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Parndon Woods & Common

129ac/52.3ha  LNR, SSSI (part)

Grid ref: TL 444 072

Updated 31/12/2023.

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Parndon Wood, an ancient woodland on Harlow's southern ridge, consists mainly of hornbeam coppice with oak standards. Coppicing lapsed after World War II but has been resumed to encourage 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 adjoin the common. They are mainly coppiced hornbeam and oak, plus some large ash in the wetter southern part. Coppicing has been resumed here also.

Bats are a special feature. Pipistrelles, the smallest British bats, are the commonest, and daubenton's and brown long-eared bats can be seen here also.


Access via Parndon Wood Road, on the southern fringe of Harlow. From the A414 follow signs to Parndon Wood Crematorium and park on the right just past the crematorium entrance. 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. SatNav: CM19 4SF.

All except Parndon Wood accessible at all times. Parndon Wood is closed on Mondays (except Bank Holidays) and Tuesdays, and otherwise opens for varying times from 11am – check the Harlow Council website for details.

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

Dogs are not allowed into Parndon Wood.

© Lynda Poulter