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Parndon Woods and Common

129ac/52.3ha  LNR, SSSI (part)

Grid ref: TL 444 072 (click for o/s map)

Updated 25/08/2014

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Parndon Wood, an ancient woodland on Harlow's southern ridge, was bought by Harlow Council in 1968 to become a Local Nature Reserve. In 2004 the reserve was extended to include Parndon Common and two more ancient woods to the west.

Parndon Wood consists mainly of hornbeam coppice with oak standards. Coppicing lapsed after World War II but has now been resumed and this has encouraged woodland plants and animals. The wood is visited by deer and fencing has to be used to prevent them from damaging the newly coppiced trees.

Parndon Common is cut annually for hay and before the hay cut provides a good show of yellow rattle, common spotted orchids and cowslips. It has occasional mature oaks.

Hospital and Risden's Woods are mainly coppiced hornbeam and oak, like Parndon Wood, plus some large ash in the wetter southern part. Coppicing has been resumed here also.

Bats are a special feature and six species have been recorded in the reserve. Pipistrelles, the smallest British bats, are the commonest, and it also has daubenton's and brown long-eared bats


Access via Parndon Wood Road, on the southern fringe of Harlow. Turn off the A414 on to the A1169 and follow signs to Parndon Wood Crematorium. Go past the crematorium entrance and use the parking on the right. The entrance to Parndon Wood is through the green gates next on the right. The rest of the reserve can be reached via the public footpath near the crematorium entrance.

All except Parndon Wood accessible at all times. Parndon Wood is open on weekends and Bank Holidays throughout the year, and on Tuesday evenings 7 pm–9 pm April to September inclusive. It has a visitor centre. Education and group visits by arrangement with the warden (01279 430005).

One hide in Parndon Wood is accessible by wheelchairs via a boardwalk.

Dogs are not allowed into Parndon Wood.

A nature trail with numbered stops runs around Parndon Wood that can be followed with a trail guide, available from the centre. There are two hides along the trail overlooking ponds and bird feeders.

Photo © Owen Keen