Local bestselling author, Freya North, supports getting out and active at Panshanger Park

February 19, 2024

Earlier this month, Panshanger Park launched the ‘PanshanGo’ campaign, encouraging people to go outdoors, get active and experience nature to improve their overall wellbeing. As part of this, visitors to the park are being challenged to complete one to two activities in the park each week, and then share their experiences. 

Freya North, local Hertfordshire resident and bestselling author, discusses getting out and active in nature, and what she enjoys doing at Panshanger Park. 

Across her 27-year career as a professional author, Freya has founded and run the Hertford Children’s Book Festival, is a patron of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, and Pointers In Need, has judged at the Costa Book Awards and is an ambassador for Bowel Cancer UK. She now lives on a small farm in East Hertfordshire, with her family, horses, dogs and sheep.  

Freya’s 15 bestselling novels include her debut Sally (1996), Pillow Talk (2008 – winner of the RNA award), The Turning Point (2016) and Little Wing (2022). Her latest novel, The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne is out now. When she’s not writing or working on the farm, Freya is a regular visitor to Panshanger Park. 

Commenting on what she, and her dogs, like about the park, Freya said:  

Whatever the season there is always something new to notice, whatever the weather the park has its own character. I love how it embraces the seasons – snowdrops into daffs into bluebells. Now that one of my dogs has gone completely blind, she feels really confident along the paths, but it also has the open space for my other dog – a Greek rescue – to bound around making friends!

“One of my favourite sights is seasonal and therefore something to look forward to each year – and that’s the graceful and serene longhorn cattle with their calves. I also adore the Panshanger Oak – it really sparks my imagination and I often stand still and just gaze at it, trying to grasp all the things that have happened throughout the centuries whilst this mighty tree continues to grow.

“Whatever the weather, I like to go on Saturdays and Sundays – it really demarcates the weekend from the week as I can enjoy a more leisurely walk – and my dogs now expect it! I like to walk and talk and sip great coffee from Planted Coffee Co – plus of course chat to other dog owners about their pooches and bump into friends.”

Reflecting on the benefits of getting outside, active and experiencing nature, on her own mental health and wellbeing, she said:

“I find that the fresh air with a brisk walk is a proven way to release endorphins – those feel-good hormones. It’s important to be aware that a change of scene can be really positive – even invigorating. I live on a farm and, especially in winter, the yard chores can be a bit of a drag – but I find that even if I’m clad head to toe in waterproofs, coming to Panshanger for an hour or so always lifts my spirits and energy.

“If needed, I’ll either give myself a break by meeting friends and talking nineteen-to-the-dozen with them, or if I’m on my own I will listen to an intriguing podcast as that’s a great way to spark curiosity and ignite the imagination. Often, though, as I walk my head both clears and yet also fills with ideas.

“Also, I enjoy riding my road-bike outdoors, especially on the hills in East Hertfordshire, as it always gives me that perfect combination of invigoration and achievement. If I’m stuck with my writing, going out on my bike provides both the respite and the boost that I need. Often, just the rhythm of turning the pedals frees me up so that ideas for plots and characters can flow.”

Discussing the ‘PanshanGo’ campaign, Freya said: “The PanshanGo campaign is an absolutely wonderful initiative to get people out and about – whether with families or friends or just for some empowering me-time. It’s also a great time of year to discover all those positive glimpses of spring!

Find out more about Freya’s latest novel, The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne, here: https://freyanorth.com/the-unfinished-business-of-eadie-browne/

Don’t forget to share your photos and videos of you doing the ‘PanshanGo’ challenge activities, by tagging us on social media and using #PanshanGo or email them to [email protected].

All photos provided by Freya North.