Pardon Wood Nature Reserve (SSSI)



Supporting the maintenance and conservation of Parndon Wood Nature Reserve

Please help to support Parndon Wood Nature Reserve by donating £5.00. Your donation will go towards; Setting up conservation days, supporting essential works and maintaining Parndon Wood nature reserve and its conservation centre to a high standard.


 About Parndon Wood Nature Reserve

Parndon Wood Nature Reserve, run by ECCO, is officially one of the finest parks in the country, after receiving a sought after Green Flag award, retained in 2018 for the tenth consecutive year. Green Flag Awards recognise and reward the best parks in the country. The Reserve is the first open space in Harlow to be put forward and accepted for this status.

Set on the southern outskirts of Harlow, Parndon Wood has been recorded as a woodland for at least 900 years and therefore can be termed as “ancient woodland”. The site was turned into a Local Nature Reserve in 1974 and the reserve was also designated a Special Site for Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its flora and value as an educational resource. The wood is composed of a canopy of oak tree standards with hornbeam trees growing beneath. These have traditionally been coppiced (cut down to the base and allowed to grow up again) every 10-15 years to make use of the timber. This practice is still carried out today, though more to keep a diversity of habitats within the woodland and increase the number of species to be found.

Parndon Wood has visits from schools, which use the woods to support national curriculum studies and for special events. These are held throughout the year, for example to demonstrate woodland crafts, painting and woodcarving weekends. We also offer discussion meetings about local wildlife issues and volunteer conservation work parties.

Autumn/ Winter Opening times:

Monday: Closed

Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday: 11am – 4pm

Thursday: 2pm – 7pm

Friday: 11am – 4pm

Saturday: 11am – 6pm

Sunday: 11am – 4pm

( Bank Holidays 11am – 4pm )

Tea Room

Here at Parndon Wood Nature reserve we have a lovely tea room that sells sit in or take away hot drinks and snacks. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and take a seat in our scenic outdoor seating area.

Firewood for sale

Parndon Wood Nature Reserve produces many tonnes of premium quality hornbeam firewood. This firewood comes from our sustainably managed and environmentally friendly coppice scheme. It is processed by hand by our wonderful HCV and Green team volunteers and then sold on to help fund the continual maintenance of our SSSI site.

If you would like to purchase fire wood please contact or call 01279 430005. Prices range from £5.00 a bag to £150 a tonne. (Subject to availability).

Conservation Centre

Our  conservation centre has a wonderful class room full of woodland specimens, taxidermy and information posters. It is a fantastic way to learn about the local wildlife and the creatures you may find at Parndon Woods. It is wheel chair accessible and we also have full toilet facilities for public use.


We are always looking for helpers at Parndon wood. We need people to help maintain the reserve, serve the public in the cafe, organise events and carry out surveys on the species we have here. If you are interested please contact us now on 01279 430005 or email for more information.

School visits

Parndon Wood offers a fantastic opportunity for schools to experience the wonders of the great outdoors in a safe environment. With access to our indoor classroom (which can accommodate up to 30 pupils), extensive woodland areas and a number of bird hides, there is a fantastic opportunity to learn about local wildlife here at the reserve.

Our range of activities includes;

  • Pond dipping
  • Bug hunting
  • Nature walks
  • Foot print hunt
  • Wildlife watching
  • Den building
  • Natural arts and crafts
  • Making bird feeders
  • Brass rubbing
  • Bark rubbing
  • Nature quizzes

Prices start from £4 per head (students) please contact or call 01279 430005 to arrange a visit or ask for more information.

Birthday Parties 

We offer a range of birthday packages here at the reserve. You can simply hire our conservation room and put on your own party theme or we can give you access to the reserve and you can enjoy a host of out-door activities.

These include;

  • Pond dipping (season dependant)
  • Bug hunting
  • Den building
  • Foot print hunt
  • Treasure hunt
  • Natural arts and crafts

Come rain or shine, you’ll have everything you need for your activities, but don’t forget your appropriate clothing! Equipment will be provided for activities as part of the birthday packages. Prices start at £65, for more information or to book, call us on 01279 430005 or email

Please note that all rubbish created and decorations brought, must be taken with you at the end of the party as we do not have the facilities to dispose of large amounts of waste. Thank you.

Things to see and do

Take a walk by yourself or with the family and experience our superb ancient woodland. We have several nature trails here that you can explore at your leisure.

During the spring large swaths of the woodland are covered in bluebells and foxgloves. Fallow and Muntjac deer are often being spotted and we have hides that look onto their commonly used trails. Much birdlife calls our woods home. Species recently sighted/heard include; Buzzards, Jays, Long-tail tits, treecreepers, bull finches, greenwood peckers, nuthatches, greater spotted wood peckers, blue tits, black birds, wrens and kestrels. Our log piles and leaf litter hold rare species of beetle which are scarce in Essex and our water ways and ponds hold much rare amphibian life.

