The first in this year’s series of walks & talks took place on Thursday 25 April. This was from Lister House to the Parndon Wood Nature Reserve…

On a lovely Spring evening about 20 people gathered at the new Lister House Medical Centre. The only treatment available at this time of day being exercise, in the form of a walk. Prior to setting off Jenny Lushington regaled us, chapter and verse, the story of the new sculpture the forecourt of the medical centre – Magic Jumping Bean, by Tim Shutter.

Spurred on by this we walked via the adjacent cycle paths to Brockles Mead. A brief discussion about the architectural merits of this typical Harlow housing area ensued; it’s the first area to have a garage for each dwelling. Brockles Mead was designed by Leonard Manasseh & Partners, who went on to design some significant buildings such as the National Motor Museum. Leonard Manasseh died in 2017 at the age of 101!

Walking on via Morningtons and Brockles House – another of Harlow’s hidden treasures – we arrived at our destination – Parndon Wood Nature Reserve (PWNR) – just after 6.30pm, meeting more of our party, who had elected to drive straight there. We were greeted by a member of the staff at PWNR and advised that refreshments were available and suggesting that those of us with enough energy undertake the signed, circular walk in the wood before taking tea. The majority agreed to this and set off on the tour.

We were not disappointed; our timing was perfect. Bright evening sunlight lit up the fresh, spring green of the wood. It was dry underfoot, despite earlier rain. The temperature was just right for a walk – “Goldilocks weather” – not too hot, nor too cold. The birds were singing their evening chorus – all was well with the world. Half an hour later we were indulging in the offerings from the cafe in the wood – most enjoyable.

By this time the temperature was dropping as the sun moved towards the horizon. The group set off to walk back via Press Lane – the cycle track from Paringdon Road – Third Avenue. Turning right by Moorfield along the “green tunnel” footpath that runs between St James’ School and Stewards Academy to Peterswood. The tunnel and woodland are yet another Harlow surprise. We walked passed Longbanks, then stopped our second sculpture on the walk – Echo by Antanas Brazdys. This sculpture was relocated to its current position when the original Staple Tye shopping centre was demolished. Its new location has not diminished its charm.

Crossing Southern Way we walked via another cycle track, lined with ornamental cherry trees, but a few days too late for the wonderful display of white blossom. We were soon back at Lister House and the Magic Jumping Bean.

I think that everyone enjoyed the outing – will you be doing another one soon was the question – Some saw parts of the town that they had not seen, or not known about, before. PWNR was an absolute picture with its Spring foliage, and is surely one Harlow’s gems, it richly deserves its Green Flag status. 

John Curry

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