Welcome to Day 1 of the #30DaysWild Challenge with Essex Wildlife Trust! Over the next 30 days, we will be setting daily task bringing a little bit of #wild into your lives and hopefully inspiring you to #StayWild.

This blog will act as a companion to your wild journey, encouraging some wild learning and giving you the tools to set your own tasks and have your own wild adventures.

We would love to hear your wild stories or see your wild photographs, even if they are not task related, we will select some of these to feature in the wild stories section of this blog. You can send these to us via Facebook or email.

Today’s task is:

Explore the wild near you!

To get you started here is a list of our favourite local wild spots:

1.Herts and Essex Community Farm – Come visit us on our regular volunteer days (Saturday and Sunday 10-4) and I am sure you will see why!

2. The River Stort – Named in the 16th century after the small town of Bishops Stortford this 24 mile (38km) river runs right through our hometown (Harlow, Essex) before emptying into the Lea at Feildes Weir, Hoddesdon. It holds great natural beauty and is the home to an expanse of wildlife and domestic animals in the many fields running alongside it. It also acts as a scenic route to some beautiful wild spots such as; Pardon Moat Nature Reserve and Maymead Marsh Nature Reserve, which can be found in some of our later tasks.

3. Parndon Wood – This peaceful forest is one of three woods (Hospital Wood and Risden’s wood being the other two) that make up ‘Harlow Woods’ a 47.1-hectare biological site of scientific interest in Harlow, Essex. They are home to an abundance of wildlife (this is the first place I ever saw a wild deer) numerous tree species (Day 23’s task) and have a fantastic learning centre, including a bird watching hut (Day 14’s task). If you wanted to learn more about their projects and open days please visit their website at: https://ecco.org.uk/home/parndon-wood/ 

4. Harlow Town Park – Across 164 acres the town park houses; Spurriers House, Pets’ Corner, Bandstand, Adventure Playground, Water Garden, Newfoundland Garden, Peace Wood, Lookout Hill, paddling pool, outdoor gym, Harlow skatepark and showground. There is no shortage of #Wild here!

5. Harlow Common – A great expanse of fields and forest next to the m11 corridor, this is a great wild place for woodland animals, walking adventures and wilderness exploring.

6. Pishiobury Park – A beautiful old estate dating back to medieval Sawbridgeworth, once the home of the 1st Earl of Essex. The land is free to enter and explore, just outside of Harlow it is fairly easy to get to by car and foot.

7. Epping Forest – This ancient woodland first appears named as such in the early 17th Century but holds treasures much older than this with embankments of two iron age earthworks. More recent history include being named the royal forest and folk lawed as a hunting ground for King Henry VIII. The forest also boasts a host of natural beauty with areas of woodland, grassland, heath, rivers, bogs and ponds.

8. The many woods in and around Harlow – This will differ person to person, but I grew up playing chase through the woods surrounding Hester’s House, picked my first wild flowers from the woods of the cycle track leading to Old Harlow cycling up to my nana’s house and went for many a thought in the woods creating a cut through from Old Passmores to the left of ASDA. I can not encourage exploring the woods enough.

9. The brook in Cannons Brook – There is an old story about the witches tunnel that sits in Cannons Brook that warned us as young children not to explore the dark stone pipes for fear they are the only place on Earth with no oxygen, it was a good lesson for safety but a funny story to look back at. This area also has children’s play parks and woods to explore and connects to the small brook that feeds our land.

10. Netteswell Pond/ Oakwood Pond – There are many more marshes and ponds around Harlow but these two deserve a special mention, both are within walkable distance to the farm and as such are places we’ve spent a lot of our youth. Oakwood is surrounded by trees at the side of a cycle track behind Thomas Moore Church, it very much has the feel of a secret garden that’s full of secret life and mystery. Netteswell is much more open, can be found just past St.Mark’s School and a beautiful spot for a picnic.

It was very hard to narrow this list to just 10, even with the main focus on Harlow so if you feel we missed any of your favourites (from all over the world) then please let us know.

#STAYWILD

Today’s blog was written by S.Hellard

Written by Scarlet