Our Conservation room holds a number of taxidermy species and a large collection of bones for the public to learn about. There is also a huge number of information posters and books to read.

Hire some binoculars (£2 an hour) and spend a while sitting quietly in one of our bird hides trying to spot our large range of species. (available all year).

Hire a bug hunting kit (£2) and get to grips with our woodlands mini beasts. (available all year).

Make a fat ball (£1) to hang in your garden and help feed our local song birds. (available all year).

Wildlife drawing and brass rubbing (£1). we have a huge range of animal templates to colour in, or, create your own master piece. we also have brass rubbing in one of our hides, where you can discover the creatures hidden in the brass.

No matter what you will find enjoyment here!


If you’re interested in photography, there are so may inspiring subjects in the reserve. our stunning landscape and hosts of flora and fauna will get you that perfect wildlife shot. You can send your photographs to of you would like an accredited photo to be shared on our social media or in the conservation centre. 

Upcoming Events;

Walking for Health; Health walks at Parndon Wood on Sundays from 11:30am to 12:30pm. The health walks are free and for anyone to enjoy, but please note they will be at a slow pace to accommodate for walkers that are recovering from injury or illness. Contact 01279 430005 if further info required.

Bushcraft Club; Starting on Saturday the 6th of April 2019, monthly Bushcraft Club. Learn survival skills such as fire lighting, navigation, campfire cooking, shelter building, seasonal foraging, tracking, use of tools and tree / plant identification with an experienced bushcraft instructor. These workshops are hands on and interactive and will run ‘whatever the weather’ (unless it is unsafe). Bring a drink and a snack, though there will be hot drinks and campfire cooking on most of the days. Bushcraft workshops are for adults and children aged 10 and over (under 14’s must be accompanied by an adult). Workshops start at 9:30am until 1pm. For any further information contact , to reserve a place contact Parndon Wood Nature Reserve on 01279 430005.

Mini Beast Hunt; Search the reserve for the beasts that roam in the leaf litter. Hire a bug hunting kit and guide from the conservation centre and use them to help you capture and identify the mini beasts you find around the reserve! There will also be bug themed arts and crafts in the conservation class room. £2 per bug hunting kit. To book please contact To pay, please bring cash on the day. 
Once you have captured a bug please release it back to where you found it and put any logs or leaf litter back to their original positions. This event will be re-scheduled for later this year.

Children Bird Watching Day; Bring the kids to learn about birds that live in the woodland. You will get a sticker book to fill in, there will be an educational song birds tape on in the conservation classroom and lots of bird themed arts and crafts to do. We also have a select number of children’s binoculars, but these are very limited in number! £2 per child (this includes a sticker book and access the arts and crafts). No Need to book! This event will be scheduled again for later this year.

Nordic Walking; Parndon wood has welcomed the Nordic walkers from Naturally attuned in 2018 please visit for dates and more information.

Animal Tracking day; Hunt through the reserve to see what footprints, animal signs and nests you can discover. You will be given a guide by our warden and the conservation room will be full of information on the tracks and signs you might find in this country and all over the world. Hire a full tracking kit (spotter sheet, binoculars, mini magnifying glass) for only £3 and spend the day looking for evidence of our woodland creatures! No need to book. This event will take place again in the next year. 

Glorious Garden Birds; Come and explore the amazing world of garden birds. Take a field guide and some binoculars to one of our hides and try and spot one of the many species of garden birds we have are at the woods. You can also come into the centre and make a fat ball for our feathered friends or a mesh bird feeder to hang up in your garden. There will also be lots of bird themed colouring in to do. Free Entry, but activities start at £1. This event will be scheduled again for later in the year.

Friday Night Bat Walks for 2019;  Learn about the different bat species at the reserve with an expert talk from the Essex Bat Group. Use a bat detector on a guided walk around the reserve to discover the different species and tune into their calls. Friday night bat walks in 2019 will be on the  31st May,  21st June,  19th July  and  23rd August from 8pm to 10pm. There is a small fee of £3 for children and £4 for adults. Booking is essential so please contact or call the reserve on 01279 430005 to book in advance.

Bat flight cage 1 on 1’s; If you have been inspired by the great work of your local bat groups or the plight of the UK’s bat species, you can take this opportunity to get some 1 on 1 experience with some recuperating bats. You will learn what to do if you find an injured bat and how to care for it if you become a volunteer bat ambulance driver or carer. This 1 on 1 experience offers you the chance to see bats being rehabilitated in a flight cage and a chance to talk to some experts from the essex bat group. This is a new and ongoing event and is subject to the availability of our expert bat carer’s. Please email to register your interest and check our availability. £10 for one or £15 for a two. Two at a time is the maximum capacity. Please note you must have a keen interest in bats as you will be required to sit still for an extended period and stay quiet as you will be near live wild animals. 

For more information on upcoming events please contact us directly at or call on 01279 430005.