Parndon Wood Nature Reserve (SSSI)

Thank you to everyone who took part in the photo competition this weekend, it was great to see so many creative photographers visit us!

The team from Parndon Wood and ecco charity have picked our favourites, it was a tough decision!

In no particular order…

Picture 1 – Dan Sullivan

Picture 2 – Ness Rouse

Picture 3 – Roy Knight

Picture 4 – ‘photosfromjackson’

Picture 5 – Amelia Sullivan

Please like and share and let us know in the comments which one is your favourite!

All 5 photographers can claim a free drink or cake next time you visit us 💚

Well done all!


Highlights of Parndon Wood

Beautiful scenery, two nature trails, cafe serving, wildlife spotting hides, den building, bug hunting,  arts & crafts area, bug hotel, picnic benches, binocular hire available, story telling area.

Birthday parties, venue hire, amphi theatre.

Plus much more

Thank you to Parndon Wood’s volunteers for making us such a beautiful bug hotel!

Please note – dogs are allowed in the reserve but only up to the cafe area. Dogs are not allowed on the trails. Thank you for your understanding.

  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: 11am – 4pm
  • Thursday: 2pm-7pm
  • Friday: 11am – 4pm
  • Saturday: 10am-4pm
  • Sunday 11am – 4pm 

For what’s on see the event calendar below or follow us on social media

Location:    Parndon Wood Road, Harlow CM19 4SF.

Contact:   01279 450200,

Upcoming Events 2023

Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th December 
Photo Competition weekend
Autumn/Winter weekend activities 
An ECCO Christmas at Parndon Wood
Woodland Stockpot Sessions

In the Summer of 2021, ECCO partnered with Roots To Wellbeing & Active Essex to deliver weekly Woodland Stockpot Sessions. With funding granted by Active Essex, we were able to offer activities, mindfulness classes and a hot meal every week to over 20 different families. By doing this we have been able to teach families about nutrition, food groups and the importance this has on your day to day life. ECCO are extremely proud to be able to offer these sessions to families in need.

Parndon Wood Café

Our café is wonderfully different; the courtyard vista is a pristine woodland where you can sit in peace with a drink & slice of cake or a ciabatta.  Hide from the weather inside and watch birds playing around the pond. Arts and crafts are available in the conservation centre all year round so the kids can get creative while you enjoy the view.

Introducing the weekend cafe menu here at the reserve!
– Hot waffles with Cream & Golden Syrup
– Ham & cheese ciabatta
Visit us on Saturdays from 10am-4pm & Sundays 11am-4pm.
Our cafe is located in the visitors centre shortly after the entrance!

Sunset Sessions

Back in 2018, ECCO created an idea called Sunset Sessions which are unique live music events based at Parndon Wood Nature Reserve. All funds raised go back in to the Nature Reserve.

Over 3 Summers we have had 8 sold out events and welcomed more than 800 of you to these events, we cant thank you all enough for the support you have shown.

Across these events, we have had 12 local singer songwriters perform amazing acoustic sets.

See below a video of Harmonie London performing at Sunset Sessions in the Summer of 2021!

Things to see and do 

Take a walk by yourself or with the family & friends 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 

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.

Binoculars and bug hunting kits available

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;

  • Bug hunting
  • Den building
  • 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. for more information or to book, email

More information here: 

Please note that all rubbish created 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.

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;

  • Bug hunting
  • Nature walks
  • Wildlife watching
  • Den building
  • Natural arts and crafts
  • Bark rubbing
  • Nature quizzes

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

About Parndon Wood Nature Reserve

Parndon Wood Nature Reserve, run by ECCO, is officially one of the finest parks in the country. Receiving a sought after Green Flag award, retained in 2023 for the 13th 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 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, animal education shows. We also offer discussion meetings about local wildlife issues and volunteer conservation work parties. 

 Location: Parndon Wood Road, Harlow CM19 4SF

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.



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. 

For more information on upcoming events please contact us directly at or call 07802237440


– We’ve just had our 4yr old’s birthday party at Parndon Wood nature reserve and it was absolutely wonderful. All the children really enjoyed themselves on the treasure hunt, big hunt and den building, I can’t thank you enough!
Such a brilliant option for a birthday party, the staff are fantastic; professional, knowledgable, super friendly and brilliant with the kids. Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a fun and active birthday party!
– For many many years we have loved Parndon Wood as a family and my children have enjoyed exploring and learning about nature. Years on they have never become bored. Tonight we attended your Halloween event and it was great. The effort that had been put in to the different areas and as always the friendly staff. So nice to have an affordable Halloween event to attend. Thank you 😊
– My son had his birthday party here yesterday and it was the most fun day, the team couldn’t do enough to make us all welcome, they was so friendly and accommodating, everyone at the party said what a wonderful idea it was to have a party here! I would without a doubt 1000% recommend this place, hidden treasure in Harlow for sure.