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 2017 for the ninth 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 by schools, which use it to support national curriculum studies and for special events. These are held through 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.

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 £3.99 a bag to £150 a tonne.

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;

Mini Best 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. Friday April 13th 11am – 3pm.

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! Friday 6th of April 11:30am – 3:30pm.

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

Walking for Health; Parndon wood will also be hosting its own health walks on Sundays at 11.30am to 12.30pm. The walks are commencing from 11th February 2018 and will be weekly. 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.

Bush Craft Days; Learn how to make fire, build shelters and survive the wild with our Basic survival training and bush craft days. It is a fun and educational experience for children and adults.

 Lead by our bush craft expert, James Goodman, you can book into a 1 hour slot where you will learn; basic fire lighting techniques, simple shelter building, trap setting and more! The hour and a half slots will be 10 – 11:30am, 12pm – 1.30 pm, 2pm-  3.30pm. Each slot will have a maximum capacity of 20 people so booking is essential. Children £2.50 Adults £3.50. Please contact to book into a time slot. This is an age appropriate activity and is not recommended for under 5’s. This event is in the process of being rescheduled again for later this year.

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. 

Big Frog Hunt; Early Spring sees the emergence of the amphibians! Come along to Parndon wood and see if you can find some of our many frogs, toads or newts that live in the woodlands waterways and leaf litter. There will be pond dipping sessions, information around the trail, pond wildlife guides available, and lots of amphibian themed fun in the conservation centre. 
For the pond dipping during this event, there will be two sessions, 12:30 – 1:30pm and 2 – 3 pm. There is a maximum capacity of 15 spaces on each session due to equipment availability so please book of you would like to pond dip. Pond dipping ticket are £3. Please contact if you wish to book onto a pond dipping session.If you just want to turn up on the day and have some amphibian themed fun without booking onto a pond dipping session, tickets will be £1.50 and you can pay at the cafeteria when you arrive. 
Please bring appropriate footwear if you are booking onto the pond dipping! This event is on the 8th and the 22nd of April 11am – 3pm.

Dino Days; Discover the world of these ancient lizards! Find signs of dinosaurs along the trail, test your dino knowledge, draw and build your own dinosaurs in the prehistoric class room or dig up some fossils in our archeology section! There will be prizes and dino themed fun all day. This event will be scheduled again for later this year.
Tickets are £2. No need to book.

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.

Mothers Day Decorating; Bring your mums along to decorate your very own ceramic bird feeder. There will be a number of lovely bird feeder designs from you to pick from and then add your personal touch to. You can then take anything you have painted home with you to hang up in the garden. Tickets are £8 each and include a hot or cold drink, biscuits and 1 ceramic bird feeder for you to paint. Paints are provided also. Booking is essential so please contact if you would like come along. This event will be on the 11th of march from 11am -3pm.

Parndon Wood Easter Egg Hunt; Bring the kids along and have a go at our fun filled easter egg hunt around the nature trail. If you find all the hidden eggs you win a prize and even if you don’t, there will be a little treat waiting for you all in the conservation centre. There will also be lots of easter animal fun in the conservation centre.
Tickets are £4 (tickets are for children only), booking is required, this will include the easter egg hunt and the prizes.
Please book through so that we can arrange the correct amount of prizes for you all! This event will be on the 31st of March and the 1st of April, 12:00pm – 3:00pm.

Bat Safaris; Come along and learn about our reserves bat species. You will receive an expert talk from the essex bat group and then be led on a safari around the reserve to discover what species we have here. You also will be given a bat detector which lets you tune in to the calls made by the bats. Booking is essential so please contact to book in advance. £3 for children and £4 for adults. The dates for this will be Thursdays;  31st of May (8pm -10pm), 21st of June (8.15pm – 10.15pm), 19th of July (8pm – 10pm) and the 23rd of august (8 – 10pm)

Bat weekend; a weekend to learn all about the flying mammals of the UK. The essex bat group will once again be here to show you live and taxidermy bats, survey techniques, bat aide posters, bat related arts and crafts and much more! Free entry but as this is a charity event a suggested donation of £2 would be greatly received. May, Saturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th 11am – 3pm.

Small Mammal Weekend; This weekend is dedicated to the small mammal species we have here in the UK. From the humble house mouse to the elusive weasel there ill be information and actives relating to them all. We will also be joined by the essex bat group and the Harlow Badger group who will have loads information and activities for you all. Entry to this event is free but some activities may incur a cost. This event will be happening on the 22nd and 23rd of September.

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 on or call on 01279 430005.