Parndon Wood

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 2015 for the seventh 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.

Bookings and volunteering 

Parndon Wood is available for hire and use for a range of activities. From educational school trips to birthday parties and adult training courses; If you’re looking to hold an event in a beautiful woodland setting, contact us now 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, as well as extensive woodland spaces for pupils to immerse themselves in the natural world throughout the year.

Educational fun:

  • Pond dipping
  • Bug hunting
  • Guided nature walks
  • Wildlife watching
  • Den building
  • Natural arts and crafts
  • Bird watching

Birthday Parties 

Want a party with a difference? With our tailor made party packages, we may have just the thing!

During your two hour party, why not have a go at

  • Pond dipping
  • 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 wellies! Prices start at £140, for more information or to book call us on 01279 430005 or email

Things to see and do

There is so much to see and do at Parndon Wood Nature Reserve, that even if we don’t have an event on during your visit, you’ll still be entertained all day!

Go exploring

Work your way round our Nature Trail and see that you can find. Will it be a fantastic fungi, a Den, Animals or something else? Hire a Bug Hunting kit or Pond Net to see what else you can find!

Bird Watching

The reserve is a haven for wildlife. You can see birds such as Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Woodpeckers, and if you’re lucky, Tawny Owls and Buzzards. Grab your binoculars (or hire some of ours) and get watching.


If you’re interested in photography, there are so may inspiring subjects in the reserve. From ancient trees to fallow deer, foxes and spring flowers to an explosion of colour in Autumn. Why not send us your photos too? Or enter our photography competition?


Share with us your best photos of the Nature Reserve for a chance to win a £10 voucher. Use the #pwphotocomp to enter. Good luck!

  • photos need to be taken in Parndon Wood Nature Reserve within the last year and must follow that months set theme.
  • By entering the competition, you give Parndon Wood Nature Reserve permission to use the photos for promotional purposes.
  • Entries after the deadline will not be accepted for that months competition.

Come to an event

Check for upcoming events at the bottom of this page!