We celebrate Valentine’s Day this year by transporting you to a world within a world, a place loved by visitors of all ages who find solace in its sensational sights and striking surroundings.
Restored to a state of nature equal to its heyday in the eighteenth century when it was designed by Humphry Repton, Panshanger Park is grand and picturesque.
The park, owned by Tarmac and the site of a former quarry, is treasured as much by nature lovers who come to marvel at its beauty as the people employed there.
Tony Jackson, senior park ranger, Maydencroft Ltd, has been on the payroll since the early 1980s. “The sheer diversity of the landscape is a joy to behold. I feel privileged to work here.”
Jez Perkins, estates manager, Maydencroft Ltd, is similarly effusive. “The thing I love about the park is how it’s so important to so many people for very different reasons, whether it’s the history, landscape, biodiversity, angling, horse riding or simply to come and walk your dog.”
During spring and summer the park bursts into life, with wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies and birds making their presence felt, and mallards, coots, little grebes and other wildfowl splashing around in the lakes and river.
Malcolm Payne, from Panshanger Anglers, said: “I love the anticipation of casting a long line on Osprey Lake to attract a rainbow trout or stalking the wild brown trout in the River Mimram.”
Sunrise and sunset are favourite times of day for Kimberley Simms, who works at Planted Coffee Company at Panshanger. “I love the stunning views, squirrels playing, different flowers blooming each season, listening to birdsong and finding animal tracks.”
Panshanger Park is home to more than 500 veteran trees, which support a huge number of insects, beetles, fungi, mosses and lichens. Birds and bats also nest and roost in the cavities they find in these trees.
Adam Roberts, park ranger, Maydencroft Ltd, said: “I love seeing regular visitors and hearing their thoughts on the recent work we’ve done around the park. I also love the opportunities to learn new skills here.”
The grounds are a wonderful place to wander, with designated walks and trails taking in notable sights including the Panshanger Great Oak, the three lakes and Lady Hughes Wood.
George Dixon, assistant park ranger, Maydencroft Ltd, enjoys seeing the park slowly changing through the seasons. “As well as spending my days outside in nature, I also love to meet people who really appreciate being here.”
This sentiment is echoed by volunteer Tom Woolgar. “The different habitats create an ever-evolving mix of sights, sounds, smells and experiences. No two walks are the same.”
Volunteer Pam Caddow is equally effusive. “As the seasons roll, the diverse flora and fauna reveal something fresh and new to me each time I visit. And to see so many visitors and dogs enjoying the park is the icing on the cake.”
Louise Smith, from Panshanger Parkrun, loves the park all year round. “Whether I am running or volunteering it is a highlight of my week to meet friends, drink coffee and observe this beautiful piece of Hertfordshire across the seasons.”
Park volunteer David Neal takes solace from monitoring the wildlife. “I love walking around Panshanger and checking the refugia for signs of life.”
Michael Charlton, mineral estates manager, Tarmac, is proud to be part of such a committed team. He said: “I love the passion everyone has for the park, which shows what a special place it.
“For a specific location, you can’t beat Lady Hughes wood in spring. It is a sea of bluebells and looks absolutely stunning.”
Panshanger Park is owned and managed by Tarmac, which is working in partnership with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and Hertfordshire County Council to open up the historic landscape to the public. The partnership is working in consultation with a range of stakeholders to create a financially sustainable, exemplar country park which will highlight and protect its varied wildlife, rich history and stunning landscape.
Photo credit: Kingfisher & Water Vole © Russell Savory