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 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.

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 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;

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. These walks should be commencing late January 2018. 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 experienced bush craft leader. Bush craft days will be coming soon to Parndon Wood Nature Reserve, to register your interest please contact us.

For more information on upcoming events please contact us directly on or call on 01279 430005. Emails generally get responded to quicker.

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 on Saturday the 3rd of February. 

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. Friday 16th of February and Saturday the 24th February.
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. Saturday the 17th and Sunday the 18th of February, 11am – 3pm.

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.

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.