Futuristic Laser Game), 179 Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1BB, ☏ +44 1442 213200. Term time: M-Th 16:00-21:00. F16:00-22:30. Sa 10:00-22:30. Su 10:00-21:00; School & Bank Holidays: daily 10:00-21:00. £6.50/person/game.
  • 3 CineWorld, Jarman Square, Jarman Park, Hemel Hempstead HP2 4JW, ☏ +44 871 200 2000 (premium).
  • 4 Planet Ice (Ice Rink), Jarman Square, Jarmans Park, Hemel Hempstead HP2 4JS, ☏ +44 8458 725 799 (premium), ✉ hemel@planet-ice.co.uk.
  • 5 Sportspace (Leisure Centre), Park Rd, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1JS, ☏ +44 1442 507100 (head office). 25m swimming pool, hard courts, diving pit, fitness studio, outdoor pool, gym, café, squash court, badminton courts, free parking
  • 6 XC (Extreme Sport Centre), Jarman Park, Hemel Hempstead HP2 4JS (Use postcode HP2 4JW in SatNavs), ☏ +44 1442 507100, ✉ xcenquiries@sportspace.co.uk. Daily 10:00-22:00. Skate/BMX park, climbing wall, indoor caving, high rope obstacle course

Buy

  • 1 Town Market, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1BH. Th-Sa 08:00-16:00.
  • 2 The Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 4TU. Pedestrianised Shopping Precint, It has a Debenham's department store, M&S, Primark, Wilkinsons, & TK Maxx.
  • 3 Riverside, Riverside, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1BT. Shopping Centre
  • 4 Adsa, Hillfield Rd, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 4AA, ☏ +44 1442 212802. M-Sa 07:00-23:00. Su 10:00-16:00. Supermarket
  • 5 Tesco, Jarman Way, Hemel Hempstead HP2 4JS, ☏ +44 345 677 9349. M-F 06:00-00:00. Sa 06:00-22:00. Su 10:00-16:00. Supermarket ; Petrol & pharmacy (different hours). ATMs, Wi-Fi

Eat

  • 1 K2 Balti House, 5 Two Waters Rd, Hemel Hempstead HP3 9BZ, ☏ +44 1442 239993, ✉ contact@k2baltihouse.co.uk. Daily 12:00-14:30 (last orders 14:00) & 17:30-23:30 (last orders 23:00). Indian Restaurant & Take-away, one of the finest in the area
  • 2 The Dragon Garden, 119-121 Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1BB, ☏ +44 1442 233814. Chinese Cantonese Restaurant
  • 3 The Banana Leaf, 127-129 Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1BB, ☏ +44 1442 244466. M-Th 12:00-15.00 & 18:00-22:00. F-Sa 12:00-15:00 & 18:00-23:00. Su 12:30-22:00. Thai Restaurant
  • 4 Paprikaa Spice Lounge, 16-18 Lawn Lane, Hemel Hempstead HP3 9HL, ☏ +44 1442 257786. M W-Su 17:30-23:00. Indian & Bangladeshi Restaurant & Take-away
  • 5 The Three Horseshoes, Winkwell, Hemel Hempstead HP1 2RZ, ☏ +44 1442 862 585. Mon-Sat, 12:00 to 11:00; Sun, 12:00 to 10:30 ;. Moderately sized pub with restaurant, a good mix of menu items. Also have a specialist menu for gluten-free. The building dates back to the 16th century, and in summer there are outside seating, by the canal-side, letting the traveller see the boats that pass.

Drink

One pub to mention apart from the above "The Three Horseshoes" is the "Full House" in the town centre (on the corner of the Marlowes and Combe Street). Belonging to the Weatherspoon chain of pubs, it is situated in the building of the old cinema, and the decor is something to see!

Another canal side pub of note is "The Fisheries" in Boxmoor.

  • 1 The Steam Coach, 86 St Johns Rd, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1NP, ☏ +44 1442 244480. Pub: M-Th 12p:00-23:00. F Sa 12:00-00:00. Su 12:00-23:00; Food: M-Th 12:00-15:00 & 18:00-21:00. F-Sa 12:00-21:00. Su 12:00-19:00. Pub & Food ; Celebrates a steam powered coach which a local inventor built and drove to London.
  • 2 The Three Blackbirds, 194 St Johns Rd, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1NR, ☏ +44 1442 253523, ✉ 7052@greeneking.co.uk. M-Th 12:00-23:00. F-Sa 12:00-00:00. Su 12:00-23:00. Pub & Food
  • 3 The Old Bell, 51 High St, Hemel Hempstead HP1 3AF, ☏ +44 1442 252867. Pub: M-Th 11:00-23:00. F-Sa 12:00-00:30. Su 12:00-23:00; Food: Daily 12:00-22:00 last orders 21:45. Pub & Food; Parts built in 1615 but is on the site of even older inns. It contains some unusual French wallpaper dating back to 1821, which has been cleaned by the Victoria & Albert Museum.
  • 4 The White Lion, 44 London Rd, Apsley End, Hemel Hempstead HP3 9SB, ☏ +44 1442 211808, ✉ thewhitelionApsley@hotmail.com. M-Th 15:00-23:00. F Sa 12:00-00:00. Su 12:00-23:00. Pub & Food ; Free Wi-Fi. Free parking nearby

Sleep

There are many guest houses, a few B&Bs (usually £25 upwards), and a few hotels. Here's a list of the hotels closest to town centre:

  • 1 Travelodge, Wolsey Rd, Hemel Hempstead HP2 4TU, ☏ +44 8719 846036 (premium). Check-in: 15:00 (12:00 costs £10), check-out: 12:00 (14:00 costs £10). Chargeable on-site parking
  • 2 Aubrey Park Hotel, Hemel Hempstead Rd, RedbournSt Albans AL3 7AF, ☏ +44 1582 792105, ✉ reception@aubreypark.co.uk. Helipad. Free on-site parking
  • 3 Express by Holiday Inn, Stationers Place, Apsley, Hemel Hempstead HP3 9RH, ☏ +44 870-4585485 (premium), ✉ info@expresshemel.co.uk. Check-in: from 14:00, check-out: by 12:00. from £53.
  • 4 Premier Inn (Hemel Hempstead Central), Moor End Rd, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1BT, ☏ +44 871 527 8514 (premium). Free Wi-Fi. Restaurant from £39.

Connect

  • 1 Post Office, 181-183 The Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1BD. M-Sa 09:00-17:30. Su 10:30-14:30.

Go next

  • Whipsnade Wild Animal Park is only 10 miles from here, near Dunstable.
  • Warner Brothers Studio tour in Leavesden is 6 miles away, north Watford.
  • St Albans
  • High Wycombe
  • Aylesbury



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